The Office of Counsel provides legal services and representation to Duke University, Duke University Health System, Inc., and their controlled affiliates. The office does not and cannot represent employees or students in personal legal matters.

No. Only Duke’s Office of Counsel may retain outside counsel to perform legal services on behalf of Duke.

Duke University is a nonprofit corporation that is incorporated and existing under the laws of the State of North Carolina. The University is recognized as a Section 501(c)(3) tax-exempt organization as an educational organization as described in Section 509(a)(1) and 170(b)(1)(A)(ii) of the Internal Revenue Code.  The University is also exempt from North Carolina state taxes.

The Health System’s legal name is “Duke University Health System, Inc.”  It is a nonprofit corporation that is incorporated and existing under the laws of the State of North Carolina. The Health System is recognized as a 501(c)(3) tax-exempt organization as described in Sections 509(a)(1) and 170(b)(1)(A)(iii) of the Internal Revenue Code as an organization whose principal purpose is the provision of medical care.  The Health System is also exempt from North Carolina state taxes.

Inform the individual that you will not accept service because you do not have authority to accept service of process. Only Duke’s Vice President & General Counsel is authorized to accept service of process on behalf of the University or the Health System.  If you mistakenly accepted legal documents from a process server, contact the Office of the General Counsel as soon as possible.  Please be aware that these documents are time sensitive, and any delay could have serious legal consequences for Duke.

Under federal and state law, Duke has a duty to identify and preserve records that relate to pending or reasonably anticipated litigation or other legal or administrative proceedings involving Duke.  A legal hold, also known as a litigation hold or document preservation, is a notification sent from the Office of the General Counsel to certain Duke employees, agents, or representatives instructing them not to delete electronically stored information or discard hard copy documents that may be relevant, and requires you to turn off any auto-delete settings on your computer system or laptop.  A legal hold notice means you may have relevant information that the law requires you to preserve as a records custodian.  It does not necessarily mean that you are directly involved in the legal action.


The North Carolina Bar Association sponsors a Lawyer Referral Service (919)-677-8574 or (800)-662-7660. Also, the American Bar Association offers a link to as a consumers’ guide to legal help. For free legal assistance in your area try Legal Aid of North Carolina.