Duquesne’s Office of Legal Affairs serves as legal counsel for Duquesne University of the Holy Spirit, its Board of Directors, officers, colleges, and academic and administrative departments, and is responsible for addressing all of the legal issues arising from Duquesne’s activities. The Office endeavors to render timely and thoughtful legal advice on the broad range of issues that the university's faculty, staff and administrators confront on behalf of Duquesne in furtherance of its mission. 

The Office provides legal advice to members of the Duquesne community solely within the context of the course and scope of their employment with, or as authorized agents or representatives of, the University.  The Office does not provide legal advice or representation to individual members of the University community with respect to personal matters or personal legal issues.

The Office is also responsible for engaging the services of outside law firms for specialized legal needs, and for coordinating and supervising their work.

This website is designed to familiarize Duquesne community members with Office staff and the services they provide. Please do not hesitate to contact us at legalFREEDUQUESNE if you require further information or need assistance with a University legal matter.

Please note that the materials presented on this website are provided as a service for the benefit of the University community. Nothing contained on this website may be construed as legal advice. Legal advice must be tailored to the specific facts and circumstances involved in a situation, so it is essential to consult counsel directly, rather than relying upon general information.


Attorney Client Privilege

The attorney-client privilege preserves the confidentiality of communications between lawyers and their clients.  The privilege protects individuals and institutions.  Communications may be privileged whether they are oral, written or electronic.

A memorandum from one administrator to another concerning a legal matter typically is not privileged.  For the privilege to exist, the communication must be to, from, or with an attorney.  In addition, the communication must be for the purpose of requesting or receiving legal advice.

Communications must be kept confidential for the privilege to apply.  If the substance of attorney-client communication is disclosed to persons outside the University - or even to persons within the University who are not directly involved tin the matter - the privilege may be destroyed.  Therefore, before forwarding an email from an attorney that contains legal advice, please consult with the attorney in advance.

Determining when the attorney-client privilege applies, and when it does not, to communications made for the purpose of seeking legal advice from the University Legal Counsel can be complicated. To protect the best interests of the University, University personnel should consult the University’s Office of Legal Affairs on how to handle a particular situation.

More information about attorney-client privilege can be found in TAP 64 and Statement on Investigations.


No, all University contracts must be signed by the President, Provost, or Senior Vice President for Finance and Business.  All University contracts with a fiscal component must be signed by the Senior Vice President for Finance and Business.

All contracts must be reviewed by University legal counsel unless the contract is based entirely upon an unmodified template approved by the Office of General Counsel.

Review the business terms of the contract to ensure it is an accurate reflection of the contemplated transaction.  If so, the contract should be uploaded to the University’s contract management software, iContracts, for legal review, approval and signature. For questions about iContracts, contact Purchasing at purchasing@duq.edu.


Copyright protects original works of authorship fixed in any tangible medium of expression, including: literary and musical works; dramatic works; pictorial, graphic, and sculptural works; motion pictures; and sound recordings.

Yes, generally you need to obtain a license (express written permission) to use a third-party’s copyrighted material.  There are three major exceptions to this rule: (1) the face-to-face instruction exception; (2) the online instruction exceptions (also known as the TEACH Act); and (3) the fair use exception. (See questions 3-5.)

Section 110(1) of the Copyright Act allows instructors and students to perform or display a copyrighted work without seeking permission of the copyright owner, in the course of face-to-face teaching activities at a nonprofit educational institution in a classroom or similar place devoted to instruction.  This means you can show a full-length movie, play a full recording of a song, or show any image without a license as long as it's within the classroom.  However, 110(1) does not allow for the making of copies of copyrighted works in the classroom.

If you have any questions or concerns, contact legal@duq.edu.

The TEACH Act addresses the needs of distance education and the performance or display of works in an online environment.  To fall within the “online instruction” exception under the TEACH Act, the following requirements must generally be met:

  • performance/display of work must be part of mediated instructional activities and integral to course goals;
  • portion of work used must be equal to that which would be used in a physical classroom session;
  • access to the work must be limited to students enrolled in the course;
  • students must be instructed that further distribution of the work violates copyright law;
  • the work must not be available to or retained by students beyond class session; and
  • copy of the work used must be legally made and obtained.

The TEACH Act allows:

  • performances of nondramatic literary and musical works (including the entire work);
  • performances of any other work including dramatic and audiovisual works (e.g. film clips) but only in limited portions; and
  • displays of any work consistent with those typically made in a live classroom setting (e.g. poems, essays, images of pictorial or graphic works).

The TEACH Act does not allow:

  • use of works developed and marketed specifically for distance education, course management systems or online educational uses;
  • posting of full-text materials on course pages; or
  • any use of a work that would substitute for students purchasing the work for their own study. Below is an example copyright statement, which we recommend including in every online course:

“Materials used in connection with this course may be subject to copyright protection.  Materials may include, but are not limited to: documents, slides, images, audio, and video.  Materials in this course Web site are only for the use of students enrolled in this course, for purposes associated with this course, and may not be retained for longer than the class term.  Unauthorized retention, duplication, distribution, or modification of copyrighted materials is strictly prohibited by law.”

Content adapted from: http://www.lib.pacificu.edu/copyright-teach-act/ and


If you have any questions or concerns, contact legal@duq.edu.

Fair use allows certain uses of copyrighted material without permission from the copyright holder.  There are four factors to consider when determining whether your use is a fair one. You must consider all the factors, but not all the factors have to favor fair use for the use to be fair. The four fair use factors are:

  • the purpose and character of the use, including whether such use is of a commercial nature or is for nonprofit educational purposes;
  • the nature of the copyrighted work;
  • the amount and substantiality of the portion used in relation to the copyrighted work as a whole; and
  • the effect of the use upon the potential market for or value of the copyrighted work.

Fair use favors purposes such as criticism, comment, news reporting, teaching, scholarship, and research. While many uses for educational purposes are fair, not all are. You need to evaluate your use each time you are reproducing copyrighted material.

If you have any questions or concerns, contact legal@duq.edu.


The Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (“FERPA”) is a federal law that protects the privacy of student education records.  Under FERPA, students have the right to inspect and review their education records, the right to seek to have the records corrected, and the right (with some exceptions) to control the disclosure of personally identifiable information from their education records.  With limited exceptions, FERPA prohibits the release of personally identifiable information from a student’s education record without the student’s consent.  Schools must notify students annually of their rights under FERPA.  Duquesne provides this information here: https://www.duq.edu/academics/university-registrar/ferpa.php.

Education records are records, files, documents, and other materials which contain information directly related to a student and which are maintained by a school or a party acting on behalf of the school.  Law enforcement unit investigating records and other similar records are not generally considered to be education records. 

Students have the right to inspect and review their education record within 45 days of their request.

Personally-identifiable information from a student’s education record may be shared if the student has given prior consent.  Consent is not required if one of the following exceptions applies:

  • The disclosure is to a school official with a legitimate educational interest;
  • The disclosure is to officials of another school/institution whether the student seeks or intends to enroll, or whether the student is already enrolled, as long as the disclosure is for purposes related to the student’s enrollment or transfer;
  • The information disclosed is considered to be directory information;
  • The disclosure is to a parent of a dependent student as defined by the Internal Revenue Code;
  • The disclosure is in connection with a health or safety emergency;
  • The disclosure is to a parent regarding a student’s violation of any federal, state, or local law, or any rule or policy of the institution, governing the use or possession of alcohol or a controlled substance when the student is under 21 years of age; and/or
  • The disclosure is otherwise permitted by FERPA.

Determinations with respect to whether an exception applies should be made on a case by case basis, and the Office of Legal Affairs should be contacted for advice regarding whether an exception applies.

Note that FERPA applies to the disclosure of education records and of personally identifiable information from education records that are maintained by the school.  Therefore, FERPA does not prohibit a school official from releasing information about a student that was obtained through the school official’s personal knowledge or observation, rather than from the student’s education records.

Directory information generally means information such as the student’s name, address, telephone number, date and place of birth, honors and awards, and dates of attendance.  The University may disclose directory information without consent, but must have given prior notice to the student about what it considers to be directory information and give the student the right to request that directory information not be shared.  Information about what the University considers to be directory information, and information about opting out of sharing directory information, may be found here: https://www.duq.edu/academics/university-registrar/ferpa.php.

FERPA gives parents certain rights with respect to their children’s education records, but these rights transfer to the student when the student reaches the age of 18 or attends a school beyond the high school level.  Where the student is a dependent as defined by the Internal Revenue Code and/or where the student has given consent for the education record to be shared, information contained in the student’s educational record may be disclosed to the parent. 

FERPA permits a college or university to inform parents of students under the age of 21 about when the student has violated a law or policy concerning the use or possession of alcohol or a controlled substance.

Nothing in FERPA prevents a school from allowing a student to bring their attorney or other legal representative with them when they exercise their right to inspect and review their education records under FERPA, but FERPA does not require a school to allow a student to bring their attorney or other legal representative with them when they exercise their right to inspect and review the student’s education records.


While this is determined on a case by case basis, if you have been sued in connection with your official duties as a university employee and you have acted lawfully and in good faith, you will likely be indemnified and defended by the university. “Official duties” include those duties and responsibilities that are part of the employee’s job description and authority.  In practice, the University counsel do not represent employees or students on personal matters or on matters that represent a conflict with the University’s interests.  See TAP 64 and Statement on Investigations.

From time to time, individual University employees are sued as a result of their activities as University employees. Employment disputes may involve an individual supervisor or administrator. An individual employee's right to be defended and/or indemnified at the University's expense is governed either by the University Bylaws and TAP 64, both of which generally provide for defense and indemnification when an employee is acting within the scope and course of their duties. See TAP 64.

Personal Legal Advice

No. The office's role is to provide legal services for the University. If you are being sued because of personal activities, the University will not defend or represent you. The University is our client, and therefore, we cannot provide legal advice or representation to staff, faculty, or students regarding personal legal issues or matters.  

The Lawyer Referral Service is a non-profit public service of the Allegheny County Bar Association designed to provide you with an impartial referral to an attorney in your city or town who handles a specific kind of legal problem. For more information, call the ACBA at 412-261-6161 or visit their website at https://www.acba.org/.

Records Retention

You are receiving a record retention memorandum because you’ve been identified as an individual who may have records regarding a matter that is in, or that may lead to, litigation.
A record retention memorandum is a letter from the Office of Legal Affairs regarding a requirement that you preserve all records, as more fully described in the memorandum, that may be directly or indirectly related to a matter that is in, or that may lead to, litigation.  Such records may include, but are not limited to, emails, reports, calendar entries, videos, and texts, and may be located at your office on campus, your home office, and/or on University or personally owned laptop or desktop computers, mobile devices, tablets, or any other device.  Once you receive a record retention memorandum, you are required to suspend any routine destruction of records that may be directly or indirectly related to the subject of the memorandum. 
Upon receipt of a record retention memorandum from the University, you must preserve all records as more fully described in the memorandum, suspend routine destruction of the records described in the memorandum, preserve all new records that are created/received after you receive the memorandum, and ensure that employees who report to you also comply with the requirements of the memorandum.  You are also required to review, sign, and return the acknowledgment form attached to the memorandum.  You must retain all evidence until notified in writing to the contrary.


TAP No. 30 establishes the University's policy prohibiting unlawful discrimination in the classroom and workplace.  Any student, faculty, or staff member who believes they have experienced a violation of TAP No. 30 is encouraged to raise the concern to the Director of Anti-Discrimination Compliance at 412-396-2073.  Reported violations of TAP No. 30 will be addressed following the Complaint Resolution process set forth in the TAP. You may also talk to your supervisor, Human Resources, or file an EthicsPoint complaint, which includes an anonymous reporting option.

If you think that you have experienced a bias-related incident, you can report this to the University’s Bias Education Response Team using BERT’s online reporting form.

TAP No. 55 sets forth standards of ethical, respectful, and professional conduct for University employees and identifies reporting options.  To learn more about this policy and reporting, contact Human Resources at hrservices@duq.edu or 412-396-6575.

TAP No. 7 establishes the consequences of fiscal misconduct and the proper reporting mechanisms to be used for notification of known or suspected fiscal misconduct. TAP No. 26, Acceptable Use of Computing Resources, may also apply.

The University has established EthicsPoint, a reporting option for individuals to report a suspected violation of TAP No. 7 and/or TAP No. 26.  EthicsPoint may also be used to report a suspected violation of laws and regulations or University policies and procedures.

EthicsPoint may be used to file an anonymous report of any kind, including discrimination and harassment complaints.

Questions and concerns about your employment should be referred to the Office of Human Resources.  Contact Human Resources at hrservices@duq.edu or 412-396-6575.

The Office of Disability Services dialogues with individuals who need academic and/or workplace accommodations to determine reasonable accommodations consistent with the University’s TAP 56: Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and Requests for Reasonable Accommodation.  To learn more or to request an accommodation, please contact the Director of Disability Services at 412-396-6658.

TAP No. 31and TAP No. 61 address sexual harassment and misconduct.  Both policies, and the processes for addressing reported policy violations, are managed by the University’s Title IX Coordinator and Director of Sexual Misconduct Prevention and Response.  Students, faculty, and staff who have questions or concerns about their experiences and about whether they have experienced a violation of either policy are encouraged to contact the Title IX Coordinator and Director of Sexual Misconduct Prevention and Response at 412-396-2560 or titleix@duq.edu.  

An Incident Report Form should be completed to document an accident or incident occurring on campus, during a University-sponsored event, and/or while driving a University Insured Vehicle (see TAP No. 38).  Employee accidents/incidents should also be reported to the Benefits Manager at 412-396-5105.

In situations involving danger to persons or property, individuals are encouraged to report the incident to the applicable local police department or Duquesne's Public Safety department at 412-396-2677.

Retaining Outside Counsel

No. The Senior Vice President for Legal Affairs and General Counsel is responsible for the selection and coordination of all legal services for the University, and must approve in advance any engagement of outside legal counsel to advise or represent the University.  Where additional or specialized legal expertise may be required, our office will evaluate and retain the use of outside counsel. All retention of outside legal counsel must be handled through the Office of Legal Affairs.  See TAP 64.

Subpoenas and Other Legal Requests

If you receive a Subpoena, please send it to the Office of Legal Affairs for review and response.  If the Subpoena requires you to take any action, you will be notified by a University attorney.  If you have any questions regarding whether or not a document you received is a Subpoena, please contact legal@duq.edu.
A subpoena is a legal document that commands a person or entity to testify as a witness at a specified time and place, including a deposition or trial, and/or to produce documents or other items in a legal proceeding.  Subpoenas contain court-imposed deadlines and are time sensitive.
Not necessarily. The University often receives subpoenas to produce documents or things as an entity who is not a party to a lawsuit, also known as a third-party.  
The typical subpoena issued and served on the University is for documents or things and may be addressed to the “Custodian of Records” or to a department with a physical location listed (the Registrar’s office, for example).  This type of subpoena should be accepted by the appropriate custodian (see TAP No. 28), and then referred to the Office of Legal Affairs for response.
This will be determined on a case by case basis.  If you receive a subpoena to testify in connection with your official duties as a University employee and you have acted lawfully and in good faith, a University attorney will likely defend your testimony.  For more information, see Indemnification FAQs.
If you are contacted by an attorney for any reason relating to your duties at the University, including for records, please refer the attorney to the Office of Legal Affairs for response.