Sara L. Wilkinson


With nearly 15 years of experience, primarily as in-house counsel, Sara works with clients — and in-house counsel — in the areas of employment, IP/technology, business and real estate law. She is known for being a trusted partner and collaborator, providing a common sense legal approach and balancing business needs with associated risks.

Her previous roles include nearly seven years as Deputy General Counsel for Corvias Group, a privately owned, 800-employee real estate solutions company dedicated to public-private partnerships, and three years as Director of Compliance and Corporate Counsel at GTECH (now IGT), a publicly-traded international gaming and lottery technology services company.

Sara has handled all facets of construction and property management, as well as human resources matters and employment law issues including those related to the Fair Labor Standards Act, Family and Medical Leave Act, ADA and EEOC.

She has been responsible for the oversight of codes of conduct, employee handbooks and risk assessments.  Sara has worked extensively on licensing/regulatory issues in the gaming sector, corporate governance and compliance-related issues.

As in-house counsel, Sara handled a broad range of matters that spanned the areas of employment law, construction, property management, information technology, public-private partnerships, renewable energy, compliance and corporate governance.

  • Key member of team responsible for company’s acquisition of an Air Force portfolio as part of the Military Housing Privatization Initiative, valued at over $545,000,000 and covering six separate bases, with 2,500+ acres of land and nearly 4,000 homes.
  • Legal lead for corporate restructuring and creation of new parent company, including developing a process for assigning all employees, contracts and obligations from previous parent company to new entity.
  • Lead member of Enterprise Risk Management (ERM) team, developing ERM assessment, employee survey and risk categories. Provided legal support for compliance and risk matters across all functional areas of the company.
  • Collaborated and partnered with business colleagues to provide day-to-day legal support for property management, development and construction for privatized family housing projects at 13 Army and Air Force installations, as well as multiple student housing locations. Highly involved with employee matters, resident relations matters, subcontractor issues, ground lease issues and coordination with the Department of Defense.
  • Served as Standard Operating Procedures Administrator for 800+ employee company, leading review, approval and governance process of SOPs, including launching an electronic SOP Library.
  • Created and implemented contract-centralization process, as well as contract templates across multiple functional areas, to eliminate inefficiencies, mitigate risk and create additional capacity for team members. Created and presented contract training to business partners on an annual basis.
  • Managed company’s licensing, regulatory and compliance matters for both US company and Italian parent company. Oversaw all gaming and lottery licensing activities and integrated with the company’s internal audit, sales, human resources, legal and finance departments to obtain necessary approvals.
  • Managed a company’s twelve-member licensing team, developing its regulatory licensing process including state, federal and international agencies. Reviewed and approved all license applications prior to their submission to regulators. Closely collaborated with local, state, federal and international regulators and outside counsel to gain support for a smooth licensing and approval process.
  • Responsible for company’s worldwide global compliance program, including employee awareness and education regarding the code of conduct, incident reporting hotlines and email accounts and background investigations.
Sara is active as a volunteer for the East Greenwich Animal Protection League. She previously volunteered for the Rhode Island Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals.

Sara was recently interviewed by Corporate Counsel for  two articles:

A June 2017 employment-focused article entitled: Making GC Head of Human Resources Could Have Helped Uber, Attorneys Say.”

“From what I’ve read about Uber, the human resources folks weren’t empowered,” Wilkinson said. She said blending the responsibilities of a human resources director and an in-house lawyer also depends on the individual: Do they have the background in both areas? And, as companies mature, Wilkinson said, HR and legal need to be cooperative, but independent. The best, and most foundational advice, she said, is to simply get both departments working together.”

A July 2017 article entitled: “In-House Counsel Role in Branding is Key to Success” which outlines the importance of  in-house counsel in the branding process.

It’s often the case that the in-house attorney’s role with respect to branding efforts, at least in part, is to know the answers to specific questions, such as whether a domain name is available, said Sara Wilkinsonsenior counsel at Duffy & Sweeney and former deputy general counsel for real estate solutions company Corvias Group. More broadly, though, “the role of in-house counsel is really to make sure that whatever team is doing the branding … knows legal is a resource for them,” she said. And this team should be aware that there’s no need to wait until the end of the process to go to legal, she noted, “so that they can avoid the cease and desist letter and significant amounts of money invested into a brand that they cannot use.

Education

Indiana University (B.A. Criminal Justice & Psychology)
Emory University School of Law (J.D.)

Bar Admissions

Rhode Island
Massachusetts
US District Court for the District of Rhode Island