WHAT WE DO
The University of the Pacific Office of the General Counsel supports the mission and values of the University through strategic, knowledgeable, just, and timely legal guidance.
Be a strategic and innovative thought partner to get clients’ projects over the finish line.
Anticipate and address legal and compliance issues.
Respond promptly and clearly.
Advise on legal risk and wherever possible offer ways to get to “yes.”
Engage excellent and diverse outside counsel to support the legal mission.
Never let the law circumvent common sense or doing the right thing.
Steward the university’s financial and environmental resources in a responsible manner.
All members of the Pacific community are encouraged to identify university-based legal issues that might benefit from OGC consultation. Faculty bring legal matters forward through their Dean or Provost; staff through their Vice President; and students through the Vice President for Student Life.
Contract review begins with Procurement.
Insurance questions begin with Risk Management.
(NOTE: OGC acts as legal counsel for the university and offers advice and representation on university matters only. OGC does not provide advice to community members on individual legal matters, including matters when an individual is under university investigation or has filed a grievance against the university.)
WHO WE ARE
The Office of the General Counsel is led by Chief General Counsel Lauren Schoenthaler, a member of the President’s Cabinet.
THE ATTORNEY CLIENT PRIVILEGE
The attorney-client privilege preserves the confidentiality of communications between lawyers and their clients when the communication is made for the purpose of seeking legal advice. Communications that Pacific faculty and staff have with OGC or Pacific-retained outside counsel, in confidence, for the purpose of seeking legal advice on university matters, are protected by the attorney-client privilege from disclosure to opposing parties. Such communications are privileged whether they are oral or written.
A memorandum from one administrator to another concerning a legal matter typically is not privileged. For the privilege to exist, the communication must be to, from, or with an attorney, or drafted at the direction of an attorney. In addition, the communication must be for the purpose of requesting or receiving legal advice.
Example: An unhappy fan from an opposing team threatens to sue the University for a sprained wrist trying to catch a fly ball. An employee witness writes a memorandum to Pacific’s OGC requesting legal advice. He also sends a copy of his memorandum to the University Director of Risk Management. Both copies of the memorandum are privileged; the first as an attorney-client communication and the second because he is sharing a privileged communication with a university official with a need to know about the threatened lawsuit by virtue of her responsibility to the University. If, however, the witness employee writes a separate letter to the Director of Risk Management concerning the fan’s allegations, this separate letter is not privileged and would be subject to disclosure in a lawsuit.
Communications must be kept confidential for the privilege to apply. If the substance of attorney-client communications is disclosed to persons outside the University – or even to persons within the University who are not directly involved in the matter – the privilege may be lost. Faculty and staff who are directed to keep a matter confidential as a privileged communication must do so.
All written communications (including e-mail) from faculty and staff to attorneys concerning legal matters should be marked “Privileged and Confidential” by the sender. While this marking is not essential to bring the communication within the attorney-client privilege, it can help to protect the communication from compelled disclosure in litigation.