University of Denver

IAALS Advances Justice with Kenneth Thompson

Founding Executive Director

IAALS simply would not be what it is without the support of our staff, partners, and friends. They are essential to our efforts and hail from a wide range of backgrounds, viewpoints, and sectors. Every month, IAALS shines the spotlight on one such person and takes you behind the scenes for a lighthearted glimpse into those upon whose guidance and support we rely. Together we are advancing justice.

ken_thompson_2.jpg

Ken Thompson, General Counsel, RELX Group;
Board of Advisors, IAALS

One of my favorite memories of Ken was visiting him at the RELX office in Cincinnati. Ken’s office is elegant but not ostentatious, and the focus of the office is pictures of his family. That office represents Ken—a very successful, understated man who thrives at work but whose heart lives with his family. We were lucky enough to welcome Ken’s wife, Mary, to some IAALS events and she, too, exudes that same clarity of focus and balance.

Ken gives generously and was an early supporter of our work in legal education reform. He attended the Educating Tomorrow’s Lawyers conferences, reviewed materials for us, and acted as an ambassador to spread the word. He was a foundation for Foundations for Practice even as the project was evolving. In a world where people toss and turn and where conflict is the norm, Ken is moored. He stands solid. He can be counted on to be thoughtful but decisive, candid but constructive. He was a superb Board of Advisors member for all of those reasons. Thank you, Ken.

Earlier this month we caught up with Ken to bring you the most recent edition of Partner Profile. Ken has served on the Board of IAALS since 2015 and will step down July 1, 2019.

What IAALS project has been most important to you? The evolution of IAALS’ work around legal education. This work has evolved from the Educating Tomorrow’s Lawyers membership-driven law school consortium to the groundbreaking Foundations for Practice work that has been broadly conceived across all of legal education. Given the changing face of the law, this project has the opportunity to influence the industry in unprecedented ways. If I had to select just one project, it would be this, but it’s a tough question because there are so many great projects during my time on the Board. I have to say the Rule One Initiative and IAALS work on civil justice reform made huge changes happen and the work that has been done in domestic relations has made it easier for families to stay intact.

ken_thompson_1.jpg

What is your idea of perfect happiness? Surrounded by family on my boat in Eastern Tennessee, beer in hand. My wife, Mary, and I have four children, two granddaughters, and the newest addition to our family, one grandson.

What living person or historical figure do you most admire? Abraham Lincoln. There are a number of reasons for that. I have found inspiration in his rise from humble beginnings to leadership of the United States in a time of tremendous turmoil. He provides a reminder that out of unexpected places come people who can have significant impact on the world. While he was not a perfect leader, and history has put a sheen on his presidency and life, he was willing to lead at great personal sacrifice and put himself at great risk.

If you were stranded on a deserted island, what three things would you have and why? My wife; a communication device to maintain contact with family, friends, and colleagues; and access to a good library because I am naturally curious and inquisitive.

What do you consider your greatest professional achievement? My ability to enter, thrive, survive, and influence a multi-national corporation both through my early work to within a few years becoming the chief legal officer for Lexis Nexis and now Chief Compliance Officer and General Counsel at RELX. I have had amazing opportunities to build a global legal department working alongside tremendous people. I served as a member of the executive leadership team when Lexis Nexis decided Rule of Law was going to be our issue. This culminated in Lexis Nexis’ Rule of Law Foundation. I’m proud to have been a part of building an employee-driven culture that makes giving back to the community a high priority.   

What do you see as the greatest challenges facing the courts? Lack of public confidence, mistrust, and divisions in society. Politicization of the courts.