Office of Legal Affairs and Labor Relations

The Office of Legal Affairs and Labor Relations provides legal counsel to the college, fostering sound decision-making and creative problem-solving in all areas of operation, research, and administration.  We are committed to:

  • providing high-quality legal services in a responsible, helpful, and timely manner;
  • protecting and promoting the values and interests of the college, including compliance with its obligations;
  • minimizing legal risks and costs; and
  • addressing and resolving legal disputes.

Our office also manages the employee grievance and disciplinary procedures at the college level and works with CUNY’s Office of General Counsel to represent the college’s interest at all levels of appeal.

We serve as the college’s Records Access Office and Ethics Office.

Note that the office does not provide personal legal services to students, staff, or faculty.

Brooklyn College Campus


The executive legal counsel and labor designee serves as the college’s ethics officer. Information about the ethics laws and regulations that apply to Brooklyn College employees is available on the State Commission on Ethics and Lobbying in Government website. You may also reach out to our office for help with specific questions.

Brooklyn College Campus

Records Access and Information Requests

The Office of Legal Affairs and Labor Relations serves as the college’s Records Access Office and responds to requests for information from third parties in accord with its legal and contractual obligations. All such requests should be directed to this office. This includes requests made under the New York State Freedom of Information Law (“FOIL”), the Taylor law, information subpoenas from private parties, court orders, and discovery requests issued in connection with lawsuits in which the college is a party.


Sarah Luke, Executive Legal Counsel and Labor Designee

With more than 15 years of progressive legal experience in higher education, Sarah Luke is an active member of the National Association of College and University Attorneys and a frequent presenter at both regional and national conferences on the law of higher education. Luke is a graduate of the University of Michigan Law School and holds a bachelor’s degree in psychology, with high distinction, from the University of Michigan—Ann Arbor. She is admitted to practice in New York, New Jersey, and Michigan.

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Employee Indemnification

The City University of New York, its constituent colleges, and their respective employees are held harmless and indemnified pursuant to Education Law Sections 6205 and 6224. University employees may also be indemnified under Section 17 of the New York State Public Officers Law if they are sued due to their good faith performance of their job responsibilities.

Brooklyn College Campus

Service of Process

The City University of New York Administrative Office, located at 205 East 42nd Street, New York, New York, is the university office designated to accept legal service on behalf of the university, the constituent colleges and units of CUNY (including Brooklyn College), the CUNY Board of Trustees, current employees of the Central Office of CUNY, the City University Construction Fund, and the CUNY Civil Service Commission.

The Brooklyn College Office Legal Affairs and Labor Relations is the college office designated to accept legal service on behalf of Brooklyn College and the Brooklyn College president. The office will not accept service on behalf of individually named college employees; personal service of those individuals is required.

Attorney-Client Privilege

The attorney-client privilege is one of the oldest and most respected privileges in American jurisprudence. It prevents a lawyer from being compelled to testify against his or her client. The purpose underlying this privilege is to ensure that clients receive accurate and competent legal advice by encouraging full disclosure to their lawyer without fear that the information will be revealed to others. The privilege covers written and oral communications and protects both individual and institutional clients.

For the privilege to exist, the communication must be:

  • to, from, or with an attorney;
  • made for the purpose of requesting or receiving legal advice; and
  • kept confidential.

Specific Situations Not Covered by the Attorney Client Privilege

  • Lawyer in the Room—Sometimes a lawyer is called upon to participate in activities that do not necessarily call for specific legal advice or representation. In those contexts, the attorney-client privilege may not apply. A meeting that legal counsel attends is not protected just because a lawyer is in the room.
  • Documents Given to an Attorney—Documents do not automatically become privileged simply because they are given to or reviewed by an attorney. An existing, nonprivileged document that is forwarded to an attorney does not then become privileged.
  • Correspondence With Copies to an Attorney—General correspondence does not become privileged because an attorney is listed among those receiving a copy or “blind” copy.
  • Communications in the Presence of a Third Party—The privilege extends only to communications that the client intends to be confidential. Communications made in nonprivate settings, or in the presence of third persons unnecessary to accomplish the purpose for which the attorney was consulted, are not confidential and are not protected by the privilege.
  • Communications With a Nonpracticing Attorney—The attorney-client privilege does not protect communications between individuals and attorneys who are not engaged in the practice of law or who are serving in non-attorney roles.

Attorney Work-Product

Attorney work-product includes documents, records, and the like that are compiled or produced at the request of counsel in anticipation of litigation. Privilege extends to attorney work-product.

Legal Affairs and Labor Relations FAQ

My department has been served with a lawsuit. What should I do?

Contact the Office of Legal Affairs and Labor Relations immediately. The college must respond to lawsuits within a specified time period after it has been served. Do not discuss the lawsuit or the actions leading up to the lawsuit with third parties, especially with the other side or the attorney representing the other side.

I’ve been personally named as a defendant in a lawsuit. I was only doing my job. Will the college defend me?

Brooklyn College employees may be eligible for indemnification under New York law if they are sued because of their good faith efforts to perform their jobs. An employee personally named as a defendant in a lawsuit should contact the Office of Legal Affairs and Labor Relations immediately.

Does it matter if I have left Brooklyn College or CUNY employment at the time I am sued?

Your defense and indemnification depend on whether the conduct at issue occurred in the course and scope of your employment, not whether you continue to be employed by Brooklyn College or CUNY.

I’ve been served with a subpoena. What should I do?

Contact the Office of Legal Affairs and Labor Relations immediately. A subpoena is an order of the court. It may command you to appear at a specified date, time, and location to testify, or it may command you to produce certain documents. Do not ignore a subpoena. Failure to respond to a subpoena could result in you or the college being held in contempt of court.

What should I do if someone tries to serve me with a summons or complaint addressed to the college?

You are not authorized to accept service on behalf of the college, CUNY, the CUNY Board of Trustees, or the president. Refer the person who is attempting to serve you to the Office of Legal Affairs and Labor Relations. If the summons or other official document is addressed to you and relates to your college employment, then personal service is required and you can accept service. You should then immediately notify the Office of Legal Affairs and Labor Relations so that an appropriate response can be made.

Brooklyn. All in.