Obtaining Legal Services
The Office of the Vice President and General Counsel (OGC) is responsible for representing U-M in all legal matters related to university operations involving U-M and its faculty and staff.
If your request for legal assistance originates from the University of Michigan Health System, please contact our Health System Legal Office at (734) 764-2178 during regular business hours. If you need to call after hours or on weekends or holidays, please contact University of Michigan Health System Paging and ask for the attorney on call.
Requests for all other legal assistance should be directed to (734) 764-0304 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Your matter will then be assigned to the appropriate OGC attorney or paralegal, who will then contact you directly. You may also directly contact the appropriate OGC attorney or paralegal who has expertise in the area relating to your matter.
The OGC does not represent faculty, staff, or students in personal legal matters outside the scope of their business as UM officials. For assistance on personal legal matters, please refer to:
- U-M Student Legal Services
- U-M Human Resources/Benefits–Legal Services Plan information
- Washtenaw County Bar Association Lawyer Referral and Information Service
- State Bar of Michigan Lawyer Referral Service
Process for selecting outside counsel
The General Counsel is responsible for determining the appropriate legal resources to be dedicated to all legal matters related to U-M operations. The OGC is responsible for deciding whether to retain an outside attorney for any particular legal matter. As the size and scope of U-M operations generate a substantial amount and variety of legal issues the OGC is required to supplement the attorney office staff by appointing outside counsel to represent U-M on various matters. The OGC utilizes outside counsel for the following reasons:
- The matter involves a specialized area of the law or expertise that is not possessed by attorneys on the OGC staff.
- The attorneys on staff cannot handle the matter given an extraordinary demand on office resources.
- The OGC determines that a conflict exists on a particular matter. (Example in-house attorneys cannot represent University and employee in the same matter due to a conflict.)
- The matter arises in another state or country.
Factors used in selecting particular attorneys or law firms
The selection of an outside attorney or law firm to represent U-M can be based on several factors, the weight of which will vary with the matter to be assigned.
- The expertise and resources of the attorney or law firm indicate that they can competently handle the matter to be assigned.
- The attorney or law firm is familiar with U-M and/or is familiar with the issues relating to representing a major research university and health system.
- The attorney or law firm has provided good service in other matters handled for U-M.
- The fees charged by the attorney or law firm are reasonable.
Administrative and financial controls
The OGC has the following administrative and financial controls in place to supervise the representation of outside counsel:
- The decision to assign a matter to outside counsel is subject to review and approval by the General Counsel.
- An OGC attorney is assigned to supervise each matter assigned to outside counsel. The staff attorney is responsible for reviewing and approving the legal strategy utilized in the assigned matter. The staff attorney is also responsible for reviewing and approving all legal fees submitted in each matter. The legal bills are subsequently reviewed by and approved by the Deputy General Counsel or General Counsel, or both.
- The budget for outside counsel is reviewed monthly.
- In some matters that generate a high volume, the OGC has negotiated flat fees for particular legal matters rather than an hourly rate. The flat fee improves budgeting predictability and encourages efficiency in the handling of legal matters.
- The OGC has established standard guidelines for outside counsel, which are included in each retention agreement.
- The OGC regularly reviews staffing levels against outside counsel fees to determine whether it is more cost efficient to hire staff or continue to pay outside counsel bills.