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James Robinson, News Service (650) 723-5675;

Debra Zumwalt named general counsel

Debra L. Zumwalt, Stanford's acting general counsel, has been named to the post on a permanent basis by President John Hennessy.

Zumwalt is a partner at Pillsbury Winthrop LLP, where she had been the managing partner of the Silicon Valley office. She is the president of the Santa Clara County Bar Association. From 1987 to 1993, she was senior university counsel at Stanford, and since February of last year has been the university's acting general counsel.

Hennessy appointed a blue ribbon panel in November to evaluate Zumwalt's work as acting general counsel and her qualifications to serve as Stanford's general counsel on a permanent basis. The panel's members were Kathleen Sullivan, dean of the Law School; John Levin, partner at the law firm of Folger Levin & Kahn; Michael McCaffery, CEO of Stanford Management Co.; Pamela Rymer, Judge of the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals; Michael Roster, former Stanford general counsel; and Mark Zoback, professor of earth sciences. The panel delivered its recommendation to Hennessy in December.

"After reviewing Debra's work, the panel unanimously concluded that Stanford would indeed be fortunate to have someone of her caliber as general counsel," Hennessy said. "In a number of important university matters, dating back to the indirect costs dispute, Debra has shown an incisive legal mind, superb judgment and a tireless devotion to the university."

Sullivan said the combination of Zumwalt's legal expertise and experience at Stanford was unique."Zumwalt offers a rare combination of strengths seasoned litigator, knowledgeable counselor, and energetic and stalwart defender of Stanford's interests across a wide range of matters over the last decade," Sullivan said. "Had we looked high and low, the committee believed, we could not have found a person better suited to serve as Stanford's chief lawyer than the highly respected, incredibly hard-working person who was already serving in that role on an interim basis."

Zumwalt earned a bachelor's degree in political science from Arizona State University. She earned her law degree from Stanford Law School, and much of her work at Pillsbury has been Stanford-related.

"I am extremely pleased and honored to be named as the general counsel for Stanford and look forward to serving the university in this capacity," Zumwalt said. "Stanford is an exciting place to be working and has wonderful people dedicated to the mission of the university."

Before coming to Stanford as senior university counsel in 1987, Zumwalt was senior litigation counsel for Chevron Corp. and, before that, an associate at Pillsbury. She is one of the founding trustees and officers of the Silicon Valley Campaign for Legal Services, a new organization that raises money for legal services for the disadvantaged in Silicon Valley. She is also a director of the Law Foundation of Silicon Valley.

In addition to the indirect costs matters, Zumwalt has represented Stanford University and the Stanford hospitals in many different matters, beginning while she was senior counsel at Stanford and continuing as a partner at Pillsbury.

She was the lead lawyer defending the university in the whistleblower suit that had originally been filed in 1991 seeking hundreds of millions of dollars in damages against Stanford. Zumwalt and her legal team obtained a dismissal of the litigation in the trial court and she successfully argued the appeal.

Since 1990, Zumwalt also has advised the university on compliance with laws concerning government research contracts, which total $700 million a year. In 1998 she advised the university and helped negotiate the new five-year, $800 million contract for the Stanford Linear Accelerator Center. Since 1999 she has been responsible for overseeing Stanford's legal advice on business matters in a number of areas, including computer licenses, business agreements and name use protection.


By James Robinson

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