The Harrisburg campus community was treated to a personal talk from one of its successful alumni recently when he returned for a visit.
James Schultz, a 1998 law graduate, now works as general counsel to Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Corbett. Corbett appointed him to the position – the highest-ranking job for civil litigation in state government – in July 2012. The men have an adjoining door between their offices and Schultz’s chief responsibility is to serve as the governor’s lawyer and help him lawfully carry out his agenda. In addition, 34 commonwealth agencies have chief counsels who report to Schultz.
“You have a unique opportunity here in Harrisburg, and that is one other schools don’t have,” Schultz told the students who gathered in L204 on Thursday, April 18. “You are right across the river from the capitol building. I urge all of you, while you are here, to take advantage of it.”
Pennsylvania employs 500 lawyers commonwealth wide, and each summer the Office of Governor’s Counsel brings 60 law students aboard for a legal extern work experience, Schultz said. Schultz also encouraged students to consider working for a department within the commonwealth, to learn how government operates and to make a career of public service. Even for those who only do it for a short time, that experience will be valuable for attorneys in private practice, he said.
“We’ve got a lot of graduates who are leaders in state government,” he said.
He gave a basic overview of the nature and function of the Office of Governor’s Counsel, noting he has assisted the governor extensively on issues involving jobs, taxes, pension reform, liquor store privatization, health care, Marcellus Shale and NCAA sanctions against Penn State University. Under Corbett, the office has been turned into more of a law firm, in an effort to bring a greater amount of litigation work in house instead of shifting it to costly outside counsel.
Schultz worked for Cozen O’Connor before joining the Office of General Counsel. Throughout his legal career he has concentrated his practice in the areas of insurance subrogation, complex commercial litigation, construction defects, product liability and election law. He also spent three years working in the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania. He earned his undergraduate degree from Temple University.