Obtaining legal assistance

If you think you have a legal issue related to University business, you should first discuss it with the head of your unit or supervisor. Together you can decide whether you need to involve an attorney. If you decide to contact an attorney, you may start by contacting either your campus Risk Management office (if the matter involves an actual or threatened claim involving the University) or your Office of Campus Counsel, who can involve attorneys from the Office of the General Counsel in Oakland as appropriate.

Contact your Campus Counsel’s office for assistance or a referral to the appropriate person prior to contacting the Office of the General Counsel in Oakland directly. In certain situations, outside counsel may be engaged to represent you or the University with respect to a claim, or to provide specialized legal services as necessary. If outside counsel is engaged to provide representation or advice on a specific matter, attorneys in the Office of the General Counsel in Oakland or your Campus Counsel’s office will ordinarily be responsible for direction and oversight of outside counsel to ensure the delivery of efficient, high quality legal services in compliance with the established budget and scope of work for the engagement.

If you are served with a summons, complaint, or other official document:

You are not authorized to accept service on behalf of the University. Refer the person who is attempting to serve you to the Office of the General Counsel, Office of the President, 1111 Franklin Street 8th Floor, Oakland, California 94607. Notify campus Risk Management (or Records Management, for certain campuses) of any attempt to serve you on behalf of the University. If you are served as a named party (individual) in a University matter, notify either campus Risk Management, Campus Counsel, or the Office of General Counsel in Oakland immediately.

If someone tries to serve you with a subpoena:

If a process server attempts to serve you with a subpoena for non-medical University records, then they should be re-directed to campus Risk Management, or Records Management. If the subpoena is addressed to you and relates to your University employment, then personal service is required and you can accept service. You should then notify your supervisor and/or Campus Counsel so that you can receive guidance on how to respond. In matters involving the Medical Centers, you may authorize the Medical Center Risk Managers to accept service on your behalf. In all University matters involving a subpoena for personal appearances, you may also authorize Campus Counsel and/or University Counsel to accept service on your behalf.

If you are served with a subpoena that is addressed to you on a non-University matter, the above does not apply. You should seek the advice of private legal counsel.

Common questions about legal representation:

  1. What happens if I am sued in connection with University business? Pursuant to the California Tort Claims Act, the University will provide you with a defense in the event you are sued personally for acts and omissions arising out of, or performed during the course and scope of, your employment by the University.
  2. Can I retain outside counsel for a University matter? Retentions of outside counsel for the purpose of providing legal services are managed exclusively by the Office of the General Counsel (in accordance with Bylaw 21.2), through attorneys in Oakland, or on the campuses through the Campus Counsel’s office.
  3. Does it matter if I have left University employment at the time I am sued? No, the University’s defense and indemnification obligations depend on whether the conduct at issue occurred in the course and scope of your employment, not whether the defendant continues to be employed by the University.
  4. Which lawyer at the Office of General Counsel will be assigned to my particular legal issue? Specialists in the Office of the General Counsel are assigned to practice groups. Contact your Campus Counsel’s office for assistance or a referral to the appropriate person.