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Higher Education

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Baker Donelson's Higher Education Group has extensive experience advising colleges and universities on the legal issues unique to them. Our team, comprised of more than 30 attorneys, advises colleges, universities and academic medical centers throughout the United States.

Featured Videos

Managing University Patents: Discussion of Legal Issues Commonly Faced by University Administrators June 20, 2017
Playing on Both Ends of the Field: Athletics Strategic Planning to Achieve Offensive Goals and Legal Compliance May 31, 2017
How Trump's Travel Ban May Impact the Health Care, Higher Education and Tech Industries February 28, 2017
Privacy and Data Security: Hot Topics for Higher Education Institutions November 14, 2016
The NLRB's Assault on Higher Education: How to Prepare for Union Organizing October 18, 2016
Transgender Rights on Campus September 20, 2016

Featured Experience

Successfully settled multi-million dollar litigation suit for a local university against allegations of water intrusion in a dormitory.

Negotiated various research and development agreements and patent and technology licenses with major universities and private companies for U.S. and foreign clients in the agricultural biotechnology, software and mechanical arts areas.

Conducted Title IX sexual misconduct training, counseled schools on individual cases and investigations, and assisted with drafting Title IX policies and procedures.

Industry Overview

Overview

Baker Donelson's Higher Education Group has extensive experience advising colleges and universities on the legal issues unique to them. Our team, comprised of more than 30 attorneys, advises colleges, universities and academic medical centers throughout the United States.

Strategic advice. We work to understand each school's unique goals and culture to help it address legal issues cohesively with its objectives and budgetary realities. We collaborate on strategic planning initiatives, including developing risk management and litigation avoidance strategies and optimizing alternative revenue streams.

Title IX. We collaborate with institutions on Title IX audits and compliance reviews regarding athletics and sexual misconduct matters, investigate Title IX issues as independent counsel, defend against Title IX litigation and federal Office for Civil Rights investigations, draft and train on student and employee sexual misconduct policies and draft Clery Act and other federally-mandated reports.

College athletics. Our lawyers have particular strength in addressing legal issues related to college athletics. Nearly 60 firm lawyers were varsity student athletes in college, and several worked on campus as legal and athletic administrators, faculty and board members. We advise college athletic departments from Division I to Division III, including six with current national championship programs, on NCAA and Title IX compliance strategies, privileged strategic planning initiatives and litigation. 

Real estate, public finance and construction. We advise on a full range of real estate and construction matters, including bond and USDA loan financing, and we litigate construction issues.

Intellectual property. Attorneys on our team advise on securing and defending patents, trademarks, copyrights and trade secrets. We provide guidance on merchandising and branding related to athletic trademarks and logos, technology licensing and securing licensing related to name/image/likeness rights.

Labor and employment. We draft, counsel and train on employment procedures and policies. We conduct audits for wage and hour, ERISA, whistleblowing and restrictive covenant compliance. We conduct internal investigations and defend schools in employment litigation, including a full range of discrimination, retaliation and breach of contract claims. We advise on union avoidance, collective bargaining negotiations and administrative grievances.

Student discipline. Members of our team update policies and student handbooks, advise on Title IX issues and litigate student discipline issues.

Immigration. We advise on immigration issues affecting foreign nationals employed by and attending colleges and universities, including visas, work authorization and permanent residence.

Privacy and information security. Lawyers on our team advise on FERPA, HIPAA, data security/breach, privacy and social media issues.

Tax. We advise on non-profit taxation and governance, retirement plans, trusts and estates, donor issues and 409A issues.

Health care. Our attorneys serve as outside general counsel to several medical academic programs and affiliated health schools, provide guidance on the Affordable Care Act and assist with reimbursement, audits, compliance, investigations, employment, medical staff peer review and credentialing.

Representative Matters
  • Successfully settled multi-million dollar litigation suit for a local university against allegations of water intrusion in a dormitory.

  • Negotiated various research and development agreements and patent and technology licenses with major universities and private companies for U.S. and foreign clients in the agricultural biotechnology, software and mechanical arts areas.

  • Conducted Title IX sexual misconduct training, counseled schools on individual cases and investigations, and assisted with drafting Title IX policies and procedures.

  • Worked collaboratively with schools on the legal aspects of their strategic planning initiatives, including developing risk management and litigation avoidance strategies.

  • Counseled schools on legal public relations issues unique to college athletic programs.

  • Lead external due diligence reviews and constructed legal and Title IX compliance strategies related to NCAA governance issues and changing conference affiliations.

  • Defended and advised schools on NCAA compliance matters.

  • Defended a public university research foundation against a qui tam action alleging fraud in the procurement of research grants.

  • Obtained tax exempt status for a university supporting organization engaged in developing a research park and advised client with respect to unrelated business taxable income.

  • Defended a university researcher in a federal grant fraud prosecution alleging the filing of false federal claims.

  • Served as bond counsel for the issuance of tax-exempt qualified 501(c)(3) bonds in the principal amount of $32 million, the proceeds of which were loaned to a private university for the construction of new facilities.

  • Served as bond counsel for the issuance of tax-exempt qualified 501(c)(3) bonds in the principal amount of $10 million, the proceeds of which were loaned to a private college for the construction of new facilities.

  • Served as bond counsel for the conversion of a letter of credit supported qualified 501(c)(3) bond to self-liquidity mode for a private university.

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