Renee Byas

General Counsel

As RISD’s general counsel, Renee Byas provides legal services to trustees, administrators, faculty, staff, student leaders and others regarding activities they conduct on behalf of the institution. She is also a member of the President’s Cabinet and liaison to the Board of Trustees.

Previously a managing partner at the Texas-based law firm Byas Smith and Associates, Byas holds a BA and JD from Texas Southern University, where she was appointed general counsel within a year of graduation. She has also acted as general counsel and in similar capacities at Illinois State University, Houston Community College, Houston Forensic Science Center and the Lone Star College System in Texas, and of counsel at Karczewski Bradshaw Spalding.

Byas’ areas of practice include contract law, corporate transactions, compliance and regulatory affairs, labor and employment law, ethics, governance, insurance and risk management, business, procurement, accreditation, and strategic planning. She has provided legal representation before the US Department of Labor and US Office for Civil Rights, among numerous state and federal courts and administrative agencies. A fellow of the American Bar Association and a member of the National Bar Association and Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Byas has held leadership roles in many professional associations, including as secretary of the National Association of College and University Attorneys.