Law Firm Selection | Litigation Matters
The Board of Regents has delegated the authority to enter into contracts for legal services on behalf of UT System and UT institutions to the Vice Chancellor and General Counsel (Regents' Rules and Regulations, Rules 10501, Sec 5.4). Pursuant to this authority, OGC acts as the clearinghouse and coordination point for requests to the Office of the Attorney General to retain outside counsel, and is the liaison between UT institutions and the Attorney General’s office on all outside counsel arrangements.
The Attorney General is the constitutional attorney for the State of Texas and its agencies, including institutions of higher education. Texas Government Code §402.0212 authorizes the Attorney General to develop procedures for the use of outside counsel and determines the extent to which legal services can and should be provided by outside counsel. The Attorney General’s office must approve all requests to retain outside counsel and outside counsel contracts prior to legal services being performed, and has adopted administrative rules related to the retention and contracting of outside legal counsel. The rules can be found in Title 1, Chapter 57 of the Texas Administrative Code. Additionally, the Attorney General's office requires that law firms have malpractice insurance.
All requests to retain outside counsel must be approved by the Vice Chancellor and General Counsel prior to the request to retain being sent to the Attorney General’s office. Once approval from the Attorney General’s office is received, the outside counsel contract is prepared by OGC and sent to the law firm for signature.
Outside counsel contracts entered into on or after September 1, 2012 will expire August 31, 2015 (in order to bring the contract end dates in alignment with the State's fiscal biennium) and contain a limit on the amount of legal fees and expenses the law firm can invoice during the contract period. The UT institution or institution contract manager is responsible for providing a reasonable estimate of the fees and expenses.
UT System or UT institutions cannot sign an engagement letter with any potential outside counsel because such letters do not comply with applicable laws, rules, and procedures, and are not compatible with the Attorney General's outside counsel contract template.
For assistance in requesting outside counsel, please contact Beverly Hurst.
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UT System, on behalf of itself and the 15 UT institutions, publishes a Request for Qualification (RFQ) in the Texas State Business Daily (usually in May) for the various areas of law for which there is a possibility an institution would need the legal services of outside counsel. Law firms interested in performing legal services on behalf of UT System and/or a UT institution have at least 30 days in which to respond to the RFQ from the date of posting. The responses formulate a referral list for the institutions to choose outside counsel through the UT System Office of General Counsel if and when they need arises based on outside counsel’s demonstrated competence and qualifications to perform the legal services for a fair and reasonable price. The selection of and contracting with outside counsel is subject to the approval of the Office of the Attorney General. Inclusion of a law firm on the referral list does not guarantee that law firm an outside counsel contract.
Retention of Non-Responding Law Firms
The RFQ process requirements must be followed regardless of the anticipated maximum liability of the outside counsel contract, unless a specific exemption is granted by the Attorney General's office. The request to retain the non-responding law firm must include the reason an exemption to the RFQ process should be approved. Examples for an exemption include but are not limited to highly specialized or unique experience required, urgent time constraints on investigatory or litigation matters (see additional information regarding litigation matters below), experience not available through the Attorney General’s office, need for local counsel outside Texas, etc.
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Litigation to be instituted on behalf of the Board, System Administration, or an institution of UT System must have the prior approval of the Vice Chancellor and General Counsel. An existing outside counsel contract for specialized legal services do not authorize the filing of litigation, without additional approval. A separate outside counsel contract specific to the litigation must be processed through OGC and the Attorney General’s office before litigation can be instituted. To obtain approval from the Vice Chancellor and General Counsel, please submit a completed Litigation Approval Request Form.
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