Accessibility statement

Legal Services

Contact us

Legal advice request form

For general enquiries please email legal@york.ac.uk.

Legal Services is part of Corporate and Information Services, and supports the University in effectively identifying and managing legal risk.

This means we:

  • help University staff obtain appropriate legal advice
  • develop templates, toolkits and training to help colleagues understand and respond to legal issues 
  • maintain oversight of legal risk and legal spend across the University
  • manage our relationships with our external legal advisers.

In terms of our role, it is helpful to think of us like a GP. We can help you identify legal issues and advise you on routine matters but we will refer you on to external specialists where more complex or bespoke support is needed.

How do I obtain legal support?

Please complete the form below:

Legal advice request form »

You'll need to provide a brief description of the relevant issues and your timescales. You do not need to know exactly what type of legal support you require - we can help you work this out.

There are currently three lawyers in Legal Services (two of whom are part time): Gemma LoweHelen Shay and Cerys Mawson. We specialise in commercial and regulatory matters, but can provide general support across a range of legal issues.

What type of legal support can I expect?

There are three different levels of support available:

Sounding board

We can act as a sounding board to help you think about legal issues you might be facing, decide what they are and what type of support you need.

Routine advice

In the case of routine matters, we can often provide initial advice and help you assess whether more detailed external legal input is required. We may refer you to training and guidance materials where appropriate.

External support

Where your request for legal advice requires more detailed input or cannot be dealt with effectively internally or in accordance with your deadlines, we will support you in working with external lawyers to secure appropriate advice.

FAQs

Coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak - Is there any legal guidance?

We are developing a series of legal guidance notes related to the coronavirus outbreak. We will build on this guidance over the coming weeks:

Are there occasions in which I have to contact Legal Services?

Yes.

1) If you receive notification of a claim or dispute with the University. This might appear in the form of:

  • a letter from a solicitor 
  • court documents
  • a notification alleging that a third party might take action against the University.

There may be deadlines against which the University needs to respond, so it is important that you forward on any communications you receive to legal@york.ac.uk as quickly as possible.

2) If you are instructing external solicitors. Make sure you:

  • let us know first, by completing the Legal Advice Request Form
  • provide Legal Services with a copy of your correspondence
  • provide us with a copy of the final advice.

Who can seek legal advice?

If you are contacting us for legal advice, please ensure you have the support of a senior member of your team who can authorise any costs which may be incurred and any decisions which may need to be made.

We would normally expect that requests for legal advice from academic colleagues are directed through professional services teams in the first instance. We will then support the relevant professional services team to secure legal input.

Do you offer advice to students?

We're not able to offer advice to students. We recommend contacting the following teams:

How do I prioritise requests for legal support?

Generally, we will prioritise advice requests which have cross-institutional impact or help manage financial or reputational risk at an institutional level.

We are a small team and, at some points, demand for our internal services may exceed our capacity, particularly if team members are tied up in larger projects. In this case, we may refer you to external solicitors or direct you to guidance and support materials.

Do I need to follow your advice?

When we provide legal advice, we will always aim to ensure that we take a risk-based approach. We will make clear what the strict legal position is, but will explain what options you have to manage your legal risk is an effective way. There is not always a black-and-white legal answer. Where we identify that a particular course of action will result in a significant legal risk for the University, we will make this clear. Difficult decisions are sometimes required around how the University both manages legal risk and achieves a specific outcome and, in these circumstances, we will work with you to escalate the issue to an appropriate decision-maker.

Can you give my document a general legal health check?

We have a rolling annual programme to review institutional level policies and guidance. If you would like your document to be included in this programme, please email legal@york.ac.uk to discuss this. If you have a specific timeframe in mind, please contact us to find out our current support availability. If needed, we will help you seek external input.

I’m not sure whether my query is a legal issue. Can you help?

Please feel free to contact us by emailing legal@york.ac.uk. We are very willing to work with you to talk through any issues which may have legal implications and work out the next steps with you.