Legal services delivery at public institutions of higher education in a New England state

Frank A Sargent, Johnson & Wales University

Abstract

While most university leaders have realized the need for having some form of legal services system in place, many struggle with what delivery method, in-house counsel or external law firms, to use (Santora & Kaplin, 2003). ^ This study investigated why some colleges and universities employ in-house counsel, while others rely on private law firms. The research questions were linked to the literature on methods of delivery of legal services, and preventive law practices and the role of attorneys in higher education.^ Research Questions: (1) What factors contribute to the decisions made by leaders at public institutions of higher education to employ in-house legal counsel or to rely primarily on private law firms for the delivery of legal services? (2) How do administrators describe the current practices at public institutions of higher education relative to preventive law? (3) How do attorneys describe the current practices at public institutions of higher education relative to preventive law?^ This study employed depth interviewing technique and an evaluative questionnaire to collect and analyze data. Face-to-face interviews were conducted with N=6 vice presidents at N=6 public institutions of higher education in one state in the Northeast region; n=3 attorneys who serve as in-house counsel; and, n = 3 attorneys from private law firms who provide legal counsel to public institutions of higher education. Interview transcripts were coded for patterns, categories, and themes (Patton, 2002), which were linked to the literature on history of legal counsel, preventive law, and the role of the attorney in higher education. These findings were triangulated with data retrieved from the evaluative questionnaire. ^ The findings of this study reveal cost, availability of counsel, knowledge of client, and knowledge of legal issues as major factors to consider when selecting a method of delivery of legal services for a public institution of higher education. The findings also reveal significant differences in preventive law practices between institutions that employ in-house legal staff and institutions that rely on outside counsel. The results of this study will be shared with all leadership of higher education, to include the Secretary of Education and Department of Higher Education.^

Subject Area

Law|Education, Leadership|Education, Higher

Recommended Citation

Frank A Sargent, "Legal services delivery at public institutions of higher education in a New England state" (January 1, 2010). Dissertation & Theses Collection. Paper AAI3390636.
http://scholarsarchive.jwu.edu/dissertations/AAI3390636

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