A University of Montana Law School graduate and former director of the Equal Opportunity and Affirmative Action Office has been named the school’s new legal counsel, effective this week.

Lucy France, who earned her law degree with honors from UM in 1993, replaces former UM legal counsel David Aronofsky, who retired from the position last year after 18 years of service.

UM President Royce Engstrom named France to the post.

“It’s a real privilege and I take the responsibility very seriously,” France said Monday. “There are some big shoes to fill. (Aronofsky) has been a great asset.”

The university’s top lawyer reports to the president and manages all legal issues facing the school. France also will be part of the Montana University System legal team and will work closely with attorneys in the Office of the Commissioner of Higher Education.

France has co-chaired the Diversity Advisory Council since 2009. As chair of the Diversity Task Force, she helped spearhead a Diversity Strategic Plan, and led the diversity standard for NCAA accreditation.

“She has accumulated that knowledge through her work at UM these past years,” Engstrom said of France. “She has been a tremendous asset to the university and will continue to be so in her new role.”

After law school, France clerked for U.S. District Court Judge James Battin during 1993-94. She worked in the Missoula law firm of Garlington, Lohn & Robinson from 1995 to 2008, and became a partner in 2003.

Last June, Aronofsky announced his retirement, prompting the university to re-evaluate the duties of three offices that report to the president, including legal counsel, director of the Equal Opportunity and Affirmative Action Office, and the internal audit division.

“There aren’t many changes,” France said. “The position reports to both the university president and the Montana Board of Regents, but the primary responsibility is to the president here and the affiliated campuses on the west side of the Divide.”

Reporter Martin Kidston can be reached at 523-5260, or at martin.kidston@missoulian.com.

(5) comments

Bass Whacker
Bass Whacker

As one who was familiar with the hiring process when Aronofsky was hired, it appeared UM was not looking for an attorney in the classic sense for the position. They seemd to want a policy advocate for special interests, and a political corrrectness officer. If you want to know why UM has been plagued with problems at all departments in the adminstration and is paying countless bureaucrats not to work any longer, it's because they haven't had an independent legal analyst or advisor in their midst, but more of an internal rubber stamp. They appear to have chosen to continue in that paradigm with this hire. Look for preventing hurt feelings to the the cause celeb on campus while administrators make million dollar mistakes goes on unabated.


It appears that UM is obtaining quite a hard core leftist for its chief counsel. Just what UM does not need, more leftists. Does not UM have enough of these type of people? How about a little balance, or could they not handle that?


There are apparently some big changes underfoot within the Montana University System - Ms. France has decided to remove UM-Western from the pervue of UM. Either that or she needs to refer to a map because Dillon is EAST of the Continental Divide. Pretty disappointing that someone of her education and level of responsibility would such an offhand comment. Good Luck UM!!


Bobby Lee is obviously mentally unbalanced. Read his past posts. They are the rantings of a lunatic. He also obviously has an axe to grind against UM. Get a life buddy.


- "UM President Royce Engstrom named France to the post."

No outside interference? No hiring panel? Just blatant favoritism as usual. No nepotism there then.

Engstrom's just replaced one incompetent liar with another. It's been France's job to routinely lie over the past few years to protect the university from flawed hiring practices brought on by yet another piece of Engstrom nepotism; in placing the head of HR, who the hiring panel said lacked the experience and qualifications to effectively run the department. The hiring panel was proved right, and France has had to play catch-up ever since. Her job has been to obfuscate every grievance, every piece of EEO documentation until the person gives up and goes home. Unless, of course, that person happens to be a registered sex offender (eg. Fredderick Whitlock), in which case they will hire them, not inform the department where they work that they are a sex offender, until they offend - often repeatedly - and then pay them off to go away. Whence, in this case, Whitlock gets arrested in Polson for not registering himself as an offender. No, you can't make this stuff up. If there is one thing wrong with the UofM administration it is the growing clique of protected insiders willing to cover up every bad decision at the expense of the university's reputation - and France is but another one of those leading that charge. She must be so proud.

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