Steiner Joins Local Firm, Ethics Program

Vice President and General Counsel Daniel Steiner '54 will split his time between the Boston law firm of Ropes & Gray and the University Program in Ethics and the professions after he steps down June 30.

Steiner served as the University's top lawyer for more than 20 years. He dealt with student protests, oversaw the University police department, helped set University policy on a number of controversial issues and was one of former President Derek C. Bok's closest advisers.

Steiner said last March he was stepping down to allow President Neil L. Rudenstine to choose his own lawyer, and to allow the institution to get a change of perspective.

Ropes & Gray is Harvard University's most frequently used outside counsel. Recent Harvard fillings with the Internal Revenue Service show that the firm bills the University more than $1.5 million a year.

Steiner said yesterday he doubts he will do much work for Harvard at Ropes & Gray. He said most of the firm's Harvard practice is now devoted to Harvard Management Corporation, and that most of the University's everyday legal work is handled by in-house attorneys.


Steiner said there was no correla- tion between his direction of Harvard's legalbusiness toward Ropes & Gray and the firm'sdecision to hire him.

"If one were looking at [my] decisions thatwould affect Ropes & Gray's economicself-interest, they have not been favorable,"Steiner said. He said his hiring as theUniversity's first general counsel took businessaway from Ropes & Gray, and his expansion of thegeneral counsel's office to its current staff of11 attorneys had a similar effect.

Steiner also said he began contracting someoutside legal work to area law firms other thanRopes & Gray.

"Before I came, they did virtually all ofHarvard's legal work," Steiner said.

Legal ethics experts interviewed yesterday saidthere is nothing improper about Steiner's decisionto work for Ropes & Gray.

"I don't think that, per se, there is a problemwith a lawyer leaving a job as house counsel andgoing to work for an outside firm." said RichardL. Neumeier, chair of the ethics committee of theBoston Bar Association.

"This sort of thing happens all the time," saidVisiting Professor of law Sanford V. Levinson, whois also a fellow in ethics. "I don't think this isthe kind of situation that raises seriousquestions about conflict of interest."

Steiner refused to disclose on his salary orcompensation at Ropes & Gray.

Before Steiner joins the firm, he'll take thesummer off to relax. The lawyer is likely eagerlyawaiting the vacation after a busy spring thatincluded meetings with minority students about aPeninsula flyer that used words that manypeople found offensive and a controversy over aprobe of racial harassment in the security guarddepartment.

When Steiner does join Ropes & Gray in thefall, he'll be spending half his time at theUniversity Program in Ethics and the Professionsstudying, and perhaps teaching and writing, aboutlegal and ethical issues.

As general counsel, Steiner gained a reputationamong many Harvard officials as the person to callwhen trouble hit.

When Steiner announced his plans to step downin March 1991, Bok called him "an unfailing sourceof wise and thoughtful advice on every kind ofproblem facing the University."

Rudenstine is said to be working intensively onfinding a new general counsel. He receivedhundreds of applications, and hopes to concludethe search by July 1.Crimson File PhotoDANIEL STEINER '54