- Associated Press - Tuesday, July 7, 2015

URBANA, Ill. (AP) - The University of Illinois has spent more than $843,000 defending itself in a pair of lawsuits filed by a professor who was denied a job at the school after posting anti-Israel messages on Twitter.

WDWS radio obtained invoices showing how much the school paid to two outside law firms in the Steven Salaita cases. The school needed to hire outside counsel, according to University of Illinois spokesman Tom Hardy, who added that specialized legal help is necessary for such high-profile cases.

Although the school has an in-house legal team, it decided to bring in experienced attorneys who practice regularly in the courtroom, said Campus Legal Counsel Scott Rice.

“If a big case comes in that’s going to demand a lot of time and attention, we’re better off letting our inside attorneys continue with the work that they do and supervise outside counsel, who can get that work done. And then it’s over with - we don’t have to have people on staff, necessarily, with certain kinds of expertise that isn’t needed at all times,” Hardy said.

Some of the school’s legal bills were been paid for using public funds, but Hardy didn’t specify an amount, The (Champaign) News-Gazette (https://bit.ly/1CYtWxC ) reported.

Salaita sued the University of Illinois in January after administrators withdrew a job offer that he accepted in fall 2013. He’s seeking compensation for lost income and damages to his reputation, and he also wants to get the job back.

Lawyers representing Salaita also filed a Freedom of Information Act lawsuit against the University of Illinois after they were denied a request for public documents related to his case.

Both lawsuits are ongoing.


Information from: The News-Gazette, https://www.news-gazette.com

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