Frequently Asked Questions

What should I do if a deputy, constable, process server, or an individual from a law firm comes to my office and asks me to accept legal papers (such as a citation or subpoena) on behalf of the University or someone with whom I work?

Do not sign for the acceptance of these documents. Instead, direct the individual to the Office of the General Counsel at 360 Allen Center. Immediately notify the Office of the General Counsel at ext. 5237 that you have directed a person who will be serving Rice with legal documents.

You may sometimes receive a summons or subpoena by mail or fax, or you may mistakenly accept one from a process server. If so, please contact the Office of the General Counsel immediately. Please be aware that these documents are time sensitive, and to postpone or delay responding to these documents could seriously impact Rice University with legal consequences. Also, the content of these documents are not to be discussed, except with your immediate supervisor, especially if they are grand jury subpoenas or subpoenas issued in a criminal matter.

Who can accept service of process on behalf of Rice University?

If the service is upon Rice University, service of process may be accepted by an attorney in the Office of the General Counsel, provided the service is properly made. However, if the service is for a Rice employee or student on a personal matter (e.g., divorce, car accident lawsuit, etc.), the employee or student must be served personally. When someone is seeking to serve an employee or student on campus on a personal matter, the process server should be referred to RUPD.

What should I do if a government investigator comes to my office to seek information about an individual?

You should contact the Office of the General Counsel immediately and prior to responding. Our office will work with you to provide an appropriate response to any such query, including verifying the investigator’s credentials and reviewing the request for information. For some offices that have frequent contact with government investigators (such as the Office of International Students and Scholars), we have worked with that office on proper protocols on responding to governmental queries.

Please note that under FERPA, educational record information about students generally may not be given out without the student’s consent. Do not respond to any request for student records without speaking to the Office of the General Counsel.

What should I do if I receive correspondence from an attorney asserting a claim against me (as an agent for Rice University), my department, or Rice University?

You should immediately deliver or fax all legal correspondence to the Office of the General Counsel at 360 Allen Center, Fax: 713-348-5465. If sending via fax, the original document is to be delivered to the Office of the General Counsel at the first opportunity.

What protections are available to me as a Rice student, employee, or volunteer, or committee member against liability that might arise from my performance of activities on behalf of Rice?

Please refer to the Risk Management link at http://riskmanagement.rice.edu.

May I hire outside counsel for a Rice matter?

Only the Vice President and General Counsel may retain outside counsel for legal services pertaining to Rice University. The Vice President and General Counsel may engage outside counsel in situations where expertise on a particular matter is needed or in complex litigation matters. Outside counsel may also be retained when representation by the Office of the General Counsel presents a conflict and other circumstances make the retention appropriate.

If outside counsel is hired on my behalf, will Rice pay for the legal bills?

Rice will pay the reasonable legal bills and expenses of outside counsel to represent faculty or staff regarding a Rice matter, if the Vice President and General Counsel determines that such representation is appropriate.

What should I do if I receive a request for a student’s educational records?

By law, student records are private. The confidentiality of student records is governed by the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) and Rice policy. You may not respond to any request for student records without first speaking to the Registrar's Office or the Office of the General Counsel. For basic information about FERPA, see https://registrar.rice.edu/students/ferpa.

How do I obtain a Participation Agreement/Release from Liability form?

See the Forms link on this website.

What are the office hours for the Office of the General Counsel?

The hours of operation for the Office of the General Counsel are from 8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m., Monday through Friday, on days the University is open.

What is the Attorney/Client Privilege? Are my conversations with members of the Office of the General Counsel confidential?

The Attorney/Client Privilege is a legal doctrine that protects confidential communications between the attorney and the client (Rice) that are for the purpose of obtaining legal advice. All such communications between the attorney and the client must be kept confidential. This privilege facilitates candid communication between the attorney and the client in order to facilitate legal advice and representation. Since the University is the client, the privilege applies only to communications between attorneys for Rice and individuals on Rice-related matters, not personal matters. If you have a question about whether the privilege may apply in a given situation, please contact one of the attorneys.

How can I get assistance with a contract?

For assistance with contracts, you may contact Joe Davidson or Veta Byrd-Pérez in the Office of the General Counsel.

I am negotiating a contract on behalf of the University. Should I have the Office of the General Counsel review it?

See University Policy No. 810. As a matter of course, all contracts should be reviewed by the Office of the General Counsel. Certain contracts must be reviewed by the Office of the General Counsel. Before forwarding the contract to the Office of the General Counsel for review, you should first read the contract and note any terms or conditions with which you take issue or have a concern. Rice can then seek to modify the terms of the contract before it is signed. Watch out for clauses in which Rice is asked to indemnify the other party, or that contain liability limitations, or have restrictions that may be unfavorable to Rice. If you have specific questions about certain terms or clauses or for more information, please contact the Office of the General Counsel at 713- 348-5237.

Who can sign a contract on behalf of Rice University?

Anyone who signs a contract on behalf of Rice must have written Signature Authority under University Policy 810. Prudence dictates that the signature authority be exercised only after the contract has been reviewed by the Office of the General Counsel and the appropriate officers, faculty, staff or other persons with a role in the matter have been consulted. Please refer to University Policy 810 for guidance.

What is the process to obtain a Power of Attorney for the import or export of materials or equipment?

If you are importing into the United States, you may contact the Office of Purchasing or the Office of the General Counsel for assistance with powers of attorney. For exports, please refer to the Office of Sponsored Projects and Research Compliance (SPARC).

To whom should I report concerns about possible illegal, unethical or fraudulent activity?

Under Rice’s Standards of Ethical Conduct, there are multiple avenues for individuals to come forward with concerns about possible wrongdoing or unethical conduct. If feasible, an employee should speak with his or her immediate supervisor, but if the employee is uncomfortable speaking with the supervisor, please see the link above, which lists other avenues through which an individual may raise concerns.

How can I get a document notarized?

Rice has several notaries for members of the University throughout the campus. To schedule an appointment to have a document notarized, contact a notary listed here.

What should I do if I receive a Notice of Garnishment?

If Rice receives a Notice of Garnishment from a Texas court, Rice is ordered to withhold a certain amount of an employee’s wages to be paid toward a debt owed by the employee. Typically, a Notice of Garnishment may be issued in connection with child support payments, or IRS tax levies. Fax the Notice to the Office of the General Counsel. The Office of the General Counsel will work with the Payroll Department to comply with the order and to make sure the employee is notified.

Can the Office of the General Counsel find me a personal lawyer?

The Office of the General Counsel does not obtain personal attorneys for faculty, staff or student.

How can I get assistance with personal legal problems such as issues with my landlord, divorce, etc.?

For personal legal representation and services consult with your personal attorney. The Office of the General Counsel at Rice University represents and renders legal services solely to Rice University.

Where do I get permission to film or photograph on campus?

You should contact the Director of University Relations in Public Affairs at 713-348-6782 to request permission to film or photograph events at certain areas of Rice University.

How do I get permission to use the Rice name and/or logo (i.e. in connection with any commercial activity, press release, announcement, book, article, or other outside venture)?

You should contact the Office of Public Affairs, which is charged with the responsibility for protecting the university’s name, identity assets and reputation, at 713-348-6280 or pubaffrs@rice.edu.

What if I want to include the name of a company or a link to a company’s website on a Rice website?

You should contact the Office of Public Affairs at 713-348-6280 or pubaffrs@rice.edu.

Who would I contact to get permission to use Rice’s trademarks on collegiate goods (e.g., hats, t-shirts, cups, etc.)?

You should contact the Rice Athletics Sales & Marketing Office at 713-348-2328.

What should I do if I receive a Digital Millenium Copyright Act (DMCA) notice from Rice?

As required by federal law, Rice notifies students or others using Rice’s computer system that copyright infringement or unauthorized distribution of copyright material – including copying or downloading materials without authorization of copyright owners and unauthorized peer-to-peer file sharing – may violate civil and criminal laws, subjecting violators to civil and criminal penalties. If you receive a DMCA notice, follow the instructions in the notice. You may contact the Office of the General Counsel at 713-348-5237 for more information. Please also refer to Policy 832 and VPIT: Digital Copyright Compliance.

What should I do if a company asks me to sign a confidentiality agreement?

If you have been asked to sign a nondisclosure or confidentiality agreement, you should contact the Office of the General Counsel. However, you should contact the Office of Sponsored Projects and Research Compliance if the nondisclosure agreement is in connection with Rice research. For nondisclosure agreements relating to a Rice invention, you should contact the Office of Technology Transfer. For nondisclosure agreements for personal matters unrelated to your University work, you should contact your personal attorney. One should be sure, however, that any such confidentiality agreements do not conflict with one’s University’s responsibilities.

Where can I get more information about traveling on Rice University business?

Contact Rice’s Director of Risk Management, Renee Block, at 713-348-4751 for insurance issues. Contact the Office of the General Counsel for travel release forms for students and faculty.

Location:
Office of the General Counsel
P.O. Box 1892, MS-94
Houston, TX 77251-1892

Physical deliveries:
Office of the General Counsel
360 Allen Center
6100 Main St.
Houston, TX 77005

Phone/Fax Numbers:
Phone: 713-348-5237
Fax: 713-348-5464