Office of the General Counsel
Request Legal Advice
So our attorneys may efficiently provide you with assistance, please visit our advice, guidance and counsel page and complete the Legal Advice Request Form.
Respond to Service of a Summons or Complaint
When a University officer or employee is served with a summons and complaint, a subpoena, a motion for a temporary restraining order or for a preliminary injunction, or any other document that appears to commence litigation against the University or an employee, prompt action is required to ensure that the interests of the University and its employees are protected.
As soon as you receive such documents, you should contact Cheryl Owens, our litigation paralegal, email@example.com, or (774) 455-7300.
If you on the Amherst campus, you should contact (413) 545-2204.
Respond to Chapter 258 Claims Letters
The Massachusetts Tort Claims Act, Chapter 258 of the Massachusetts General Laws, governs many claims against the Commonwealth, including the University.
Personal injury or property damage claims, including auto accident claims, are managed in conjunction with the University’s Risk Management office. The Risk Management office has an established process for claim investigations on each campus. If you receive a letter asking for damages due to loss or injury, or stating that the letter is sent in accordance with Chapter 258 of the General Laws, it should be forwarded to Kate Leahy J.D., Insurance Analyst, firstname.lastname@example.org, or (774) 455-7616.
The University carries general liability insurance which covers many of these claims. Information about insurance policies, claims management, releases, and settlements can be found on the Treasurer's Office General Insurance Information page.
After investigation, the Risk Management office will confer with our office to determine the potential liability for the University. Decisions on whether to settle claims will be made in consultation with each campus; settlements over $2500 require approval by the Attorney General’s office and will then be paid by the state Comptroller.
Request Use of Outside Counsel
If a campus has a matter that may require the services of outside legal counsel, it should contact the General Counsel, specifying the issues involved, the reasons why outside legal advice is being sought, the department or unit to be billed for such advice, and the proposed budget. Normally, the department or unit requesting or directly benefitting from the advice is responsible for providing funds for payment. The General Counsel will determine whether the matter may be handled more effectively by in-house attorneys or by outside counsel. The University has current retainer agreements with a number of law firms, and one of these firms may be available to handle your new matter.
If the General Counsel determines that additional outside counsel should be retained, the Office will generally solicit proposals from several appropriate firms (with campus input), and then negotiate rates to achieve the best value. We will then prepare an engagement letter which specifies the terms upon which such counsel will be retained, including the fee arrangement, the nature of the specific assignment, and the outside counsel’s reporting requirement to the General Counsel. This process can often be completed quite quickly.
Billings by outside counsel are to be sent directly to the General Counsel electronically, to the following dedicated email address: email@example.com. Upon approval, the General Counsel will forward them to the campus for payment.
Please be aware that outside legal advice is expensive and that the Board of Trustees requires all outside counsel to be selected, approved and supervised by the General Counsel. This is to ensure consistent, competent advice and to control costs. We are very careful about authorizing the use of outside counsel and monitoring monthly bills in order to meet these goals. The University will not pay outside attorneys unless they are engaged through this process.
Respond to Outside Attorneys
When you receive calls from private attorneys representing their clients in connection with matters involving the University, generally the easiest and best response for you is to say that the University is represented by the General Counsel’s Office. You should then provide them with the phone number for our office. Once a private attorney knows that the University is represented by counsel, he or she will deal directly with a University attorney. We will be in touch with you or whomever at the University can help us properly respond to the issues that may arise. If you know (or have a good idea) of what the attorney is calling about, we would appreciate a call from you immediately so we can be better informed when we receive the attorney’s call.
If a private attorney shows up unexpectedly at a meeting, you may wish to inform him or her that you were not expecting an attorney to be present, and that you wish to defer the meeting until you have had the opportunity to talk with the General Counsel’s Office.
If you receive a letter from a private attorney, forward the letter to us along with any background information on the issue it raises. We will be in touch with you and will draft or work with you in drafting an appropriate response. (For tort or negligence claims and Chapter 258 claims, visit the Treasurer’s Office General Insurance Information page.
The general rule is that an employee performing services for the University will be represented by counsel, and our office is available to respond to any communication from other attorneys.
The Trademark and Licensing Administration manages all University trademark or logo requests. Please contact Evelin Szymborn, Trademark & Licensing Coordinator at firstname.lastname@example.org.
The University System’s names, marks, logo and the reputation they represent are important assets. The Trademark and Licensing Administration’s primary role is to protect and promote the use of the University of Massachusetts System’s names, marks, and logos by ensuring that the public can properly identify and associate the names, marks and logos with officially licensed products and services bearing the institution’s indicia. These marks are the exclusive property of The University of Massachusetts. The Trustees’ Trademark Policy and Guidelines can be found here: Trademark Policy and Guidelines.
In addition to its substantial licensing activities, Trademark and Licensing Administration also monitors and regulates commercial, non-commercial and internal use of the marks and is responsible for the administration of Trademark and Service mark registrations in the United States and countries worldwide. The Board of Trustees’ guidelines establish the principals and procedures followed by Trademark and Licensing Administration to perform the following functions 1) Promote the University of Massachusetts in a consistent and uniform manner; 2) Protect all of the institutions trademarks, service marks, logos, names and symbols from unauthorized internal or external use, whether commercial or non-commercial. The Trademark and Licensing Administration actively polices the market and the Internet to protect against unauthorized or unlicensed use of the marks and to protect licenses from unfair competition; 3) Protect consumers from inferior products or services bearing the institutions marks; 4) Provide revenue to the University when licensing royalties and fees exceed program expenses. Regulation of all usage of the University of Massachusetts marks is essential to protect the University’s trademark rights and image from liability as well as to protect against dilution of the marks. University approval through the Trademark and Licensing Administration is required for all commercial use and some non-commercial use of the University marks, whether fundraising, sale for profit, advertising, or promotion, sponsorships. All University Agreements and Contracts that allow an external organization, company or individual to use the University’s names or marks as part of and/or in conjunction with that Agreement or Contract require a secondary Licensing Agreement issued by Licensing and Trademark to control the use of the marks and to protect the University from liability. This includes sponsorships, grants, promotions and Internet applications as well as all other agreements that allow for external use of the University marks or names. No party to a University agreement or contract may assign or sub-license the rights to use the University name or marks to a third party. Depending upon the consideration to be received by the University, additional royalties or fees may be waived. Unauthorized use (noncommercial or commercial) could effectively prevent the University from retaining and enforcing its rights in legal and commercial context.