David Robinson named next chief campus counsel of UC Berkeley

UC Berkeley Public Affairs/Courtesy

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David Robinson will assume the role of chief campus counsel beginning June 1, Chancellor Carol Christ announced Wednesday in a press release.

Previously an associate campus counsel in UC Berkeley’s Office of Legal Affairs, or OLA, Robinson has served as the interim chief campus counsel since October 2017. Christopher Patti, the previous chief campus counsel, was killed in a bicycle accident in August 2017. Starting in June, Robinson’s appointment will become permanent, according to the press release.

“He is a phenomenal lawyer, a devoted public servant, a person of impeccable character and integrity, and a dear friend,” said Therese Leone, an associate campus counsel who has known Robinson for 15 years, in an email. “It is an honor to continue serving in the Office of Legal Affairs with him.”

As chief campus counsel, Robinson said he will provide legal advice to campus administrators and supervise a team of lawyers working for the campus. He added that he will build and maintain relationships with campus bodies, such as the Berkeley Division of the Academic Senate, to ensure that people on campus know where to go if they need legal services.

Although the OLA certainly deals with high-profile issues, including matters regarding free speech and Title IX, a majority of its day-to-day work flies under the public’s radar, according to Robinson.

“There’s a tremendous variety of issues that come up in terms of complying with state and federal regulations, our own policies and trying to figure out how to address specific contracts that the campus is thinking of entering,” Robinson said. “That can be something as simple as buying a piece of specific research equipment to forming a sponsor relationship with Pepsi.”

When Robinson attended law school, he knew he wanted to work for public agencies, he said. After working at the law firm of Goldfarb & Lipman in San Francisco, Robinson joined the UC Office of General Counsel in Oakland in 2001, which works closely with the OLA. 10 years later, Robinson joined the OLA as an associate campus counsel.

Robinson started his undergraduate education at UCLA and finished at UC Santa Cruz, where he received a bachelor’s degree in political science in 1989. He went on to receive his law degree from UC Hastings College of the Law in 1992.

He said he is a “complete product of California public education,” and that the UC system allows people from disadvantaged backgrounds to “transcend their economic circumstances.”

“When a student is admitted to a UC campus, it doesn’t just change that student’s life — it changes their family’s lives,” Robinson said. “It changes people’s sense of what is actually possible. It’s very meaningful for me to be a part of an institution that makes that kind of change possible.”

Anjali Shrivastava covers academics and administration. Contact her at [email protected] and follow her on Twitter at @anjalii_shrivas.