Frequently Asked Questions and Answers

If you can’t find what you’re looking for in our FAQ section, please contact us at 617-373-2157 or email us.
What if I've received a summons or subpeona?
From time to time, University personnel are asked to accept legal documents such as subpoenas or summonses. Notices are sometimes addressed to the University itself, to individually named officials of the University, or to individual members of the University community, and may be received by mail or hand-delivered by a “process server” (such as a constable or deputy sheriff).

The Office of the General Counsel is the registered agent for Northeastern University, meaning that all subpoenas must be served on the registered agent and may not be directed to any other department. The Office of the General Counsel is the only department in the University that is authorized to accept service of civil subpoenas for the University. (The Department of Public Safety may accept subpoenas for criminal matters in which it is involved.) Subpoenas delivered to any other department will be treated as invalid.

The University accepts subpoenas served in accordance with court rules that apply in Massachusetts. Transmittal of subpoenas by fax or email is not acceptable. If you have any questions about serving a subpoena at the University, please contact our office at (617) 373-2157.

A subpoena is an official court document that may require the recipient to appear in court, and often to produce documents. If you are served with a subpoena in your capacity as an employee of the University, please inform the server that you are not authorized to receive it and ask that he or she bring it directly to the Office of the General Counsel, 716 Columbus Ave, Suite 301C.

Once we receive the subpoena, we may ask your department to produce certain records or other information requested in the subpoena. Generally, the Office of the Registrar facilitates this process, and may also ask you for documents. We ask that you please cooperate with the Registrar and respond quickly. If you have any questions about requests, please feel free to contact our office.

If you are contacted by an attorney, please refer him or her to the Office of the General Counsel.

What if I'm asked for information as part of a 'background check'?
If you are approached by someone looking for private information about a student or an employee, or who wants to perform a background check, please direct that person to the Office of the General Counsel. It is imperative that we check an individual’s credentials before providing him or her with confidential documents or other information.
Should I sign a non-disclosure agreement?
If you are presented with or want to enter into a non-disclosure or confidentiality agreement and you are acting in your capacity as a Northeastern employee, do not sign. It must be processed through the Office of the General Counsel and signed by an authorized university signatory. If the non-disclosure agreement involves research or potential cooperation with any party in the field of research, such an agreement must be processed through the Office of Research Administration and Finance as well.
What if I've received a letter, e-mail, call or other contact from an attorney outside the University?
You must immediately refer all such contact to the Office of the General Counsel at x2157. If you receive written communication, the letter or other document should be delivered to our office at 716 Columbus Ave, Suite 301C.
What if I'm contacted by an agency investigator, private detective, or process server?
You must refer all such contact to the Office of the General Counsel at x2157. The Office of the General Counsel is the registered agent for service of all legal documents for the University. Therefore, you are not authorized and cannot accept service on behalf of the University.
I have a student who appears to need legal representation in a personal matter. Can the Office of the General Counsel represent the student?
No. The University is unable to provide individual legal representation to students. However, our Office does maintain contact information for lawyer referral and legal aid services that may be helpful to students seeking legal representation. Please contact our office at x2157 for such information.
Can my department hire an attorney for department or university related functions without consulting with the Office of the General Counsel?
The hiring of outside counsel for all Northeastern University matters is done exclusively by the Office of the General Counsel. There will be a General Counsel attorney who is assigned to manage/oversee any legal matter involving University representation by outside counsel. If your department has a potential legal matter or concern, please contact our Office at x2157 for advice and guidance.
What if I've received a letter seeking University records under the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA)?
Northeastern University is a private institution, and FOIA applies only to public institutions. Therefore, no University records may be provided in response to such a request. You should forward the FOIA request to the Office of the General Counsel, which will issue a standard response to such an inquiry.
What if I'm exporting/importing materials from another country?
Northeastern University engages in research and educational activities that may involve the development or use of products, goods, hardware, software, materials or technology that may be subject to U.S. export control laws and regulations. The U.S. Government increasingly is focused on the compliance of universities with these laws and regulations. Northeastern is committed to complying with all applicable export controls, as established by the applicable federal regulations. It is critical that everyone in the Northeastern community understands the rules and complies with them fully. See the University’s Research website on export control for more information. The Office of the General Counsel works closely with Research Administration in this area; please contact Rob Leahy or John Crowley with any questions for further information.
A state inspector stopped by my work area and asked what chemicals I work with and where they are stored.
Regulatory agencies conduct a number of routine inspections at our facilities but MUST be accompanied by an administrative representative of the University who has thorough knowledge of the program being inspected or audited. Should any unauthorized visitor or inspector come to your work site, contact your supervisor who then must contact immediately the appropriate University administrator and the University’s Environmental Health and Safety Office, which will authorize a visit as appropriate and/or in compliance with applicable law.

Contact Us

Office of the General Counsel
360 Huntington Avenue – 301 CP
Boston, Massachusetts 02115

Phone: 617-373-2157
Fax: 617-373-8090

Email Us