Liz Riley is a connector, problem solver and relationship builder. She has decades of experience addressing the diverse and changing legal needs of clients in school administration and higher education. With a foundation in business litigation, Liz has evolved as a practical business adviser and risk manager, counseling her clients on issues ranging from data privacy and cybersecurity to school policy and regulatory compliance. A member of the firm's Privacy and Cybersecurity Team, Liz helps clients navigate the changing legal landscape of collecting, managing, sharing and analyzing data.  

Across the education law spectrum, Liz provides intuitive support and advice for school managers, college administrators and governing boards alike. She works regularly on matters involving auxiliary/branch or international college campus sites, including state authorization requirements for degree-granting programs. She has experience assisting with the organization, accreditation, licensure and chartering of new schools, as well as renewals and restructuring. Liz often counsels institutions as they partner with outside providers and works with third-party entities that provide services and research support to schools.

Civic and Professional Activities

Civic Activities

  • Independent College Fund of North Carolina, Board Member, 2013 – Present 
  • North Carolina Governor’s School Task Force, 2011 – 2012 

Professional Activities

  • National Association of College and University Attorneys, Institutional Representative Member, 1990 – Present 
  • North Carolina State Bar Association: Education Law Section, 1987 – Present (Chair and Executive Council, 1999 – 2001) 
  • National School Boards Association
  • North Carolina Council of School Attorneys
  • Mississippi State Bar Association


  • “The Impact of GDPR on US Colleges and Universities,” North Carolina Independent Colleges and Universities, December 19, 2018.
  • “NC Campus Police Cameras: Law Enforcement Agency Recordings under N.C.G.S. § 132-1.4A,” Webinar, November 15, 2016.
  • “Trending Campus Legal Risks,” and “Minors on Campus,” North Carolina Independent Colleges and Universities, November 9, 2016.
  • “Clery Act Update: Changes in the 2016 Handbook for Campus Safety and Security Reporting,” Webinar, September 22, 2016.
  • “Protecting Minors on Campus: Obligations, Policies, Procedures, and Best Practices,” National Association of College and University Attorneys, January 2012.
  • “Legal Updates for College and University Administrators,” North Carolina Independent Colleges and Universities Annual Presentation(s), 2010-2016.
  • “10 Pitfalls and Governance Mistakes That Can Cause Trouble for Charter School Boards – and the Best Practices to Help Avoid Them,” October 2011.
  • “Campus Threat Assessments,” National Association of College and University Attorneys, June 2010.
  • “Understanding and Applying FERPA and HIPAA Laws to Student Health Records,” Council of Campus Health Professionals, March 2009.

Honors and Awards

  • Recognized in Business North Carolina magazine's Legal Elite, Construction, 2020 
  • Recognized in The Best Lawyers in America (BL Rankings), Real Estate Law, 2015 – Present
  • Recognized in Business North Carolina magazine’s Legal Elite, Construction Law, 2016


Any result the lawyer or law firm may have achieved on behalf of clients in other matters does not necessarily indicate similar results can be obtained for other clients.

  • Outside counsel to institutions of higher education for over thirty years. Risk management, governance, international study, land and facilities use and protection; administration adviser and confidant; financial aid and funding; licensure and accreditation.
  • Chartering of new schools and continuous operational support through opening, expansion, renewal and review processes.
  • Navigation of state authorization issues for degree-granting institutions, both inbound to North Carolina and outbound to other states.
  • Support to education associations, industry support groups and consults. 
  • Cross-institutional affiliations, articulation arrangements and innovation in providing educational programs and services in a highly-regulated and compliance-sensitive environment.