Sharon Reich Paulsen serves as Vice President for Legal Affairs and General Counsel, and Senior Advisor to the President.
Ms. Paulsen earned her B.A., summa cum laude, from Yale University, where she received the William M. Massee Award for her senior economics thesis and was a member of Phi Beta Kappa. She received her J.D. from Stanford Law School, where she was Note Editor of the Stanford Law Review and received the Board of Editors Award for her editorial contributions. After clerking for the Honorable Harlington Wood Jr. of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit, she joined the U.S. Department of Justice through the Civil Division Honors Program and served as a trial attorney, primarily engaged in constitutional litigation. She later joined the Business Litigation Department of Faegre & Benson (now Faegre Baker Daniels) in Minneapolis, where she handled a wide range of business and employment disputes until she entered academia as Associate Dean at the University of Minnesota Law School.
As Associate Dean, Ms. Paulsen revamped the University of Minnesota Law School’s legal writing program and trial practice program, created a new moot court program, a new civil litigation concentration, a Master of Science in Patent Law program, and a summer mock trial institute. For the majority of her time at the Law School, she also served as the senior associate dean for administration, overseeing all aspects of the administrative operation, also including admissions and career services, and she advised the dean on innovation, strategic planning, and experiential learning. Teaching responsibilities included Conflict of Laws, Trial Practice, Judicial Externship, and a variety of litigation-related courses.
From 2004-11, Ms. Paulsen took a leave from the Law School to serve as Associate Vice President for Academic Affairs and Chief of Staff to the Provost of the University of Minnesota. As chief advisor to the Provost, she was the liaison with senior campus academic and administrative leaders, ensured effective implementation of academic initiatives, handled grievances and legal issues, prepared and implemented the annual work plan for the Provost’s Office, and supervised all professional and support staff as well as daily management and operations in the Provost’s Office. She played a leading role in overseeing and then implementing the academic side of the University’s strategic positioning effort.
Ms. Paulsen was appointed by the Minnesota Supreme Court to two three-year terms on the Lawyers Professional Responsibility Board, where she also served as a hearing panel chair and on the Board’s Opinion Committee. In 2003 she received the Minnesota State Bar Association’s President’s Award as a member of the Task Force on the ABA Model Rules of Professional Conduct. She has participated on a variety of other task forces and committees of the Minnesota State Bar Association, including service as co-chair of the Women in the Legal Profession Committee. She has served on the Association of American Law Schools’ Committee on Bar Admissions and Lawyer Performance, she was a founding member of the Association of Legal Writing Directors, and she has served on the Board of the Loan Repayment Assistance Program-Minnesota. Ms. Paulsen also was a member of the Board of Directors of the MacPhail School of Music from 2004-10, and she currently serves on the executive steering committee of the Alliance for Experiential Learning in Law.
Ms. Paulsen has lectured inside and outside academia on evidence, ethics, litigation, comparative law, the American legal system, and legal education issues. In 2014, 2015, 2016, and 2017, she was invited to design and lead workshops in Uzbekistan on trial techniques and the value of an adversarial legal system, rules of criminal procedure and the rights of the accused, and on legal ethics. During spring semester 2012, Ms. Paulsen served as a visiting professor at the Uppsala University Faculty of Law in Uppsala, Sweden; while there, she also was invited to give the keynote speech at the annual meeting of the Comparative Law Research Society of Sweden. She was a visiting scholar at Vermont Law School during the fall 2012 semester, and she taught a six-week course in China during the summer of 2007.
Ms. Paulsen’s research interests focus on litigation strategy and procedure, including trial practice, case development and discovery, depositions, and appellate advocacy.