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Legal Topics

Legal Advice & Representation

University Counsel does not provide legal advice or representation to students or employees regarding matters of a personal nature such as tenant-landlord disputes, civil or criminal issues, employment law, personal injury, DUI/traffic law, or divorce. Students and employees that need the services of a legal attorney may contact the Virginia Lawyer Referral Service toll-free at (800) 552-7977.

Subpoenas, Lawsuits, EEOC, and OCR

On matters relating to you in your official university capacity i.e. court papers of a lawsuit or subpoenas should be hand delivered by you the same day you receive them directly to the University Counsel's Office. Time is always of the essence with these kinds of documents.

Please direct all EEOC and OCR complaints to the Office of Institutional Equity and Diversity.

Conflict of Interests

A Conflict of Interest occurs when a faculty or staff member is involved in multiple interests, one of which could possibly corrupt the motivation for an act in the other. It is further defined as any situation where an individual or corporation albeit private or governmental is in a position to exploit a professional or official for their own personal or corporate gain.

Guidelines for managing a potential faculty conflict of interest can be found in the ODU Policy on COI.

The Conflict of Interest Act and Ethics in Public Contracting Training is provided to state officers and certain employees who are required to take the training via Internet Access. Click the "COIA Training" to access the COI course. Please follow the instructions carefully on the login page.


The Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) guarantees citizens of the Commonwealth and representatives of the media access to public records held by public bodies, public officials, and public employees.

The purpose of the FOIA policy is to promote an increased awareness by all persons of governmental activities. For more information about FOIA and your rights, see ODU's FOIA Policy.


The Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) is a federal law that guarantees an individual's right to access their academic records. The law also provides guidelines as to third party access and the appropriate security measures of the education record. FERPA stipulates the right that students have to inspect and review their academic record, control disclosure, and request amendment to the education record if an error is recorded.

For more information about FERPA, please see the University Registrar's page.

Intellectual Property

Intellectual Property refers to numerous distinctions related to the creation of the mind for which property rights and the laws that govern them are recognized. Common types of intellectual property include copyrights, trademarks, patents, industrial design rights, and trade secrets.

ODU's Policy on Intellectual Property governs ownership of intellectual properties created by university employees or through the use of university resources.

Documented Agreements

Please contact University Counsel regarding documented agreements i.e. MOU's and contracts. A representative from this office will provide guidance and assist with drafting these agreements. However, for General Procurement issues i.e. delegation of authority, please contact Harry Smithson, procurement operations manager at 683-5107.

Title IV

Please contact University Counsel should these issues involve athletic programming; otherwise, these issues generally involve gender discrimination complaints and should be referred to the Office of Instutional Equity and Diversity (EO/AA).

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