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Educational institutions have evolved into intricate business enterprises, and each has a myriad of commercial dealings. The legal issues facing educators, students, and the administrators of educational institutions are diverse and vary in complexity.

With their depth of knowledge and experience in education law and policy, the attorneys at LeClairRyan are positioned to handle the scope of legal issues facing today's colleges and universities. Our firm's attorneys have worked extensively with leading public and private facilities across the nation.

Our distinctive strengths include:

  • Title IX, CLERY and related statutory compliance 
  • Patent prosecution and issuance
  • The commercialization of academic inventions
  • Employment counseling and litigation
  • Tenure and promotion issues
  • Student rights, disciplinary and discrimination policies
  • FERPA and other privacy concerns
  • Higher education governance
  • Ethics restrictions on faculty use of university resources
  • Real estate acquisitions and sales
  • Construction disputes
  • Contractual issues

Our attorneys possess a depth of experience related to academic institutions within their particular area of practice, working collaboratively to protect your organization's best interests.

Representative Matters

  • Select Representations & Litigation on Behalf of Institutions of Higher Education
    • Represented universities with respect to Title IX claims asserted by students alleged to have been sexually assaulted on campus
    • Conducted extensive training and education seminars for university administrators and faculty regarding Title IX compliance and investigations
    • Defended private colleges and universities in wrongful discharge, denial of tenure and discrimination suits
    • Ongoing general representation as outside counsel on employment and labor matters including audits of personnel policies and practices, FMLA, disability accommodation, affirmative action plans, EEO and FLSA compliance audits for various colleges and universities
    • Jury verdict in favor of university, university dean, and faculty sued by instructor for discrimination and retaliation due to his religion and national origin
    • Provide in-house training for public and private colleges and universities on exempt/non-exempt classification of employees, discrimination and harassment in the workplace, FMLA compliance and other employment-related issues
    • Regularly advise human resource administrators on full spectrum of employment law issues
    • Negotiated and prepared employment contracts for college presidents and other senior officers
    • Summary judgment in favor of university in race discrimination and breach of contract lawsuit brought by student who was dismissed on academic grounds
    • Successfully defended numerous employment discrimination claims at agency level including public hearings and findings of lack of probable cause to proceed against university
    • Defended university, university athletic trainer and nurse practitioner in personal injury lawsuit concerning catastrophic brain injury sustained by university football player
    • Regularly advise college risk managers and public safety officers
    • Developed policies regarding the presence and treatment of minors present on campus
    • Developed background check policy for university employees
    • Developed policies concerning the disclosure of education records under FERPA
    • Counsel university administrators regarding student requests for accommodations
    • Counsel university faculty and administrators regarding student grade appeals and dismissal of students for academic and disciplinary reasons
  • Academic Inventions and Intellectual Property
    • Represent university technology transfer clients in their intellectual property matters, including the procurement of U.S. and foreign patents, licensing of university-owned technology, reexamination and reissue of patents, and patent litigation. Patent work encompasses a variety of different technology areas, including computer software and hardware, internet and electronic commerce, business methods, communications, semiconductor technologies, electrical, electromechanical, optical, medical related technologies, clean energy technologies, microfluidics, MEMS, and other mechanical disciplines
    • Represent university clients in post issuance practice matters, such as oppositions, reexaminations, reissues and interferences involving their patent applications
    • Negotiate licensing agreements and defend university intellectual property matters
    • Represented consortium of major research universities in biotechnology transfer licensing dispute
    • Successful patent infringement defense of university clients to infringement claims made by a non-practicing entity related to distance learning applications
    • Advised state university faculty members on academic inventions, including disclosure obligations, ownership and sponsored research
    • Negotiated agreements for the out-licensing of university-developed patents and know-how and advised clients regarding the scope of license rights
    • Advised university patent offices in connection with audits of royalty payments due to a public university