What to do if you receive a “Litigation Hold Request,” or “Notice to Preserve Documents and Electronic Data?”

The Office of the General Counsel issues Litigation Hold Requests. If you receive one, it is because the OGC believes you may have documents relevant to actual or anticipated litigation or investigation involving the College or a College employee. Under the law, the College has an obligation to preserve information that may be relevant to such proceedings. If you are involved in a situation that you think could possibly result in a threatened or actual lawsuit, investigation, or audit involving the College or a College employee, you should consult with the OGC.

Please do not panic if you receive a litigation hold. We take them seriously and include individuals broadly because it is imperative to comply with the law. You should understand, however, that receiving such a notice does not mean you are necessarily considered a witness.

If you receive a Litigation Hold Request, you should read through it and make sure you understand it. Then, follow the steps to comply with it, including confirming your compliance with the OGC and preserving materials until the OGC alerts you that we are terminating the hold.


A subpoena is a legal tool used to gather information, such as in litigation. A subpoena directed to Emerson College could seek documents or testimony regarding a student or an employee, present or former. Such notices are sometimes addressed to the Emerson College itself, or to individually named officials of the College. Subpoenas can involve both legal matters that involve the College, and matters between third parties not involving the College where the College holds relevant information.

In some instances, subpoenas are received by mail; in other instances, they may be hand-delivered by a "process server" (such as a constable or deputy sheriff). Subpoenas have short deadlines by which the College must respond. If the College receives a subpoena, it is critical that the College responds to it in a timely manner and in accordance with privacy laws. If you receive a subpoena, you should contact the Office of the General Counsel immediately, preferably the same day you receive it. You should hand-deliver or scan and email the subpoena to a member of the OGC. Do not discard any of the mailing or delivery materials, including postmarked envelopes.

If a process server serves a subpoena in person, College offices and employees should not accept the subpoena. Direct process servers to the Office of the General Counsel (Ansin Building, 180 Tremont Street, 14th Floor). Our office will determine whether the College can accept the subpoena.

If you are contacted by an attorney for any of the parties, please refer them to our office. If your office receives a subpoena or information request by fax or mail, please forward it to James Merenda (james_merenda [at] (james_merenda[at]emerson[dot]edu)).

The recipient of the subpoena must always coordinate with the OGC. We will determine whether it is legally valid before disclosing any documents requested.

Areas of Practice

The Office of the General Counsel advises all offices and departments of the College on a wide variety of substantive legal areas. The list below is a representative sample. Do not hesitate to call the OGC even if you have a legal issue that is not on the list, since the OGC also has an extensive network of outside law firms who are subject matter experts in all areas of the law. Only the OGC can retain law firms to represent the College, so always contact the OGC first before you contact an outside law firm.

  • Athletics
  • Business Law
  • Disability Law
  • College Policies
  • Construction 
  • Contracts
  • Distance/Online Learning
  • Employment Law
  • FERPA (Student Records)
  • Financings
  • Gifts and Donations
  • Governance
  • Government Investigations
  • Health Law
  • Immigration
  • Institutional Asset Management
  • Intellectual Property
  • Labor Law
  • Laws affecting Students
  • Laws affecting Minors
  • Laws affecting Research and Creative Scholarship
  • Litigation
  • Mergers and Acquisitions
  • Real Estate
  • Regulatory Compliance
  • Risk Management/Insurance
  • Subpoena
  • Tax
  • Tenure and Promotion
  • Title IX