Cover Photo Image

 I am a student. Can I obtain legal advice from your office?

Not unless the legal matter is related to issues arising from your employment or other relationship at JMU or a JMU-sponsored event or activity.

 I am an employee of the University. Can I obtain legal advice from your office?

If the legal matter is related to issues arising from your employment at JMU, this office and the office of the Virginia Attorney General may provide legal representation for you, but if it is a purely personal matter, we are unable to provide any advice or referral.

 My Department has been served with a lawsuit. What should I do?

Contact the Office of University Counsel immediately at 568-5242. By law, the University must respond to lawsuits within a specified time period after service. Accordingly, it is imperative that you notify us as soon as you are served so we can review the matter and respond in a timely manner.

 I've been personally named as a defendant in a lawsuit. I was only doing my job. Will the University defend me?

It is the policy of the Office of the Attorney General to defend state employees who become parties to legal proceedings by virtue of their good faith efforts to perform their responsibilities of employment. An employee personally named as a defendant in a lawsuit should contact our office immediately for more information.

 I've been served with a subpoena. What should I do?

Contact our office immediately.  A subpoena is an order of the court.  It may command you to appear at a specified date, time and location to testify, or a subpoena may command you to produce certain documents.  In either case, you should contact us immediately.  It is important to let us review the subpoena to determine the University’s rights and responsibilities for compliance.  Do not ignore a subpoena, even if it addresses something you are unfamiliar with, or asks for documents you don’t have. Failure to respond to a subpoena could result in you or the University being held in contempt of court.

 What do I do if I receive a litigation/preservation hold?

If you receive a litigation or preservation hold from the Office of University Counsel, it is because we believe you may have documents related to the matter identified in the hold.  Please read through the document carefully as failure to comply may have legal consequences.  If you have questions about your obligations under the hold, please contact the attorney who sent the preservation hold to you, or call the Office of University Counsel at 8-5242.

 I have been summoned to serve on a jury. I don’t want to serve, because I have too much work to do or will miss too many classes, and it will put me behind.

A jury summons is a legal order from a court, and you are obligated to respond to the summons.  If you fail to respond, the court may hold you in contempt.  If you explain your work or class situation, the court may excuse you from service for a specific summons, but JMU encourages its students and employees to fulfill their civic duty.  Unless there are unusual circumstances involved, your absence from work or class for this purpose should not result in any detriment to you, if you notify your supervisor or faculty members of the summons.

 What should I do if I receive a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request for documents?

If you receive a request for documents, data or other information maintained by the University, oral or written, and regardless of whether the request specifically cites FOIA, you should immediately contact University Communications and Marketing at 540-568-3621, and forward a copy of any written request to Do not delay in contacting that office after receiving a request.  The University has only five working days from receipt of the request to respond, so it is important to notify them immediately.  Do not begin searching for or copying documents before talking to them.  They will work with you to formulate the response to the request, and will advise you on the requirements of the law.

If you would like to request documents, data, or other information maintained by the University, please visit:

 I have been asked to sign a document as a representative of the University. Can I sign it?

You need specific authority to sign a contract that binds the University.  Contracts are called many things, and any document that purports to bind the Institution may be a contract.  Any signature that is not authorized may obligate you personally to the term of the contract (including any payment requirements), but will not obligate the institution.  The policy on signatories for contracts is Policy 4100:  The policy on signatories for contracts for student groups is Policy 4101:  If you are asked to sign any document to obligate the University or a portion of the Institution, you should contact this office for guidance.

 What laws govern James Madison University?

Federal and State laws apply to all Virginia public agencies, including JMU. 

 What are the policies of James Madison University?

JMU has adopted regulations, policies and procedures. Some of these are listed below. Others may be located by searching the JMU website:

Regulations are found at

The Manual of Policies & Procedures is found at

The Financial Procedures Manual is found at

Academic Affairs Policies are found at

The Faculty Handbook is found at

The Administrative and Professional Faculty Handbook is found at

The Staff Handbook is found at

The Student Handbook is found at

The Honor Code is found at

The catalogs are found at

Parking Regulations are found at

 What is the university’s policy on Public Expression on campus?

In accordance with Code of Virginia § 23.1-401.1. JMU has adopted Policy 1121, Public Expression on Campus, found here: This office posts an annual report on JMU’s compliance with the provisions of this law, which may be found on the Office of University Counsel Resources page.

Back to Top