Office of the General Counsel

Requesting Use of Outside Counsel

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If a campus has a matter which may require the services of outside legal counsel, you should contact the General Counsel, specifying the issues involved, the reasons why outside legal advice is being sought, the department or unit to be billed for such advice, and the proposed budget.  Normally, the department or unit requesting or directly benefitting from the advice is responsible for providing funds for payment.  The General Counsel will determine whether the matter may be handled more effectively by in-house attorneys or by other outside counsel.  The University has current retainer agreements with a number of law firms and one of these may be appropriate to handle a new matter. 

If the General Counsel determines that additional outside counsel should be retained, the Office will generally solicit proposals from several appropriate firms (with campus input) and then negotiate rates to achieve the best value.  We will then prepare an engagement letter which specifies the terms upon which such counsel will be retained, including the fee arrangement, the nature of the specific assignment, and the outside counsel's reporting requirement to the General Counsel.  This process can often be completed quite quickly. 

Billings by outside counsel are to be sent directly to the General Counsel who will forward them upon approval to the campus for payment.

Please be aware that outside legal advice is expensive and that the Board of Trustees policy requiring all outside engagements to be selected, approved and supervised by the General Counsel is to ensure consistent, competent advice and to control costs.  We are very careful about authorizing the use of outside counsel and monitoring monthly bills in order to meet these goals.  The University will not pay outside attorneys unless they are engaged through this process.

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