General Advice from General Counsel

These advisory statements have been developed by the University General Counsel staff to provide general guidance on common legal issues encountered by NMSU stakeholders.  For specific guidance, please submit a request for legal assistance at


FAQ’s About Contract Approval and Signature Authority (Sept. 2017)

  • What is a contract?
  • How is a MOA, or MOU, or LOI different than a contract?
  • How does the approval and signature authority process control legal and financial risk at NMSU?
  • What kind of risks can be created in a contract that a typical NMSU employee might not recognize?
  • Aside from liability issues, what other kinds of legal concerns arise from contracts?
  • Who can sign contracts at NMSU?
  • What happens if someone who does not have authority signs a contract?
  • What is a routing form and why do we need to use one when sending a contract for signature?
  • What can I do to make sure that my contract is routed expeditiously?

Due Process in Decisions with Serious Consequences (Nov. 2016)

  • When does an NMSU employee act as an arm of the government?
  • What is substantive due process . . . what kind of justification do I need for the decisions I make that impact other NMSU stakeholders?
  • What are the basic components of procedural due process?
  • How can we correct due process errors?
  • What University decisions require due process to be given?

Dealing with Litigation Threats (Nov. 2016)

  • How to respond when a student or employee makes a threat to sue or get a lawyer?
  • When do you have a responsibility to report the threat and to whom?

Hiring Individuals Not Authorized to Work in U.S.:  Immigration Petitions (April 2019)

  • What obligation does NMSU have when an individual selected during a hiring process is not eligible to work in the U.S.?
  • How does an NMSU department obtain seek employment authorization for a non-eligible immigrant?
  • Why must NMSU departments and their staff or potential staff use the NMSU designating legal counsel for immigration petitions?
  • Who is responsible for paying for immigration petition related governmental fees and attorney fees?
  • How should an NMSU staff member respond to a request to see the department’s public access file relating to immigration petitions?

Essential Contract Formalities (Feb. 2015)

  • What are some of the essential requirements for a valid contract?
  • Who is authorized to sign a contract?
  • Why is the statement of an effective date and term (period of time) important?
  • What are some of the limits on public entity (NMSU) contracts?

Anti-Donation Clause and Other Gift Restrictions in Government (Jan. 2015)

  • What legal restrictions on accepting gifts apply to government employees?
  • What restrictions and reporting are required for NMSU gifts to state officials?
  • What activities are prohibited under the anti-donation clause of the NM Constitution?
  • What exceptions to the anti-donation clause allow governmental donations?
  • What are some common potential violations of the anti-donation clause?

Liability Concerns – NMSU and its Employees (Dec. 2014)

  • What protection from personal liability is provided to NMSU employees?
  • What is the potential personal liability for signing documents without authority?
  • What is the potential personal liability for engaging in activities outside the scope of NMSU’s regular approved institutional activities?
  • What is the scope of NMSU’s liability coverage?
  • What NMSU liabilities are not covered by insurance?

Court Orders and Law Enforcement Inquiries on the University Campus (Nov. 2014)

  • How should NMSU employees respond to inquiries by individuals claiming to be representatives of law enforcement agencies?
  • How should I respond to routine employment or student reference or background checks?
  • When do privacy laws prevent disclosures to law enforcement?
  • Who is responsible for providing information about international students to Homeland Security?
  • What do I do if I am served with a summons and complaint (the start of a lawsuit)?
  • What do I do if I am served with a subpoena to appear in court or at deposition?