University employees may not retain private attorneys to provide advice, counsel, or representation regarding University matters. The Vice President for Legal Affairs is responsible for determining the appropriate legal resources for all University-related matters and will decide if an outside attorney should be retained for any particular legal matter. If outside counsel is approved, the requesting department must have funds in its budget available for the payment of legal fees.
Once it is determined outside counsel is appropriate, our office will work with the UT System Vice Chancellor and General Counsel to request and retain outside counsel through the Office of the Attorney General (OAG). As the constitutional attorney for the State of Texas and its agencies including institutions of higher education, the OAG must approve all requests to retain outside counsel and outside counsel contracts before legal services are performed. The OAG has adopted administrative rules related to outside counsel contracts, including invoicing for legal services and expenses and the payment to the OAG of an administrative fee for the review and approval of outside counsel invoices. Because law firm engagement letters do not comply with applicable laws, rules, and procedures, the University cannot sign an engagement letter.
RFQ for Outside Counsel
Every odd year, the UT System, on behalf of itself and the UT institutions, will publish 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 the UT System or a UT institution would need outside counsel legal services. Law firms have 30 days from the date of posting of the RFQ to submit its response electronically. The responses formulate a referral list for UT institutions to choose outside counsel, if the need arises, based on the outside counsel's demonstrated competence and qualifications to perform the legal services for a fair and reasonable price. Inclusion of a law firm on the referral list does not guarantee that law firm an outside counsel contract.