Eighteen months ago Jeremy Rigg came on board as Associate Director of UWA’s new Risk and Legal team. With degrees in Law and Science and seven years’ previous experience working at Murdoch University, Jeremy (a UWA graduate) has an appreciation of the wide-ranging issues universities face.
“Our role is to operate as a business partner and work with professional and academic staff on these matters while taking a strategic university-wide approach,” he says.
The team is a merger of the former Legal Services and Risk Management offices, and aims to provide a more integrated and strategic approach to these functions. Under Jeremy’s leadership, the team wants to give staff the tools to be more involved in designing the solutions to issues faced.
“We want to move away from the perception that our role simply comes down to a ticked box at the end of a process.
“We want to empower staff to manage operational matters effectively as part of day-to-day business,” he says.
To help this, Risk and Legal have launched a new website that succinctly details the services they offer and will grow to become a repository for self-help tools and checklists.
“We are currently developing tools to help staff navigate their operations and develop the skills to make decisions without needing to refer every matter to Legal.
“Obviously there will always be issues that require the team’s expert input and to ensure the University is complying with relevant laws, however there is scope for business units and faculties to be more self-sufficient with the assistance of tools and templates,” he says.
During Research Week, Risk and Legal ran an innovative walk-through style expo event, where researchers and professional staff could talk with UWA’s legal counsel about frequently asked questions under broad, research-related legal themes.
“The event was centred on three presentations; intellectual property ownership, setting up clinical trials and on what to consider when collaborating with external organisations.
“Raising awareness of the legal aspects of these issues helps us collaborate better with the research community and provides a platform for really positive engagement.
“We’d be happy to come and speak to teams across the University about what services we provide or on certain topics that may be particularly relevant to your area – just drop us a line on email,” Jeremy says.
It has been this fresh take on service delivery and outreach activities that has recently earned Jeremy and his team recognition, being nominated for 2017 Corporate Lawyer of the Year and Best Small In‑house Legal Team of the Year through the Association of Corporate Counsel Australia awards. Winners will be announced in November.