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Welcome to the Office of Legal Affairs.

The Office of Legal Affairs manages and supervises all legal matters for the University, with the exception of certain research-related matters that are handled by attorneys within the University of Dayton Research Institute (UDRI).

Our attorneys strive to advance the mission of the University by providing timely, strategic and creative advice toward sound decision-making in all issues that face the University. This means that our attorneys work closely with University leadership, faculty, and staff who encounter projects or other issues with legal implications in the course of their work for the University.  The Office aims to be proactive rather than reactive, and seeks to provide preventative counsel and training in order to anticipate and minimize risks before they become financial, operational, strategic, or reputational issues for the University community.

Additionally, the Office may occasionally retain outside counsel to help serve specific legal needs of the University, and supervises such professional services.

If you have legal questions or concerns as a result as your role in the University community, please contact us using the information behind the "CONTACT US" green tab.  We also welcome suggestions regarding information or educational topics which could be addressed on this webpage.

The purpose of this webpage is to familiarize the University community with the services of the Office of Legal Affairs.  The content on this page is for informational purposes only and should not be construed as legal advice. 

FAQs

  1. Can the Office of Legal Affairs represent me in a personal matter??
  2. In my work for the University, I would like to enter into a contract that would bind the University.  Am I authorized to sign the contract?  Does a lawyer need to review the contract?
  3. What is the attorney-client privilege?
  4. What is “attorney work product?"
  5. I teach a course that includes fieldwork off-campus.  Should students sign any type of release before participating in off-campus activities like this?
  6. I want to use material that I believe may be copyrighted.  Can the Office of Legal Affairs let me know if I can use it?
  7. What is “electronic discovery?”
  8. What is a “litigation hold?”
  9. What do I do if I receive a request to be interviewed as part of an investigation or case, or I receive a request for documents?
  10. What do I do if I get served with a subpoena relative to my work for the University?
  11. What is “Affirmative Action?”
  12. What should I do if an attorney not representing the University contacts me and asks for information about the University?
  13. Can someone in the Office of Legal Affairs act as a notary for me? 
  14. I'm a student who was accused of a crime but the prosecutor decided not to press charges.  Yet I am still being charged through the University's student conduct system.  How?
  15. What exactly is "preponderance of evidence?"
  16. Can you explain my obligations or rights under FERPA?
    

     

1.  Can the Office of Legal Affairs represent me in a personal matter??

The Office of Legal Affairs does not represent individual faculty or staff members in personal legal matters outside the scope of their work for the University; that is, this office represents only the interests of the institution of the University of Dayton.   Additionally, this office does not provide personal legal services to students of the University.  If you are in need of personal legal representation, the Dayton Bar Association offers a lawyer referral service; you can contact them at 937.222.6102 or visit their website

2.  In my work for the University, I would like to enter into a contract that would bind the University.  Am I authorized to sign the contract?  Does a lawyer need to review the contract?

Only specific individuals are authorized to sign contracts, depending on the amount at stake, the scope of the contract and other issues.  While there are certain situations where legal review is not warranted, the Office of Legal Affairs encourages legal review in most cases. Please allow at least two weeks for the legal review, as the University attorneys want to give your contract the attention it's due yet still tend to the other needs of the University effectively. For more information, please contact Legal Affairs. 

3.  What is the attorney-client privilege?

The attorney-client privilege protects certain types of communications between the client and attorney as well as keeps those communications confidential.  The privilege applies to any communication that is:  (a) between an attorney and client; (b) for the purpose of soliciting or receiving legal advice, and (c) made in confidence and kept confidential.  The overall goal of the privilege is to allow a client to fully and freely disclose issues to his or her attorney (without fear of disclosure), so that the attorney in turn can provide effective advice and representation.  Ohio law does allow the attorney to disclose what would otherwise be confidential information in certain limited circumstances, such as when the attorney has the express written consent of the client.  Other exceptions include when the client is using the attorney’s services to commit fraud and also certain disputes regarding a deceased client.

4.  What is “attorney work product?"

“Attorney work product” consists of materials prepared in anticipation of litigation; such materials are protected from release during the discovery process in litigation, i.e., opposing counsel cannot obtain them.  That is, the materials are privileged.  A person other than the attorney (but acting under his or her direction) can prepare work product.  Materials covered under work product include statements, memoranda, briefs, notes of conversations and investigations, mental impressions, opinions, legal theories and certain analyses and other work to support those opinions and theories.

5.  I teach a course that includes activities off-campus.  Should students sign any type of release before participating in off-campus activities like this?

Yes, students should be required to sign a release before participating in any off-campus activity.  If you need help crafting an appropriate release form, please contact the Office of Legal Affairs.  Also be aware that any non-University entity that's part of that off-campus activity (for example, an outfit hosting an event or providing equipment) may have its own agreements that need to be signed, which may be designed to bind the students and/or the University.  The Office of Legal Affairs can assist you in reviewing and negotiating those agreements as well.

6.  I want to use material that I believe may be copyrighted.  Can the Office of Legal Affairs let me know if I can use it? 

Under the Copyright Act of 1976, the author of a creative work is granted the exclusive right to use the material.  “Fair use” is a limitation or exception to the author’s exclusive right where someone else can use the copyrighted materials without acquiring permission from the author – but whether a use is “fair” depends on a number of factors, including (1) the purpose and character of the use; (2) the nature of the copyrighted work; (3) the amount and substantiality of the portion used in relation to the copyrighted work; and (4) the effect of the use upon the potential market for or value of the copyrighted work.  While the Office of Legal Affairs can help you consider how each of these factors might apply to your proposed use, this office cannot declare a use to be “fair” – that is something only a federal judge can do.  When in doubt, permission from the lawful copyright owner should be sought.  For information about who owns the copyright for works created by University staff, faculty and/or students as part of their University employment or participation in a student organization, please refer to the University's Policy on Intellectual Property.  

7.  What is “electronic discovery?”

“Electronic discovery” or “e-Discovery” is information in electronic format that may be discoverable by the opposing party in litigation.  Often such information is referred to as “ESI,” or “electronically stored information.”  ESI includes email, documents, photos, video, databases, website content/blogs, telephone records/voicemail, text/instant message, other file types, and raw data.  

8.  What is a “litigation hold?”

When the Office of Legal Affairs is aware of threatened or actual litigation against the University, it typically will send out a “litigation hold” to individuals at the University who are suspected to have electronically-stored information or other documentation relevant to the litigation, to help ensure that such individuals do not inadvertently delete or otherwise destroy needed documentation.  This is because the University has an obligation to preserve relevant information when it learns, or reasonably should have learned, of pending or threatened litigation or a regulatory investigation.  If you are aware of threatened or actual litigation and are wondering about your obligations to preserve ESI or other documents, please contact the Office of Legal Affairs immediately. 

9.  What do I do if I receive a request to be interviewed as part of an investigation or case, or I receive a request for documents?

If you are contacted by a government agency, law enforcement official, outside attorney or other third party to be interviewed with respect to an investigation or lawsuit, or someone outside the University asks you for documents, please inform the requester that such efforts should be coordinated with the University’s Office of Legal Affairs.  If you receive such a request, please contact the Office of Legal Affairs. 

10.  What do I do if I get served with a subpoena relative to my work for the University?

Please refer any subpoena to the Office of Legal Affairs. 

11.  What is “Affirmative Action?”

The University of Dayton is a federal contractor and meets the criteria to be encompassed by affirmative action requirements, which, broadly speaking, are a set of policies for the benefit of an underrepresented group in areas of education, employment, and business.  As a covered entity, the University must affirmatively act to recruit and hire women, traditionally under-represented minority groups, persons with disabilities and veterans.  Affirmative action includes training programs, outreach efforts, and other affirmative/positive steps.  For more information, please reference the University's Affirmative Action Policy or visit the University's Affirmative Action webpage.  

12.  What should I do if an attorney not representing the University contacts me and asks for information about the University?

If you are contacted by an outside attorney in connection with University business or your work for the University, please notify the Office of Legal Affairs immediately.  Please do not speak or correspond directly with an attorney representing someone or threatening a claim or lawsuit against the University or against you in your official capacity for the University; such communications should be undertaken and/or overseen by the Office of Legal Affairs.  In cases where one of the University’s outside attorneys needs to contact you, someone in the Office of Legal Affairs will give you forewarning that such contact will happen (so that you will know you can talk with that attorney). 

13.  Can someone in the Office of Legal Affairs act as a notary for me? 

If you are a University employee and are in need of a notary in your business for the University (that is, as part of your UD job), yes, a notary in the Office of Legal Affairs can notarize your document(s).  Please call ahead to ensure a notary will be available when you wish to have your document(s) notarized.  Please note:  If you are in need of a notary for a personal reason -- such as because of a divorce, custody issues, a car or home purchase, etc. -- the Office of Legal Affairs would be glad to try to assist you on that front, but their obligations for the University must take precedence.  If a notary in the Office of Legal Affairs is not able to provide notary services on a personal matter as quickly as you would like, you may wish to check with your personal bank to see if its personnel can help you out on that front.

14.  I'm a student who was accused of a crime but the prosecutor decided not to press charges.  Yet I am still being charged through the University's student conduct system.  How?

The University's standards are not the same as criminal standards.  That is, the University's Code of Conduct might find certain behavior unbecoming to the University community that does not amount to a crime.  Plus, the University applies a different standard of proof (typically, a "preponderance of evidence" standard) rather than the criminal system's standard of proof (the "beyond a reasonable doubt" standard), meaning, generally, that the criminal system requires more exacting, conclusive evidence before a person can be found responsible.  The criminal system uses a tougher standard because the consequences faced by criminal defendants are so serious -- they risk losing their liberty (i.e., going to jail) if found guilty.

15.  What exactly is "preponderance of evidence?"

“Preponderance of evidence” is a standard of proof used in some internal University proceedings, such as Title IX investigations.  Practically speaking, what the standard means is:  “Is it more likely than not that what the complainant alleges to have happened actually happened?” If the decision-maker in a proceeding (whether a student conduct hearing board, investigatory team, etc.) determines it is more likely than not that the alleged event occurred, then the factual finding will be that the event did indeed happen.  Sometimes this is described as "50% plus a feather."  If the persuasive value of the evidence is so evenly balanced that the decision-maker is unable to say whether the alleged event occurred, then the factual finding will be that the event did not happen.   

A tougher standard is used in criminal prosecutions.  Specifically, if an offense were charged by the Montgomery County Prosecutor’s office, ultimate conviction would require a finding that it is “beyond a reasonable doubt” that the elements of the offense were indeed met.  Under Ohio law, “‘Reasonable doubt’ is present when the [decision-makers], after they have carefully considered and compared all the evidence, cannot say they are firmly convinced of the truth of the charge. . . . ‘Proof beyond a reasonable doubt’ is proof of such character that an ordinary person would be willing to rely and act upon it in the most important of the person's own affairs.”  O.R.C. § 2901.05.

16.  Can you explain my obligations or rights under FERPA?

FERPA, short for the "Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act of 1974," grants students certain rights with respect to their education records and, in turn, imposes on the University certain obligations in handling those records.  The University's Policy on Disclosure of Student Records -- also known as its FERPA policy -- sets forth the University's policy for complying with FERPA.  Also available on that FERPA Policy webpage are a Student Consent Form, Records Request Form (for non-students seeking access to education records) and other general information for how to comply with FERPA in day-to-day activities at the University.

We are Available to Help

Please do not hesitate to contact the Office of Legal Affairs for assistance in legal issues that arise in the course of the University's operations and fulfillment of its mission.  Please feel free also to contact Legal Affairs with any suggestions for how this website can become an even better source of information for the University.

    


    

Basic contact information:

    

Location:  

The Office of Legal Affairs is located in St. Mary's Hall, Room 400.

Mailing address:

University of Dayton, 300 College Park, Dayton, OH 45469-1660

Phone numbers:

(937) 229-4333; fax (937) 229-4545

Email address:

legalaffairs@udayton.edu

    


    

Attorneys

    

Mary Ann Poirier

General Counsel, 937-229-4333, mpoirier1@udayton.edu

  • Areas of primary responsibility:  Management of the Office of Legal Affairs and oversight of the University’s legal compliance and other legal strategies; corporate governance; contracts and business transactions; nondiscrimination/Title IX issues; FERPA and other privacy issues; policy development; real estate matters; Clery Act; institutional compliance; general legal matters. 

Lisa A. Sandner

Associate University Counsel, 937-229-4333, lsandner1@udayton.edu

  • Areas of primary responsibility:  University policy development; student affairs/student conduct; FERPA and other privacy issues; international travel issues; threat assessment; risk management; contracts and business transactions; institutional compliance.  Lisa chairs the University Policy Coordinating Committee and also serves on the University’s C.A.R.E. Team (threat assessment), International Response Team and Risk Management Team.

Patricia Bernal-Olson

Associate University Counsel/Affirmative Action Officer, 937-229-4333, pbernalolson1@udayton.edu

  • Areas of primary responsibility: Affirmative Action, disability issues, labor and employment law (including workers’ compensation and unemployment), human resources compliance, immigration, nondiscrimination/Title IX issues.

Mathew Willenbrink

Director of Technology Partnerships (time split with UDRI, Office of Technology Partnerships), 937-229-3469, mwillenbrink1@udayton.edu

  • Areas of primary responsibility: Intellectual property matters (patent, copyright, trademark, trade secrets); non-disclosure agreements; material transfer agreements; academic publications; licensing; corporate partnerships; start-up companies/entrepreneurship; general contract matters.  Matt also serves on the Advisory Board for the Program in Law and Technology at the University of Dayton School of Law.

Candise Powell

Licensing Associate (time split with UDRI, Office of Technology Partnerships), 937-229-3469, cpowell5@udayton.edu

  • Areas of primary responsibility: Intellectual property matters; non-disclosure agreements; general contract matters; employment issues; general legal matters.

Charlie Pruitt

Policy Coordinator Fellow, 937-229-4333, pruittc1@udayton.edu

  • As Policy Coordinator Fellow, Charlie assists in the project management of the University’s review of University-wide policies, which includes working with different University departments, researching and advising on regulatory requirements, researching best practices and managing the finalization of policies for broad dissemination.

    

Administrative Assistants

    

Karil This 

Administrative Assistant – Finance and Administrative Services (including the Office of Legal Affairs), 937-229-4333, kthis1@udayton.edu

Roberta Robinson

Administrative Assistant – Compliance and Affirmative Action, 937-229-4333, rrobinson1@udayton.edu