Things You Should Know

What type of legal services does the Office of General Counsel provide?

The Office of General Counsel (OGC) provides legal and risk management advice on a variation of matters to the Board of Trustees, the President, university administrators, and faculty and staff acting on behalf of the University.

Who does the OGC represent?

The OGC provides legal advice and representation to the University, its schools, academic and administrative departments, and its affiliated entities. This includes providing advice and counsel to the University’s trustees, officers, administrators, faculty and staff acting in their official capacities on a variety of issues affecting the University. The OGC does not represent or advise faculty, staff or students on personal legal matters. For personal legal advice, a private attorney should be consulted.  

Do I have signature authority to sign contracts or to enter into a transaction on behalf of the University?

Under the current contract process, only three individuals have authority to bind the University in contractual matters (the President, the Provost and the Vice President for Administration and Finance). Please refer to the Contract Review Process

I received a subpoena to appear as a witness in a case. What should I do?

If you have been subpoenaed in connection with your duties or activities at the University, contact the attorney that you have been assigned to represent you in the legal proceeding.  If an attorney has not been assigned to represent you in a matter related to the University, contact the OGC for further instructions. If you have been subpoenaed in a matter unrelated to the University, you will need to consult personal legal counsel.

I received a subpoena to turn over documents (a subpoena duces tecum) relating to University business. How should I respond?

If the matter involves an active litigated matter involving the University and an attorney has been assigned, you should notify the assigned counsel as well as the OGC and follow the instructions of the assigned counsel.

If the matter relates to a University student or employee, other than yourself, a copy of the subpoena should be immediately forwarded to the OGC, as a deadline to respond is imposed on the University.   In many cases, the material sought is of a routine nature and the subpoena is often accompanied by a release from the student or employee.  For example, a subpoena for a student’s records accompanied by a signed release by the student, or a subpoena for employment records accompanied by signed release by the employee should be directed to the department holding those records and the documents should be supplied.  If the subpoena is not accompanied by a release, OGC will work with you to take appropriate legal action with respect to the requested documents and the subpoena.  Generally, this will result in giving the student /employee notice of the subpoena but taking no further action on their behalf.

If you are being subpoenaed in your individual capacity for activities unrelated to the University, the University cannot represent you, defend you or refer you to specific counsel.

I have been contacted by a government enforcement officer or law enforcement agency about University matters. What should I do?

When contacted by a government enforcement official, including police outside of the University, (not University Police), seeking access to University records and files or requesting to interview University faculty or staff regarding University matters, politely inform the officer that the University will generally cooperate but only in consultation with its legal counsel.  Request a copy of any subpoena or search warrant produced by the officer and contact the OGC immediately for further instructions.

I am being sued. Will the Office of General Counsel represent me?

If you are being sued as a result of activities performed within the scope of your University employment, the University will provide protection from liability for such activities in accordance with the University’s policy on indemnification and the terms and condition of the New Jersey Tort Claims Act.  Generally, the Attorney General’s Office represents the University and employees in litigated matters arising out of the actions within the scope of their duties. Occasionally, outside counsel may also be assigned.  In either case, once you are assigned an attorney, the State also provides indemnification, i.e. pays any settlement or judgment that arises out of the performance of your authorized activities. The terms and limitations of this representation are outlined in a representation letter provided by the Attorney General’s Office, that will be provided to you at the time an attorney is assigned to you.  

If you are being sued in your individual capacity for activities unrelated to the University, the OGC cannot represent you, defend you or refer you to specific counsel. However, you may want to contact The New Jersey State Bar Association for lawyer referral services assistance.