Office of Legal Affairs

Frequently Asked Questions

Working with Us

Southern Utah University is our one client. Any University administrator or employee who is acting on behalf of the University is our client. Sometimes “who is acting on behalf of the University” can shift in a matter, so we always have to ask ourselves who is the decision maker(s) acting on behalf of the University at any given time and stage of a matter.

We cannot give legal advice for personal matters, whether for employees or students. You may consult with an attorney of your choosing.  You may also utilize the Utah State Bar to find an attorney at the following website:  https://www.utahbar.org/public-services/

University administrators, deans, and department or unit heads are generally the appropriate persons to ask our office for legal advice. In addition, generally speaking, deans or unit administrators are in the best position to know when the unit should seek legal counsel. Program coordinators and others also may contact our office directly, for example, with questions about waivers, affiliation agreements, internships, and the like.

If you would like to contact our office with a question or to schedule a meeting, please direct inquiries to our office staff at legal@suu.edu or (435) 586-7738. Please provide necessary background information such as the contract, policy, communication, or type of situation about which you are inquiring. This helps us to determine the best and most efficient way to handle your question, including which attorney should be involved. This helps us provide a timely and efficient response and appropriate follow-up.

Our paralegal may communicate with you directly. The paralegal is trained in and bound by the same rules of confidentiality as the attorneys. The paralegal can often help you locate the policy, office, document or other resource that can answer your question (but they cannot give legal advice).

If you have already discussed the matter with a particular attorney, or if you have a reason for addressing your question to a particular attorney, you may contact that specific attorney through our office staff as described above, or you may contact the attorney directly if you prefer.

The SUU Office of Legal Affairs supports the University by providing legal advice to foster sound decision-making in all areas of operation, instruction, research and administration. We provide, manage and coordinate a full range of quality legal services to employees acting on behalf of the University—including legal counsel and representation, legal risk management, policy review, defending against administrative complaints and lawsuits, contract and waiver drafting and review, and compliance advice. In doing so, we aim to help client representatives accomplish their goals in sound, sustainable ways. The majority of our work is proactive and we welcome the opportunity to help at all stages of ideas and matters.

Contact from External Persons on Legal Matters

Contact the Office of Legal Affairs at 435-586-7738 or legal@suu.edu immediately and provide us with a copy of the document. Do not contact or discuss the document with the person who issued it until you have received guidance from our office. Note: Our office cannot provide advice and assistance regarding such documents if they are unrelated to University business or your employment with the University.

Refer the attorney to the Office of Legal Affairs and contact us immediately at 435-586-7738 or legal@suu.edu. Do not discuss the matter with the attorney.

Contracts: General Concepts

A contract is an agreement between two or more persons or entities that creates one or more duties to do or not do something. It can have many different names other than “contract.” A contract might be called a memorandum of understanding (MOU), memorandum of agreement (MOA), purchasing agreement, services contract, lease, invoice with terms, request for proposal attached to an agreement, offer letter, guarantee, terms of service, terms and conditions, terms of use, license, grant, research agreement, commitment, settlement, binding promise, and so on. Contracts can be written or verbal and made in hard copy or electronically (sometimes by a simple click of the mouse and/or check of a box). 

Sometimes parties want to document their current intentions to collaborate, but do not intend to bind themselves. The appropriate document for this is to create a non-binding statement of intentions. Sometimes these are labeled as MOAs or MOUs--but whether or not they are contracts will depend on the wording of the document.

A University contract is a written agreement (which may go by a variety of names) where the University and one or more parties agree to certain obligations. All University contracts must be in writing. Documenting obligations helps enhance clarity down the road.

Generally, submit all University contracts to the Office of Legal Affairs for review. There are two exceptions:

  1. if a contract (by any name) is on a template previously approved by the Office of Legal Affairs;
  2. the contract is a renewal of a contract previously reviewed by OLA and does not have any substantive changes.

Prior to sending it for legal review, please complete a business-based review (can you comply with and accept the terms from a business standpoint). Please also submit the contract for review with applicable departments, such as Purchasing for goods and services, IT Department for software and other IT-related contracts, and to Risk Management for contracts with or without insurance terms, indemnification, liability limits or waivers. Once complete, unless one of the other units has submitted the contract for legal review, please email the contract (including all attachments and incorporated terms) in PDF form to legal@suu.edu.

Contracts: When and how to use them

Colleges, departments, and centers are not legal entities and have no standing to enter into contracts. Rather, these groups are divisions of Southern Utah University. Southern Utah University should be the named party in all University contracts. If you prefer that a contract specify a particular department or operating unit, the party name can go further to specify: “Southern Utah University, a body politic and corporate of the state of Utah, on behalf of its [name of department/unit].”
A contract is necessary when you wish to bind another party to do something for SUU or when another party wishes to bind SUU to do something. If you are not sure if you need a contract, contact your department’s Supervisor and/or the Purchasing Director, or the Office of Legal Affairs to discuss. Please note, purchase orders should not be used in lieu of contracts, particularly where they include terms and conditions--they still must go through appropriate reviews.
Please refer to SUU Policy 5.24 Purchasing. No University employee or student may legally bind the University without prior approval of the Purchasing Office. If authorized, such goods/services may be purchased through the Purchasing Card Program, Purchase Orders, or the RFP processes.

It depends on what type of contract you need. The following is a summary of SUU's primary contracting units and the types of contracts with which they work:

If you have questions or do not see the type of contract that you need in the above list, contact your department’s business officer to get going in the right direction. The Office of Legal Affairs also has templates available for certain contracting situations and can provide advice to help you get started--please feel free to reach out to our Office.

Record Request

The Government Records Access and Management Act (GRAMA) allows the public easy access to unrestricted public records. More information regarding Utah GRAMA Laws can be found in Utah Code Chapter 63G-2. If you would like to access records maintained by Southern Utah University, please fill out the GRAMA Request Form.
Students often may view and obtain copies of her/his academic record through the Office of the Vice President for Student Affairs. The process for obtaining records can be found at the following website: https://help.suu.edu/uploads/attachments/PP522Data.pdf
Employees often may view and obtain copies of her/his personnel file. Please contact your supervisor or Human Resources at 435-865-8572. For employees of Southern Utah University, please contact Human Resources at 435-865-8320, located in Room 106 of the Bennion Building.
It is sometimes unclear how long one must store records, and what can be deleted or thrown away. Routine University retention and destruction practices should be followed unless a litigation hold applies to the records in question. If a litigation hold is in place, you will be notified of the hold and receive instructions from the Office of Legal Affairs. For more information, please see Policy 5.53
If you receive a subpoena, it should be forwarded to the Office of Legal Affairs. Subpoenas impose deadlines for compliance and so it is important to get subpoenas to the appropriate University office as soon as possible.
Do not accept it. The only authorized agent for service of a summons and complaint against Southern Utah University is the President of the University. No one else should accept service on behalf of SUU.

Additional Information

Please review Southern Utah University's Minors on Campus Policy. Please also contact the Risk Management Executive Director for assistance with minor children supervision in University programs, such as background checks, conduct guidelines for participants, and trainings. Visit the Guidelines for Programs Involving Minors for more information. You can contact the Executive Director of Enterprise Risk Management, Mike Humes at humes@suu.edu. You also are welcome to contact the Office of Legal Affairs directly with any questions about unique aspects of your program for which legal advice is needed at legal@suu.edu.

In general, electronic signatures are legally binding. Utah law states: “If a law requires a record to be in writing, an electronic record satisfies the law;” and “If a law requires a signature, an electronic signature satisfies the law.” Utah Code Ann. § 46-4-201(3) and (4). If an electronic signature was an act of the correct person, (ii) all parties agree to conduct their transactions electronically, and (iii) is not prohibited by a specific governmental agency’s rules, then the electronic signature likely will be valid and enforceable.