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FAQs

These FAQs are provided for informational purposes only and should not be relied upon as a substitute for actual legal advice.  Accordingly, please do not hesitate to contact the Office of General Counsel if you have any questions or concerns.

What type of legal services does the WVU Office of General Counsel provide?

The Office of General Counsel provides a full range of legal services to the University in a variety of areas, including, but not limited to:  business transactions, litigation, real estate, employment, immigration, corporate governance, student issues, statutory and regulatory compliance, healthcare, copyright, and intellectual property.  When appropriate, the Office of General Counsel also retains and supervises outside counsel on particular matters requiring specialized expertise.

Who does the WVU Office of General Counsel represent?

The Office of General Counsel provides legal advice and representation to West Virginia University; West Virginia University Potomac State College; West Virginia University Institute of Technology; West Virginia University Robert C. Byrd Health Sciences Center, including the Martinsburg and Charleston divisions; West Virginia University Research Corporation; West Virginia University Innovation Corporation; and WVU Extension Offices. 

The Office of General Counsel provides advice and counsel to University administrators, faculty, and staff members only when they are acting within the scope of their employment with the University. The Office of General Counsel does not provide legal advice or representation to administrators, faculty, and staff members of the University community on matters of a personal nature or on matters adverse to the interests of the University.  Accordingly, there are no separate attorney-client relationships established with individual administrators, faculty, and staff members. 

The Office of General Counsel does not provide personal legal services to University students.  Students may contact WVU Student Legal Services to determine if they are eligible for free legal services.  http://campuslife.wvu.edu/student_legal_services

The Office of General Counsel does not represent the following affiliated entities or their employees:

Can I retain outside counsel for a University matter?

No.  The decision to hire outside attorneys rests solely with the Office of General Counsel.  Administrators, faculty, staff members, and students may not employ outside attorneys to represent or provide legal services to the University.  Additionally, University personnel should not contact outside attorneys concerning University business without first consulting the Office of General Counsel.  All communications from outside attorneys should be immediately referred to the Office of General Counsel.

If you believe an outside attorney is needed for a University matter, you should contact the Office of General Counsel.  Our office will evaluate the matter and determine whether an outside attorney is appropriate.

I am being sued.  Will WVU’s Office of General Counsel represent me?

If you are being sued as a result of activities performed within the scope of your University employment, generally speaking and subject to certain exceptions, the University’s liability insurance may apply and the University (or its insurer) will provide you with legal representation.  The certain exceptions include, but are not limited to, if you were acting outside the scope of your employment and/or you acted maliciously, in bad faith, wantonly, recklessly, or criminally.

If you are being sued in your personal capacity for activities unrelated to the University or outside the scope of the University’s representation of you, the Office of General Counsel cannot advise, represent, or defend you.  You are entitled to retain your own lawyer at your own expense.  In such event, we also cannot refer you to specific lawyer.  However, you may want to contact the following lawyer referral service for assistance:  The West Virginia State Bar Lawyer Referral Service at http://www.wvlawyerreferral.org/.

A lawyer has contacted me to discuss a University matter.  What should I do?

You should not speak with any lawyers not employed by the University regarding a University matter or University business without pre-approval from the Office of General Counsel.  Please refer the lawyer to the Office of General Counsel to assist with their inquiry.  Additionally, please immediately notify the Office of General Counsel regarding the contact by the outside lawyer. 

If you have been contacted by a lawyer regarding a matter unrelated to the University or a personal matter, you should consult your personal legal counsel.  If you are in need of personal legal counsel, you may want to contact the following lawyer referral service for assistance:  The West Virginia State Bar Lawyer Referral Service at http://www.wvlawyerreferral.org/.

I received a subpoena to appear as a witness in a case.  What should I do?

If you have been subpoenaed in connection with your duties at the University, contact Office of General Counsel for further instructions.  If you have been subpoenaed in a matter unrelated to the University or a personal matter, you should consult your personal legal counsel.  If you are in need of personal legal counsel, you may want to contact the following lawyer referral service for assistance:  The West Virginia State Bar Lawyer Referral Service at http://www.wvlawyerreferral.org/.

I received a subpoena to turn over documents (subpoena duces tecum) or a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request for documents relating to University matters.  How should I respond?

You should not turn over any documents to anyone without first consulting with the Office of General Counsel.  You should forward a copy of the subpoena or FOIA request to the Office of General Counsel immediately.  One of our attorneys will work with you to gather responsive documents and take appropriate action with respect to the requested documents.

I received a bankruptcy notice where the University is listed as a creditor.  What should I do?

You should forward the notice to the Office of General Counsel.  Our office will investigate any potential claim and take appropriate legal action to protect the University’s interest in the bankruptcy matter.

I received a class action notice where the University is a potential claimant.  What should I do?

You should forward the notice to the Office of General Counsel.  Our office will investigate any potential claim and take appropriate legal action to protect the University’s interest in the matter.

What should I do if someone tries to serve me with legal documents?

Only the Office of General Counsel, the Special Assistant to the Board of Governors, or the Assistant Secretary of the WVU Board of Governors should accept service of legal process (such as a summons or complaint) on behalf of the University.  If a process server attempts to serve you with documents for the University, you should politely decline and direct him or her to the Office of General Counsel.  

If you are served documents that name you individually but in your official capacity with the University, you can accept service on your own behalf.  In such event, notify the Office of General Counsel immediately and forward the documents to our office.  You may wish to keep a copy for your records.  The Office of General Counsel will review the documents and contact you to discuss your further involvement.

If you are served with a subpoena or other legal document addressed to you concerning a non-University matter or a personal matter, you should seek the advice of your personal legal counsel.  If you are in need of personal legal counsel, you may want to contact the following lawyer referral service for assistance:  The West Virginia State Bar Lawyer Referral Service at http://www.wvlawyerreferral.org/.

I have been contacted by a law enforcement officer or enforcing agency about University matters.  What should I do?

When contacted by law enforcement officials, including the FBI, the police, or other governmental agencies seeking access to University records or requesting to interview University administrators, faculty, or staff members regarding University matters, you should politely inform the officer that the University will be pleased to assist them after contacting the University Police Department and the Office of General Counsel.  Importantly, during any interaction, you should always be respectful, polite, and cooperative.  

Request a copy of any subpoena or search warrant produced by the officer and contact the Office of General Counsel immediately for further instructions.  If you are unable to reach anyone at the Office of General Counsel and the University Police Department is not already present, contact it at 304-293-2677.  Additionally, you should also request identification and a business card in order to get the officer’s name, title, agency, and contact information.

If law enforcement is conducting a routine background investigation for a former employee or student and has an authorization for the release of information, you should ask for the investigator’s identification; make a note of the investigator’s name, title, and agency; inspect the authorization to determine whether it is accurate and complete; make a copy of the authorization; and, if there are no issues with the authorization, provide the requested information.  Should there be any concerns regarding the authorization, you can always reach out to the Office of General Counsel.

What should I do when a student’s parent, spouse, or another third party is requesting that I share a students’ records with them?

A student’s educational records are protected by the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act of 1974 (“FERPA”) and may only be shared under limited circumstances.  For more information about FERPA at WVU please visit http://ferpa.wvu.edu.  If you receive a request and are unsure whether the student has consented to the release of records (via the Parent/Guest Portal or a One Time Use Form), contact the Office of General Counsel.

What should I do if I believe that I am a victim of discrimination, harassment, sexual or domestic misconduct, stalking, or retaliation?

Contact the Title IX Coordinator at the Division of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion, Equity Assurance Office by calling 304-293-5600, send an email to titleIX@mail.wvu.edu, or file a complaint in person at:

1085 Van Voorhis Road Suite 250 
P.O. Box 6202 Morgantown, WV 26506-6202