Secure Local Legal Counsel and Other Experts

Learn how to secure local legal counsel and other experts while performing international activities for Columbia University.


It is often necessary to consult with local resources and experts in the host country when planning and implementing a long-term activity, especially when it will require opening an office. The University often consults local experts on:

  • Host country licenses or other governmental permissions required for the planned scope
  • Host country labor laws, employer registrations, employee benefits, and other human resource practices and requirements
  • Work permits and Visas
  • Guidance on Income and other taxes
  • Wind-down and exit (Close-out)
  • Hidden costs

Only the Office of the General Counsel (OGC) may retain outside lawyers or law firms to represent the University or any School, Department, or other units. In some instances, operations also require accountants and human resources consultants. The offices of the Controller and Columbia Human Resources should be consulted before accountants and HR external experts are retained.

The University’s International Administrative Working Group (IAWG) is equipped to assist units in all phases of an overseas project, including the start-up planning and engagement of local experts and resources. The IAWG includes University resources both within academic departments and central administration, including Finance, Human Resources, Benefits and the Office of General Counsel (OGC). The IAWG can be a department’s primary source to identify and obtain all the in-country resources or experts needed to plan for and launch an overseas project and can be reached by emailing Global Support.

Within the IAWG, the OGC and Tax Departments analyze the potential regulatory and tax issues that may be triggered by a planned activity, and propose ways to achieve the department’s goals and enable the activity.

Once in-country experts have been retained, the following tools can helpful in identifying issues that will require local discussions regarding:

Forms and Documents



Contact Global Support for more information about securing local legal counsel and other experts.

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