Former university attorney bows out after 33 years

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Jordin O’Connor / Arizona Daily Wildcat Lynne Wood, senior deputy general counsel

Yara Askar

After dedicating 33 years to the UA as a university attorney, and later as senior deputy general counsel, Lynne Wood will officially retire on Friday.

Wood announced her retirement in October 2011, shortly after she was named vice chairwoman for the Angel Charity for Children.

“That just made sense in terms of where I [was],” Wood said.

The announcement came with a year’s notice because Wood has “a lot of institutional memory, a lot of clients” and she hoped to provide “an opportunity for the office to adjust to the transitioning that was necessary,” she said.

Wood began serving as deputy general counsel in 2005.

A week after her announcement, then-President Eugene Sander asked Wood to serve as temporary interim general counsel until Laura Johnson was hired as vice president for legal affairs and general counsel.

“When I was new here she helped guide me and provide any assistance needed,” Johnson said, “and she was really instrumental at helping me feel at home here.”

Wood gave the idea of retirement a lot of thought, she said.

“It was one of those life changing decisions but it was the right thing for me to do,” Wood said. “It would be a little weird getting up and not having to put my lawyer clothes on, but I am pretty sure I will adjust.”

The decision to retire felt right, Wood said, because it was an opportunity to bring in younger people.

“There are so many younger lawyers that need to be hired,” Wood said, “because when you have been in a place for a while you also have to think about not only how you as an employee are doing but how the office is doing.”

The office of the general counsel serves as a lawyer for the UA and for the Arizona Board of Regents. The counsel represents the president, vice president and dean of students. The counsel also advises a student hearing body.

As the office strives to understand what its client’s needs are and how to help them find a legal way to do what they want, Wood has faced challenging cases where it was difficult for her to provide clients with advice they did not want to hear, she said.

Wood said working at the university has been a great opportunity because “people don’t always get to be in the circumstances to have the job that best suits them, and it has suited me.”

“I love working for the university,” she added. “I love working at a place where the mission is to increase knowledge, help people gain skills and education and think critically about things.”

Wood received both her bachelor of arts in history and law degree at the UA. After law school, Wood joined the Navy where she entered the Judge Advocate General Corps. She was the first woman to be accepted into the program.

The JAG program was typically for male students who want to attend law school but still had military requirement to fulfill.

Wood was stationed at Pearl Harbor and later San Diego, then interviewed for her starting position at the office of general counsel.

After 25 years of working with Wood, Marsha Fishman, executive associate to the vice president, said it was a privilege to be in the same office as she was in.

“Lynne has a great sense of humor,” she added. “It’s her sense of humor that makes it fun to work with her. It gets really hard for me because she hired me and it’s an end of an era for me.”