Higher Education

Higher Education

Downey Brand understands the many complexities institutions of higher education confront as they pursue the critical mission of educating their student populations. Universities and colleges are, all at the same time, educators, employers, corporate and business entities, financial institutions, charitable organizations, property owners, landlords, tenants, health care providers, police forces, research and development organizations, and fundraisers. In representing institutes of higher education, Downey Brand brings to its clients vast expertise in these areas while being extremely sensitive to the nuances colleges and universities face.

Downey Brand’s higher education lawyers provide counsel to Boards of Regents and university and college administrators on corporate governance, including advice regarding shared governance.  Higher education institutions seek our expertise on nonprofit corporate and tax-exempt compliance matters including the proper handling of potential conflict of interest and excess benefit issues.  We assist university departments on contract and bid procurement, student loans and collections, securing complex credit facilities, charitable gift rules, estate and trust issues, acquisition of real property and the construction of school facilities.

We provide counsel regarding the vast array of faculty, staff, and student policies and issues.  Subject matter expertise includes promotion and tenure policies, Title IX compliance, employment and student investigations, advice regarding student conduct interpretation, hearing procedures and faculty grievance issues.  Additionally, we assist our higher education institution clients with all aspects of their insurance and risk management programs and defend against the wide variety of claims brought against such institutions.

Downey Brand understands the postsecondary education sector from a legal, regulatory and business prospective.  Our attorneys find solutions, so our clients can focus on their mission of providing a superior education for the next generation of leaders.

Experience

  • Work closely with Board of Regents to complete detailed review and revisions of university governance documents such as bylaws and board policies; regularly attend Board meetings.
  • Successfully defend against claims by students alleging failure to properly report graduation data, breach of education contracts, improper involuntary withdrawal and all personal torts.
  • Advise Provost regarding faculty grievance process, including interpretation of Faculty Handbook, communication with faculty, and preparation of witnesses and documents for grievance hearing.
  • Successfully defend employment claims brought by tenured professors and staff involving claims of breach of contract, discrimination and retaliation.  Assist university with related external and internal public relations messaging.
  • Represent university with respect to the acquisition, implementation and any disputes arising out of university-wide technology systems and upgrades.
  • Advise universities with respect to all aspects of the sale and acquisition of university facilities including real property purchases and sale agreements; arranging of complex credit facilities, negotiation of construction contracts and equipment purchases and lease agreements, and negotiate and draft leases.
  • Advise universities regarding Clery Act, HIPPA and FERPA compliance. Develop related policies and prepare federal compliance reports.

Selected Experience
  • Work closely with Board of Regents to complete detailed review and revisions of university governance documents such as bylaws and board policies; regularly attend Board meetings.
  • Successfully defend against claims by students alleging failure to properly report graduation data, breach of education contracts, improper involuntary withdrawal and all personal torts.
  • Advise Provost regarding faculty grievance process, including interpretation of Faculty Handbook, communication with faculty, and preparation of witnesses and documents for grievance hearing.

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