Colleges and universities play a vital role in our society—educating the next generation, creating jobs in the community, fostering innovation—and answer to many different stakeholders. From labor and employment to financing, construction, real estate, accreditation, intellectual property, internal audits and investigations, or litigation, an institution’s need for informed, responsive legal guidance on a host of topics is clear. Alston & Bird’s Colleges & Universities Team is a multidisciplinary group of lawyers steeped in the industry and attuned to the myriad challenges facing educational institutions today. A number of our team’s lawyers have served on boards of trustees for private and public colleges and universities, giving us a front seat to the issues that most concern you.
Unlike many firms that provide one-off representation for a given case or transaction, we believe in building long-term relationships with your in-house professionals, whether we are providing valuable advice to members of your legal department, interacting with faculty and staff, or advising the board on strategic initiatives. We are flexible, responsive, and cost-efficient, aiding you through investigations, employment disputes, litigation, accreditation issues, or deals so that you are confident in both the process and the outcome.
Our Colleges & Universities Team includes respected intellectual property lawyers and agents who work with universities and research institutions to protect important technologies in areas like biotechnology, engineering, and pharmaceuticals. If government regulators or accreditors have singled out your institution for investigation, we will protect your interests while conducting a thorough examination of the processes and specifics to reduce the likelihood of future scrutiny.
In project finance, our lawyers have helped more than 40 colleges and universities expand and improve through real estate acquisition and construction. With your planning and goals in mind, we work to properly structure transactions and anticipate problems that could lead to delays.
By taking the long view and focusing on your strategic vision, Alston & Bird’s Colleges & Universities Team produces a seamless experience in any matter.
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.