McMaster Eagle

Office of Legal Services

Welcome to McMaster University’s Office of Legal Services. This website is designed to familiarize the McMaster community with our office, our role at the University and the services we offer. The website also houses various resources and template documents available for use. We hope this website provides a valuable first resource on McMaster legal matters.



The Office of Legal Services is dedicated to providing efficient, reliable and professional legal advice and strategic guidance to its University clients. Our lawyers and staff pride themselves on serving as a resource for informed decision-making and creative problem-solving which supports the University’s academic, research and community service objectives.


General legal advice and services are provided by the Office of Legal Services to McMaster’s Board of Governors, Senate, Senior Administration, Faculties, Departments and Administrative Units engaged in University activities.


As internal counsel, we constantly strive to understand the University’s mission and objectives through regular interaction with groups and individuals from across the University to assist them in conducting McMaster’s daily business. We keep informed of legislation and case law that may impact the University. We also seek to maintain an understanding of the issues affecting higher education generally so that we may offer legal and strategic advice within the University context.

The objectives of the Office of Legal Services include:

  1. Serving as a point of first contact for all requests for legal services and assigning legal matters to the appropriate lawyer, either internally or externally.
  2. Oversight and facilitation of all manner of legal transactions and communications, as appropriate, in the course of fulfilling the University’s legal and ethical obligations.
  3. Liaising with external university counsel to formalize retainers and/or engagement letters; facilitating case management and reviewing and approving invoices and fees charged by external counsel for completeness and propriety.


The Office of Legal Services offers legal advice and guidance in the following areas:

Labour & Employment

  • Faculty & Staff Relations
  • Hiring
  • Termination
  • Harassment
  • Immigration
  • Policy Review & Advice

Business Transactions

  • Contract Drafting & Negotiation
  • Finance
  • I.T.
  • Purchasing
  • Tax
  • Debt Collection
  • Charitable Donations
  • Intellectual Property
  • Communications
  • Franchising

Academic, Research & Campus Services

  • Ethics
  • Fundraising
  • Landlord & Tenant
  • International Contracting
  • Memoranda of Understanding

Facilities & Land Use

  • Environmental
  • Construction
  • Leasing
  • Licensing
  • Facilities
  • Acquisitions
  • Land Use Agreements

Governance & Compliance

  • Lobbying
  • Legislative Affairs
  • Privacy
  • Safety
  • Board & Senate Issues
  • Policy Review & Advice

Civil Processes

  • Demand Letters
  • Production Requests
  • Litigation Materials

Do you require legal advice or guidance?


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Geoff Tierney

University Counsel & Director, Employee/Labour Relations

Geoff is the University Counsel & Director, Employee/Labour Relations within the University's Office of Legal Services and Department of Human Resources. Geoff is the University's senior legal counsel and is responsible for the legal, employee/labour relations and collective bargaining portfolios at the University.

He holds an honours Bachelor of Sciences degree from the University of Toronto, specializing in cognitive science and a Bachelor of Laws degree from Queen's University. Geoff was called to the Ontario Bar in 2002. Prior to joining McMaster University in 2005, Geoff practiced law in Toronto at the firm of Baker & McKenzie, specializing in employment, labour and human rights law.

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Brent Davis

Corporate Counsel

Brent is the University’s Corporate Counsel and provides legal representation and counsel with respect to general corporate matters, including matters related to corporate governance, real estate, contracts, corporate tax, financial agreements, transactions, regulatory compliance, policy development and related matters.

He holds an honours Bachelor of Arts degree from McMaster University as well as a Bachelor of Laws degree from the University of Western Ontario and a Master of Laws degree from Leeds Metropolitan University. Brent was called to the Ontario Bar in 2002. Since joining McMaster in 2008, Brent has held legal counsel and leadership positions in the McMaster Industry Liaison Office. Prior to joining McMaster, Brent practiced law in Hamilton specializing in Corporate-Commercial and Real Estate matters and at Sun Life Financial Inc. where he practiced in the Group Insurance and Pension Benefits Division.

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Nina Bovair


Nina is the Employee/Labour Relations Administrator with the Department of Human Resources and also manages all administrative matters in the Offices of Legal Services. She holds a Bachelor of Commerce degree from McMaster University. Prior to her current role, Nina was a Human Resources Advisor in the Human Resources Service Centre and a Compensation Analyst in the Total Compensation Unit.

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KPI Scorecard

Office of Legal Services - Key Performance Indicator Scorecard

Priority Area No. KPI Measure Rationale KPI Measurement Mechanism Score Comment
Client Service 1 File Turn Around Time Quantify time between file open and close (as against reasonable outcome) File open date is tracked via OLS Open File Memo and closed date tracked via OLS Matter Spreadsheet; include assessment of reasonable outcome and corresponding timeframe
2 Overall Satisfaction Use quantitative and qualitative survey data to assess client satisfaction with OLS services Annual client survey results (to be done in concert with E/LR and/or HR survey
People 3 Knowledge Transfer Objective assessment of development and communication of expertise & resources to assist clients with mitigating legal risk & compliance efforts Quantify education sessions, education materials (ie CASL), new website materials, new templates, general matters with new University clients
Financial Resources 4 External Counsel Spend: Routine Matters Routine matters are those that are predictably and repetitively encountered in a University setting and are largely performed internally. Extra-ordinary matters are identified by their rarity, complexity and size, which often require external assistance. OLS file review to identify routine matter; invoice review to determine cost.
5 External Counsel Spend: Extra-ordinary matters OLS file review to identify extra-ordinary matter; invoice review to determine cost.