In Pat Robertson’s Orbit

Lou Isakoff went from the Christian Broadcast Network to Regent University

Published in Corporate Counsel Edition - May 2010 — May 2010

When you’re the general counsel and vice president of Pat Robertson’s Regent University in Virginia Beach, Va., there’s no such thing as an average day; but Lou Isakoff thinks this has less to do with Robertson, or the university, than the “general” in general counsel. “Unless you have a very large legal department, I think general counsels are a lot like the old-time general practitioners,” he says. “You don’t have the luxury of specializing, so every day’s going to be different and you’ve got to deal with whatever comes your way.”

This past year, for example, Isakoff helped guide Regent through the process of reaccreditation with the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools. He deals with everything from student issues to faculty and vendor contracts: from questions relating to the construction of new student dormitories to acquiring the rights to plays produced at the school. “After years of practice,” he says, “you get the experience to triage cases, so that you’re able to do what’s necessary to keep the balls juggling without letting them fall.”

Isakoff started in his current position in 2003, but he had been in Robertson’s orbit for some time. After studying as an undergrad at Miami University of Ohio and graduating from Ohio State with his J.D. and a master’s in public administration, he landed his first full-time legal job at Cavitch Familo & Durkin in Cleveland. On why he chose to become a lawyer instead of pursuing his other passion of administrative service in the government, Isakoff says, “It was really the direct, hands-on ability to help people, rather than just working on budgets or theoretical problems––being able to meet with clients and try to solve their problems.”

In the few years he spent at Cavitch in the early 1980s, Isakoff had plenty of opportunities to develop his legal skills. “The first thing [I learned while working there] is to be thorough and to analyze a problem from all angles,” he says, “and not to make assumptions, but to really dig into the facts.”

About the time Isakoff was ready for a new challenge, he saw an ad in a legal journal for an associate counsel position at Robertson’s Christian Broadcasting Network. CBN turned out to be a great fit for Isakoff, and to this day, he still does work for the network in addition to his duties at Regent. “It was just a wonderful place to be,” Isakoff says. “One of the things I appreciate is being with an organization that has a great sense of mission, of what they’re trying to accomplish; not being driven just by bottom-line profits, but somewhat of a higher calling.”

In 1989, Robertson asked Isakoff to take the legal helm of CBN’s Family Channel, which had just spun off into a private company. “He’s incredibly sharp,” Isakoff says of Robertson. “He’s a little bit of a renaissance man, a quick study, and a Yale law graduate. He gets some bad press, but I think a lot of the press is inaccurate. I’ve also seen him very dedicated to spreading the Gospel and to humanitarian efforts.”

As for the controversy over Robertson’s comments following the Haiti earthquake, Isakoff points to Operation Blessing International, Robertson’s international charity, which sent 1,200 tons of relief supplies to the country within the first 30 days of the disaster.

Like Robertson, Isakoff’s faith plays a large role in his career. “It requires you to look not only at what’s most expedient, but what’s right and proper,” he says. “It causes you to perhaps have more empathy with the other side in a transaction––not giving up what’s valuable to your client, but doing ideally what the law says you should do:

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