The Office of General Counsel provides legal advice and representation to Hofstra University and all of its schools and departments. This office represents trustees, employees, and officers to the extent any of these persons are acting in their official capacities relating to University business. The Office does not represent or advise individual employees or students on personal legal matters.
Frequently Asked Questions
In an effort to assist the University community in its understanding of the function and role of the Office of General Counsel and to provide clarity on some pertinent procedures, we list some frequently asked questions. These questions and answers do not constitute legal advice and should not be interpreted as legal advice.
- Who does the Office of General Counsel represent?
- Is the Office of General Counsel able to give me personal legal advice?
No. The Office of General Counsel may not provide personal legal advice to employees or students of the University.
- Are my conversations or communications with lawyers in the Office of General Counsel confidential—in other words are they subject to the Attorney Client Privilege?
In general, communications between lawyers from the Office of General Counsel and employees of the University are privileged—or confidential—and should not be revealed or disclosed to third parties when those communications are made for the purpose of obtaining or providing legal advice. The communication loses this privilege, in other words, loses its confidential nature, if an employee discloses the communication to a third party. Therefore, it is important for employees of the University to be careful to keep the confidentiality of communications—e.g. emails, memoranda, conversations—with lawyers from the Office of General Counsel. For example, if a lawyer from the Office of General Counsel responds to an email from you with advice on how to proceed on a University matter, you should not forward that email to third parties, copy third parties on that email or repeat the advice to third parties (e.g. “our legal department told us….”). If you are unsure if a communication with a lawyer from the Office of General Counsel is “privileged” or may be disclosed to someone else, do not disclose the communication and follow up with the Office of General Counsel.
- What should I do if I receive a call or a letter from an attorney relating to University work?
If an attorney contacts you by mail, email, telephone or otherwise regarding any University matter, you should notify the Office of General Counsel immediately and we will work with you to determine appropriate next steps. You should not correspond or communicate with an attorney regarding University matters other than to refer the attorney to the Office of General Counsel.
Visits by/Communications from Government Agents/Officials or Process Servers; Service of Subpoenas and Other Requests for Information/Records
- What should I do if a process server comes to my office and tries to give me a complaint, subpoena, or other legal documents?
Only the Office of General Counsel accepts legal documents on behalf of the University. If a process server comes to your office, he or she should be directed to the Office of General Counsel.
- What should I do if I receive by mail a subpoena or other documents asking me to appear as a witness in court or to hand over copies of University records?
All subpoenas or similar legal documents seeking University records or requesting you to appear on University business should immediately be sent to the Office of General Counsel in Suite 201 of Hofstra Hall. We will work with your department to respond appropriately.
- What should I do if a government official comes to my office, requesting copies of documents or other information?
Whenever a government official comes to your office, politely ask the official to show you proper credentials so he or she can be accurately identified. Obtain the following information: full name, telephone number and business address; and title. Review the government official’s badge to confirm identity and ask the official for the purpose of visit. Once you have obtained this information, ask the inspector or agent to wait in a public area and immediately notify your supervisor, providing your supervisor with the information. Supervisors should immediately notify the Office of General Counsel. Do not leave the official alone or unattended.
In the alternative, if you are unable to verify the individual’s credentials, direct the individual to the Public Safety Office. Immediately contact the Office of Public Safety and notify them that you are sending a government inspector/agent for verification.
Contracts and Agreements
- A vendor asked me to sign and return an agreement (letter agreement/lease/purchase agreement). Can I sign the agreement on behalf of the University?
All contracts – any document that commits the University to pay another party, provide goods and services to another party, or otherwise binds the University – must be submitted to the Office of Financial Affairs and/or the Office of General Counsel in accordance with the contract process. See the Contract Policy for additional details. If you are not sure if something is a contract subject to this policy, but a vendor is asking you to sign it, make sure you check with your supervisor or the Office of Financial Affairs before doing so.
- Is competitive bidding required before I purchase something on behalf of the University?
Competitive bidding is encouraged for all purchases, and is required for purchases with an aggregate value of $ 5,000.00 or more. See the Competitive Bidding Policy for details. You should also be aware of the Conflict of Interest Policy when transacting business on behalf of the University. Among other things, this policy provides examples of transactions that could give rise to an actual or apparent conflict of interest and which therefore should be disclosed and approved in advance in accordance with that policy (for example, hiring a relative as a consultant for University business).
- I know I need a written agreement with a vendor, but I don’t know where to start. What should I do?
Gather all pertinent information and any contract draft or written summary of proposed contract terms, and contact the Office of General Counsel or the Office of Financial Affairs for additional assistance. See the Contract Policy for additional information.
Conflicts of Interest
- Can I hire a friend or relative to work in my department?
No employee is permitted to supervise the work of a relative, as defined in the Conflict of Interest and Commitment Policy. All other prospective employees should be evaluated solely on the basis of their merit and fitness for any particular position. If you cannot objectively evaluate an applicant, you should recuse yourself from the decision.
- Can I use a friend or relative to provide services to the University as a vendor?
All University employees are prohibited from doing business with the University through an "affiliate" unless it is disclosed and approved in advance. "Affiliates" include certain relatives, as well as organizations in which the employee has certain interests. See the Conflict of Interest and Commitment Policy for details.
- Can I accept a gift from a vendor?
You may not accept cash gifts from a vendor. You may accept small, non-cash gifts only in certain limited circumstances. See the Conflict of Interest and Commitment Policy for details.
- Can my department hold a raffle as a fundraiser?
There are many legal restrictions governing the conduct of raffles, and the Office of General Counsel and Office of Financial Affairs work with departments to ensure all requirements are met. All raffles must be approved in advance by submitting a Raffle Registration Form to the Office of General Counsel in accordance with the Raffle Policy.
- I am supervising a student organization that is running a raffle. Can the president of the student organization sign the Raffle Registration Form and run the raffle?
- My department is hosting a free event where attendees have a chance to win a prize. The attendees do not have to make any purchase to have a chance to win. Do I have to submit a Raffle Registration Form for this?
No – this is not considered a raffle under our policy, but you may have to submit other forms. In order to be a raffle, individuals must pay money or something of value in exchange for a chance to win. However, if a prize is being awarded, you must consult the Finance department regarding tax implications and any necessary forms that the winner may be required to complete.
Use of Hofstra Name, Logos, Trademarks
- May I cut and paste a Hofstra logo or use the Hofstra University trademark on a memo, social media page or web page without any permission?
Official University logos, graphics, and images are owned by Hofstra University and should not be used unless (1) they are obtained from University Relations; and (2) their use is approved by your department’s Vice President or, for academic departments, by the Provost, as well as the Vice President for University Relations. Use without consent may violate trademark laws. Hofstra logos should never be used on personal websites, blogs, or social media pages, or in any other way unrelated to your official Hofstra responsibilities.
How to Report Various Incidents
- Workplace accidents or injuries: contact the Department of Public Safety and obtain and complete an accident report.
- Other Campus accidents or injuries: contact the Department of Public Safety to report the accident or incident.
- Unlawful Harassment, Discrimination, Sexual Violence or Retaliation: See the University’s Nondiscrimination Policy for the University resources and contact information.
- Employee Misconduct: See the Policy on Reporting Employee Misconduct (Whistleblowing Policy)
- What should I do if I believe I have been subject to discrimination or harassment on the basis of race, sex, disability or other protected trait?
There are many resources at the University to assist you. See the Nondiscrimination Policy for a list of contacts and resources appropriate to the type of complaint you wish to make.