Frequently Asked Questions

Frequently Asked Questions

Who Does the Office of the University Counsel Represent?

The Office of the University Counsel provides legal advice and representation to the University of Virginia, the University of Virginia Medical Center and the University of Virginia’s College at Wise, including its schools, departments, and all faculty and staff acting in their official capacities for all centers.  Our office provides counsel and representation to the University, the Medical Center, and its agents in the fields of labor and employment, contracts, real estate, copyright law, discrimination claims, medical malpractice, HIPAA and FERPA obligations, and litigation, among others.  This office does not provide counsel or representation to individual faculty, staff, administrators or students in matters outside the scope of University business.

Can I contact you about my personal legal issues?

The Office of the University Counsel represents the University of Virginia, the University’s Medical Center, and the College at Wise. It does not provide legal advice or representation to faculty, staff or students in personal legal matters.

What is attorney-client privilege?

Information provided to the Office of the University Counsel for the purpose of seeking legal advice is generally protected from disclosure by the attorney-client privilege. This means that clients represented by the Office of the University Counsel can communicate with the attorneys in our office about the legal issues facing the University with the reasonable expectation that the communications are confidential and may not be disclosed to third parties. The attorney-client privilege may be waived if the information is disclosed to others outside the attorney-client relationship. Please consult with the Office of University Counsel if you have any questions about whether certain information is protected by this privilege.

If I’m sued for something arising out of my employment at the university, do I need to hire an attorney?

This is determined on a case-by-case basis. To be eligible for representation by the Office of the University Counsel, the lawsuit must name you in your official capacity as a faculty or staff member of the University, including the Medical Center, and you must have been carrying out your official duties as a University or Medical Center employee in good faith. However, this is not a guarantee that the University will represent you. In the event that you are named in a lawsuit in connection with your employment, a member of the University Counsel’s office will review the legal documents and contact you to discuss the matter.

Can my department hire a law firm to serve as a consultant if the law firm will not be providing legal services?

Generally, the Office of University Counsel is charged with providing legal advice and assistance to the University and its units and employees who are engaged in University business. The University is required to secure external approval from the Office of the Attorney General before we retain outside counsel to represent us. When contemplating retaining an attorney or law firm for any purpose, University departments should first discuss the proposed relationship with the Office of University Counsel.

What do I do if I am harassed or discriminated against?

If you believe you have been harassed or discriminated against, please contact the Office for Equal Opportunity and Civil Rights. For information on resources available to our employees on preventing and addressing discrimination and harassment, please visit the resources page for PADHR. For more information on the University policies governing discrimination and harassment, please visit the EOCR policies and procedures page

What if I have questions about disability accommodations?

For more information on disability accommodations, please visit the Disability-Related Accommodations webpage on the ADA Coordinator's website. Any questions regarding disability accommodations, please email the ADA Coordinator at [email protected]. To report a barrier, please use the Report a Barrier tool. Information on resources for individuals with disabilities can be found on the Office for Equal Opportunity and Civil Rights website. For more information on disability advocacy at the University, please visit the University’s Disability Advocacy and Action Committee blog.

How do I file a grievance regarding my employment status?

You may have the option of filing a grievance either in accordance with University Policy or the State Grievance Procedure. The process for filing a grievance is discussed in UVA Policy HRM-027. Please be advised that neither the University of Virginia nor the Office of the University Counsel can give you legal advice on grievance matters arising from your employment. Our office represents the University in all grievance procedures.

What if I have a question about the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA)?

To request public records or to view the status of your request, please visit the University's Records Request page. For more information on Freedom of Information Act (“FOIA”) requests, please review the information on the About FOIA webpage. If you receive a request for documents related to University business or activities, forward it immediately to the FOIA office.

How can I get a copy of my student or patient records?

To request a copy of your own academic records, please contact the University Registrar. For copies of your own medical records, please review the information provided for patients who want their medical records. The Federal Education Records Privacy Act (“FERPA”) precludes the University from providing student records and other information regarding University students to third parties, with limited exceptions.

What do I do if I receive a litigation/preservation hold?

If you receive a litigation or preservation hold from the Office of the University Counsel, it is because we believe you may have documents related to the matter identified in the hold. Please read through the document carefully as failure to comply may have legal consequences. If you have questions about your obligations under the hold, please contact the attorney who sent the preservation hold to you. If you have questions about how to preserve documents, please contact the UVA Office of Records & Information Management.

Where do I serve a subpoena on the University or University Medical Center?

Subpoena service for academic records should be directed to the Secretary for the Board of Visitors of the University of Virginia or to Risk Management for service of medical records on the University Medical Center. 

What do I do if I receive a subpoena for University records or my testimony as an employee?

If you are an employee of the University, do not accept service for any subpoena requesting University Records, but contact our office as soon as possible. For subpoenas requesting your testimony in a deposition or trial as an employee of the University or the Medical Center, please contact our office immediately to discuss. The Office of University Counsel cannot give you legal advice if you receive a subpoena for a personal matter.

What do I do if an outside attorney contacts me?

If an outside attorney contacts you in connection to University business or in your official capacity as a University employee, direct the communication to the Office of the University Counsel. Please do not communicate with any outside attorney without prior consultation with The Office of University Counsel.

How does in-state residency and in-state tuition work?

For issues arising out of your status as an in-state resident, or to appeal the decision denying your residency, please review the Office of Virginia Status Appeal Process. For questions on whether you are eligible for in-state residency status, please see the State Council for Higher Education in Virginia (SCHEV) website's information on in-state eligibility requirements

What if I have a question about intellectual property?

For information on copyright, please review the copyright policies and guidance provided by the library. For information on intellectual property as it relates to research and innovation at the University, please visit the UVA Licensing and Ventures Group. Copyright is also covered under Policy GOV-005, which covers the University’s adherence to copyright law; and Policy RES-001 which discusses the ownership of copyright or intellectual property for works produced while in the course of University Business.

Who do I ask for permission to use a University Trademark?

The Office of Licensing and Trademark protects and promotes the marks, names, and logos of the University of Virginia. For questions regarding external use of University trademark rights, please contact the Office of Licensing and Trademark at [email protected] or visit the Office of Licensing and Trademark website. For questions regarding internal (University) use of University trademarks, please contact the UVA Bookstore at [email protected] with any questions.

How do I make a charitable gift to the University?

For information on how you can make a charitable gift to the University, please visit the website for the Office for University Advancement or speak with a personal attorney.

Do I have authority to sign a University contract, memorandum of understanding, or other agreement?

Generally, no. The President, Executive Vice President and Chief Operating Officer and Vice President for Finance of the University have signatory authority for official University business, and can delegate that authority to individuals acting in their official capacity for the University. A delegation must be made in writing by the President, EVP, or VP for Finance to a named individual and it must include the types of documents that the individual is allowed to sign, including any dollar limitations. This is discussed in more detail in Policy BOV-014 and Policy FIN-036. Unless you have signatory authority, you cannot sign any official documents on behalf of the University.

What is the contract review process?

University procurement contracts (excluding contracts for the Medical Center) must comply with the processes of Procurement and Supplier Diversity Services. Please familiarize yourself with the contract review information. For procurement contracts for the Medical Center, you must abide by the information provided by the Medical Center's Department of Supply Chain Management. For contracts for research, including clinical research conducted through the Health System, please review the information provided by the Office of Grants and Contracts. For academic program agreements, please review the Provost's Office's guidelines.  Contracts entered into by the University, including the Medical Center, must be signed by an individual with delegated signatory authority. Please review the information regarding signatory authority on this website for more information.

A vendor has contacted me about donating excess product inventory to my department. Can I accept this gift?

All goods and services acquired by the University, including those given as gifts, become the property of the University and must be reported to Procurement within 3 business days of receipt. Under no circumstances can the item be given to or retained by an employee for his/her personal use. Please review Policy FIN-019 which discusses this matter. 

Where can I get something notarized?

We have a notary in our office available for University and Medical Center employees seeking to notarize documents while acting in an official University capacity. Please call our office to schedule an appointment for notary services. Individuals seeking notary services for personal matters should contact other notary services, such as a local bank.

I have questions about a Judgment against me regarding care I received at the Medical Center.

The University of Virginia Medical Center patient services website includes a phone number (434-924-8701) for the Patient Financial Services Judicial Affairs Department. The University Counsel’s office will direct you to this department for any questions regarding a past due notice, Medical Center judgement lien, or questions regarding a late bill.  Please see the Medical Center's information on Billing and Insurance for additional information.

I am a reporter and have a question about a matter your office is handling.

All media inquiries should be directed to the Office of Communications.  

I am a faculty member and have a question about a letter of recommendation someone requested from me.

You are never under a legal obligation to provide a letter of recommendation to any student. If you are concerned about providing a recommendation for the student, you have the right to refuse for any reason, including academic, personal, or moral concerns.

I am a student with a legal issue and need help.

Please be advised that our office cannot give students, faculty or staff legal advice for any personal matters. If you are a student, please utilize the services offered by UVA Student Legal Services




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