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Washington and Lee University

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Frequently Asked Questions


Access to the Office of General Counsel ("OGC")
Attorney-Client Privilege
Insurance Coverage/Defense for University-Related Lawsuits against Employees/Students
Insurance Coverage for Vehicle Use on University Business
Outside Attorneys, Government/Law Enforcement Inquiries, and Subpoenas
Political Activity by Employees
Reporting of Various University-Related Matters
Use of W&L Name, Logos or Marks

Note: OGC may expand these FAQ topics from time to time, as may be helpful to members of the W&L community.

Access to the Office of General Counsel ("OGC")

Whom does the Office of General Counsel represent?
A: Washington and Lee University's Office of General Counsel represents the legal interests of the university itself. In practice, this generally involves giving advice to the President, the Board of Trustees, the deans and members of the administration, student judicial bodies and faculty committees on legal risks associated with various university operations and programs, acting as a resource to administrators and committees in the development and interpretation of university policies, reviewing contracts to be signed on behalf of the university, and providing support to university administrators for ongoing compliance initiatives, among other things.

Can I obtain personal legal advice and services from the Office of General Counsel?
A: While we may be able to refer you to a local attorney, the attorneys of the Office of General Counsel do not provide personal legal services to university students or employees. Top

Attorney-Client Privilege

What is the "attorney-client privilege?"
A:The attorney client-privilege encourages full disclosure by protecting the confidentiality of communications between lawyers and their clients. Thus, written and oral communications that W&L faculty and staff have with OGC attorneys for the purpose of obtaining legal advice may be protected from disclosure to third parties in the course of a legal proceeding. Note that not all communications qualify for the attorney-client privilege: for example, the mere presence of an attorney at a meeting without the provision of legal advice is not sufficient. Furthermore, the privilege can be lost if the subject matter is discussed with anyone who does not need to know.

For examples of when the attorney-client privilege applies and doesn't apply and how to best protect communications with OGC, see the OGC attorney-client privilege primer (available at: Top


What do I do if I need to have a contract reviewed or prepared?
A: Contact any OGC attorney for assistance in drafting or reviewing a contract. For more information, see the university's Contracts Administration Policy (available at:

Can I sign this agreement (contract / letter agreement / lease / purchase agreement) that's on my desk?
A: Only a limited number of employees have been delegated the authority to sign contracts on behalf of the university. Consult the Delegation of Contracting Authority, part of the Contracts Administration Policy (available at:, for more information. Top

Insurance Coverage/Defense for University-Related Lawsuits against Employees/Students

Specific questions about insurance coverages and requirements should be directed to Stephanie Arbanas, Assistant Treasurer (x8121, A few common insurance questions are addressed below.

Will the university defend me if I am sued for my activities as a university employee?
A: As long as you were acting within the course and scope of your employment at and in the best interests of the university and with the agreement of our insurance carrier, the university has the discretion to provide a defense and coverage for you.

Are students covered by the university's liability insurance?
A: Yes, but only in instances where the student is authorized to act in an official university capacity (such as serving on an official university committee or carrying out other approved duties on behalf of the university). Top

Insurance Coverage for Vehicle Use on University Business

Are employees and students covered by the university's vehicle insurance when driving on university business?
A: When you are driving a university-owned vehicle or a rented vehicle on university business, the university's insurance will cover damages above the first $500 (which would be paid by the responsible department/program). The university's insurance does NOT provide coverage to you when you are driving a privately-owned vehicle, even if on university business. For more information and requirements for driving on university business, see the Vehicle Use Guidelines (available at: Top

Outside Attorneys, Government / Law Enforcement Inquiries and Subpoenas

What do I do if I am contacted by an outside attorney regarding a University matter?
A: All dealings with outside attorneys should be conducted through the OGC. If you are contacted by an attorney other than an OGC attorney, please refer him/her to the OGC. For government / law enforcement inquiries, subpoenas, etc., please consult the university's Protocol on Receipt of Official Legal Documents, Site Visits and Other Contacts From Investigatory or Regulatory Authorities and Attorneys (available at: and the accompanying one-page bullet-point summary. Top

Political Campaign Activity at W&L

Are there any restrictions on political campaign activities at W&L?
A: Yes. Internal Revenue Code Section 501(c)(3) requires, as a condition of W&L's tax exempt status, that W&L (through its employees) "not participate in, or intervene in (including the publishing or distributing of statements), any political campaign on behalf of (or in opposition to) any candidate for public office." This prohibition is absolute, and includes use of any university property (e.g., computers, telephones, or staff support), as well as distribution of statements prepared by others that favor or oppose any candidate for public office. In addition to loss of tax-exempt status, the University runs the risk of having excises taxes imposed on both on the University and its responsible managers, as well as the risk of federal or state government lawsuits, audits, and investigations.

In order to ensure that participation in political activity by a member of our community is not attributable to the institution, it is imperative that no institutional resources be made available to political candidates. Top

Reporting of Various University-Related Matters

How do I report . . .?
A: Accident/Incident on Campus (not employee workplace injury) (available at:
Accident on Campus (employee workplace injury) (available at:
Breach of Confidential Information (available at:
Discrimination, Harassment, Sexual Misconduct, or Retaliation (available at:
Fraudulent or Dishonest Conduct or other Violations of Law (available at: wReporting Top

Use of W&L Name, Logos, or Marks

When may I use the W&L name or any of its logos or marks?
A: Faculty, staff, and students may use the University's names, logos, and/or other marks (e.g. W&L, the W&L crest) as needed to identify themselves on matters related to University business (including matters related to employment at the University). Use of the University name for any other private purpose is limited to use for identification by a current or former member of the faculty, staff, and/or student body (e.g. "John Doe, Professor of Physics, Washington and Lee University," or "John Doe, Class of '79, W&L"). W&L names, logos, and other marks shall not be used by individuals or entities otherwise in a manner that implies University endorsement or responsibility for particular activities, products, or publications involved, or by any individual or group promoting itself, without the express written permission of the Provost or designee. Any and all use of the University names, logos, and/or other marks for commercial purposes is prohibited unless approved by the Treasurer or designee. Top