The purpose of the Office of General Counsel is to provide legal advice and representation to Samford University. In that capacity, the General Counsel advises the Board of Trustees, the President, executive officers, administrators, faculty and staff on an array of legal issues that impact the university. Additionally, the General Counsel provides a variety of legal services, undertakes various legal initiatives, supervises retained outside legal counsel, and generally coordinates legal services for Samford University.
What Does the Office of General Counsel Do?
Samford University is a complex and diverse academic community that implicates numerous legal disciplines. The work of the General Counsel therefore involves many areas of the law. Those areas include athletics, business transactions, compliance oversight, construction, contracts, corporate governance, employment, insurance and risk management, intellectual property, law enforcement, litigation, policy analysis, preparation and amendment, real estate, student organizations, technology and venue licensing.
Who Is In the Office of General Counsel?
Clark Watson came to Samford University as its General Counsel on February 1, 2015. Previously he was a partner in the Birmingham office of Balch & Bingham LLP. He was a member of the university’s Board of Trustees from 2003-2011, and served as its Chair from 2007 through 2011. After graduation from the Harrison School of Pharmacy at Auburn University, he attended Samford University’s Cumberland School of Law, where he graduated magna cum laude and was a member of the Cumberland Law Review Editorial Board and the National Moot Court Team. Following law school graduation, he clerked for the Honorable James H. Hancock, United States District Judge for the Northern District of Alabama. He also received a Master of Arts from Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary. Clark and his wife, Debbie, have two adult daughters and five grandchildren, and are members of Mountain Brook Community Church.
Nicole Otero began working at Samford University in 2013. Her first position was Program Assistant in the Office of Career Development at Samford’s Cumberland School of Law. In 2016, Otero began her current role as Paralegal for the General Counsel’s office. Prior to working at Samford, Otero was a Project Manager and Paralegal at Legal Services Alabama, Inc. After earning a Bachelor of Science, she was awarded a Master of Science in Instructional Design and Technology, both degrees beings from Samford University. In addition to her work in the General Counsel Office, Nicole is a Notary Public and she serves the university as a Title IX Investigator.
Does the General Counsel provide legal assistance for personal matters for faculty, staff and students?
No, the General Counsel only represents the university, including faculty and non-faculty employees with respect to the performance of their employment by Samford. If faculty, staff, students or other individual have personal legal issues, they should contact a private attorney.
I have a personal document that requires notarization. May I get that notarized in your office?
Yes. We are available to notarize university and personal documents for faculty, staff and students during normal business hours. Contact our office at (205) 726-4504 to schedule an appointment. You will need to bring a state or government-issued picture I.D. with you. Do not sign the document until you are in the presence of the notary.
Does the General Counsel need to review all university contracts?
Yes, all contracts require a legal review by the General Counsel. Refer to the contract review procedures section on this webpage.
Who has the authority to sign a contract on behalf of Samford University?
The President has the authority to sign all contracts on behalf of the university. The President has delegated to the Provost the authority to sign Academic Contracts and to the Vice President for Business and Financial Affairs to sign Business Contracts. The Vice Provost for the College of Health Sciences is authorized to sign contracts that are specific to that portion of the university. For more information, see the contract review procedures portion on this webpage.
What should I do if I am served with a subpoena?
If you are served with a subpoena that designates Samford University or you in your capacity as a Samford University employee, or the subpoena otherwise relates to the operations of the university, immediately notify the Office of the General Counsel, identify all documents in your possession, custody or control that are responsive to the subpoena, and promptly deliver those document to the Office of the General Counsel. If you are served with a subpoena regarding a personal matter, even if you are served while on the Samford campus, you should seek the advice of private attorney.
When should I contact the Office of the General Counsel?
Contact the Office of the General Counsel when you need legal documents prepared or reviewed, when a situation may result in a claim or lawsuit against the university, when you are seeking legal advice in relation to your Samford employment obligations, and when you have questions about compliance issues.