For any legal services not provided by the Office of General Counsel are required to be approved by the Texas Attorney General in conjunction with the Office of General Counsel. The Attorney General is the constitutional attorney for the State of Texas and its agencies, including institutions of higher education. Texas Government Code §402.0212 authorizes the Attorney General to develop procedures for the use of outside counsel and determines the extent to which legal services can and should be provided by outside counsel. The Attorney General’s office must approve all requests to retain outside counsel and outside counsel contracts prior to legal services being performed, and has adopted administrative rules related to the retention and contracting of outside legal counsel. The rules can be found in Title 1, Chapter 57 of the Texas Administrative Code. Additionally, the Attorney General's office requires that law firms have malpractice insurance.
In order to contract with any outside firm, the Office of General Counsel must go through the Outside Counsel Contract processes outlined by the Attorney General of Texas (Outside Counsel Contracts). Any contract under which Legal Services are provided by a private law firm or an attorney or paraprofessional who is not employed by the system, regardless of the amount of Legal Services provided in relation to other services, will be deemed an Outside Counsel Contract (OCC).
All Outside Counsel Contracts shall be prepared by the OGC and submitted by the OGC to the Office of Attorney General (OAG) for approval.
The University of Houston System may not initiate the process of selecting outside counsel to be paid with appropriated funds prior to receiving the approval of the Office of Attorney General. No outside counsel may be retained without the prior written approval of the Office of the Attorney General. Outside counsel contracts entered into on or after September 1, 2017 will expire August 31, 2019 and contain a limit on the amount of legal fees and expenses the law firm can invoice during the contract period. The Office of General Counsel is responsible for providing a reasonable estimate of the fees and expenses.
Payment for legal services rendered by outside counsel shall be in accordance with the approved Outside Counsel Contract.
UH System cannot sign an engagement letter with any potential outside counsel because such letters do not comply with applicable laws, rules, and procedures, and are not compatible with the Attorney General's outside counsel contract template.
For assistance in requesting outside counsel, please contact Leslie Pruski.
Law Firm Selection
Beginning in 2019 and every odd year thereafter, UH System, on behalf of itself and all components, will publish a Request for Qualification (RFQ) in the Texas State Business Daily (usually in May) for the various areas of law for which there is a possibility an institution would need the legal services of outside counsel. Law firms interested in performing legal services on behalf of UH System and/or a UH System institution have 30 days in which to respond to the RFQ from the date of posting. The responses formulate a referral list for the institutions to choose outside counsel through the UH System Office of General Counsel, if and when the need arises, based on outside counsel’s demonstrated competence and qualifications to perform the legal services for a fair and reasonable price. The selection of and contracting with outside counsel is subject to the approval of the Office of the Attorney General. Inclusion of a law firm on the referral list does not guarantee that law firm have an executed outside counsel contract.