Colleges and universities juggle competing priorities and varying legal needs. Our lawyers are members of NACUA and they understand what it takes to support you as an extension of your internal team, collaborating on construction projects or taking on the heavy lifting of an investigation or significant financing transaction. When challenges arise, we deliver the approach that works best for you.
Alston & Bird’s Colleges & Universities Group is comprised of a multidisciplinary team of attorneys with a broad range of experience assisting colleges and universities in complex matters that include litigation, construction, financing, real estate, labor and employment, internal investigations and intellectual property. Our attorneys are steeped in the industry and attuned to the myriad challenges facing colleges and universities today; many have served on boards of trustees for public and private colleges and universities, and we also represent accrediting agencies. Whether the matter involves a major investigation, an employment dispute, or a significant financing transaction, we provide the full range of strategic counsel to solve problems and address any crisis a college or university may face.
Litigation, Investigations and Employment Matters Leveraging the strength and depth of the firm’s multiple specialized practice areas, our colleges & universities attorneys have successfully represented clients in a wide range of matters involving litigation, construction and employment matters.
Project Finance Our attorneys have worked on projects involving construction, financing and real estate for more than 40 colleges and universities across the country. Our lawyers structure the transaction in anticipation of the client’s long-term goals, spot issues to avoid legal delays and coordinate the many disciplines and professionals required to implement a facilities project. We also represent colleges and universities in the negotiation and drafting of design and construction contracts, as well as in litigating, arbitrating and mediating construction disputes.
The group’s projects have included the construction of laboratory, research and classroom facilities, athletic complexes, art museums, performance centers and hospital facilities.
Government Investigations Our attorneys regularly conduct internal investigations on behalf of clients facing allegations of misconduct by government regulators. In these instances, one of our primary goals is to prevent federal or state law enforcement authorities from conducting full-blown investigations by offering to conduct an internal investigation and to disclose relevant misconduct.
We have a highly credentialed team of former federal prosecutors who lead internal investigations—these lawyers have extensive experience leading investigations and prosecutions for the government; they now bring that experience to bear in leading investigations for clients being investigated by the government. Our government investigations lawyers are well-known by the government, and they are trusted.
Patent Practice Alston & Bird’s patent practice provides a full range of patent services to both corporate and university clients. Our attorneys and agents have expertise in emerging and cutting edge technologies, such as genetic engineering, microelectronics, computer hardware, computer software, Internet and business methods patents.
We have worked with many universities and research institutions to develop patent portfolios around important technologies. Our Biotechnology, Chemical & Pharmaceutical Group is comprised of members with advanced degrees in an array of scientific fields. Our attorneys and patent agents have extensive technical experience gained from years of service in both industry and academia as research scientists, post-doctoral fellows and university faculty. Additionally, our vast legal experience has been developed not only through our individual practices within Alston & Bird, but also through service as in-house counsel and through work within the Examining Corps of the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office.
Bringing Value to Our Clients
We understand how busy colleges and universities are in juggling many competing priorities. What distinguishes Alston & Bird from other firms is that we view ourselves as part of a client’s team—we are equally comfortable leading a matter, such as a major investigation, or simply providing additional support to supplement our clients’ existing resources. We can work side-by-side with a client’s internal team and share the workload and late nights as a seamless extension of that team, or we can lead the investigation or matter, or any permutation in between that is responsive to each client’s needs.
Our goal is to help clients handle their investigations, employment matters, litigation or transactions so that in the end, they have confidence in both the process and the result. Coupling our use of technology with our highly experienced team of attorneys, our Alston & Bird team produces efficient, favorable outcomes for our university and college clients.
Representative Litigation, Investigations and Employment Engagements
Drafted and negotiated a head men’s basketball coaching contract for a major university.
Advise clients on conducting internal investigations to address allegations of sexual harassment and sexual assault in compliance with the Department of Education’s Office of Civil Rights’ “Dear Colleague” letter.
Conducted collective bargaining agreement negotiations with unions representing campus employees.
Successfully defended a college in an Office of Civil Rights investigation related to claims of discrimination based on mental disability.
Represented a college in an NLRB unfair labor practice proceeding and litigation against unions related to campus protests.
Advised a major public institution on the structure and legal aspects of its first-ever reduction in force, with no resulting litigation.
Successfully handled the investigation of charges of discrimination asserted by the U.S. Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs against a major university.
Representing a university in the defense of a wrongful death/negligent campus security action.
Represented many colleges and universities in addressing sensitive and potentially damaging personnel matters.
Provide legal, and practical, guidance and support to department heads and support staff related to the recruitment, processing and retention of non-U.S. work-authorized scholars, for long- and short-term positions with the university. This guidance includes the use of the B, F, H, J, O, TN, labor certification, I-140, adjustment of status and other related processes. We also guide university human resources on the proper employment verification processes for all personnel, including the use of Form I-9, E-Verify and compliance with state related immigration laws.
Representative Project Finance Engagements
Represented Auburn University in the financing and development of its research and technology park, including the negotiation of all design and construction contracts.