Office of the General Counsel

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Frequently Asked Questions

Who does the Office of the General Counsel represent?
The Office of the General Counsel provides legal advice and representation to the University of San Diego. The University of San Diego is one legal entity. The Office of the General Counsel advises the trustees, officers, administrators, faculty and staff, all in their official capacities, on legal issues impacting the University.

Can I obtain personal legal advice and services from the Office of the General Counsel?
No. The Office of the General Counsel represents the University and works on University-related matters only. The Office of the General Counsel does not provide personal legal services to University employees or students.

Is my conversation with an attorney in the Office of the General Counsel confidential?
The attorney-client privilege preserves the confidentiality of communications between lawyers and their clients. As a corporation, the University can assert the privilege. Communications may be privileged whether they are oral, written or electronic. Generally, the privilege will apply when the Office of the General Counsel and a University trustee, officer, employee or agent communicate for the purpose of providing or receiving legal advice or for the purpose of obtaining information in order to provide legal advice. Those communications are privileged as to third parties, but are not privileged as to other University officials.

To preserve the attorney-client privilege, if you are an employee or agent of the University and have sought or received legal advice from the Office of the General Counsel, you are obligated to keep such communications strictly confidential. You may share the communications only with other University officials after receiving authorization to do so from the Office of the General Counsel.

If you have any questions or concerns about the confidentiality of a particular conversation, you should ask the Office of the General Counsel before the conversation begins.

Can I retain outside counsel for a University matter?
No. Only the Office of the General Counsel can retain outside counsel on behalf of the University. If you believe your department or office needs advice concerning University business, please contact the Office of the General Counsel.

What should I do if someone tries to serve me with a subpoena, complaint or other legal document?
You cannot accept service of a subpoena, complaint, or other legal document on behalf of the University. If a process server attempts to serve you with documents directed to the University, you should politely decline and direct the process server to the Office of the General Counsel.

If you are served with documents that name you personally, you may accept service (ie. sign a paper of acceptance) only for yourself. If the matter involves your duties or activities conducted by you for the University, notify the Office of the General Counsel immediately and forward the documents to this office. You may wish to keep a copy for your records. The Office of the General Counsel will review the documents, determine what steps are necessary, and discuss with you your involvement, if any.

If you are served with a subpoena or other legal document addressed to you concerning a non-University matter, you should seek the advice of private outside counsel.

What should I do if I receive a phone call or letter from a lawyer wanting to discuss the University or a University matter?
If you are contacted by an outside attorney in connection with University business or your work for the University, please notify the Office of the General Counsel immediately. Please do not speak or correspond directly with an attorney representing someone other than the University who is engaged in or threatening a claim or lawsuit against the University or against you in your official capacity for the University.

What do I do if I receive a letter requesting records maintained by the University pursuant to the Freedom of Information Act or the California Public Records Act?
As a private institution, the University is not subject to the Freedom of Information Act or the California Public Records Act. If you receive a request for information under either of these laws, please do not respond and instead please notify the Office of the General Counsel.

Who is authorized to sign contracts for the University?
The University's Contract Signature Authority policy describes the individuals who are authorized to execute contracts on behalf of the University. If you have a question regarding who the authorized signer is for a particular contract, please contact the Office of the General Counsel.

What should I do if I have a contract that needs to be signed by someone in my department?
Please review the Contract Signature Authority policy to determine if your contract requires advance review by the Office of the General Counsel or any other office before it is executed by an authorized signer.