Education

The multi-disciplinary and experienced Education Team at Womble Bond Dickinson provides strategic and practical counsel to help educational institutions and their service providers meet the increasing business, legal and regulatory challenges they face. 

We understand that the success of an educational institution is reflected in large measure through the accomplishments of its students and the programs in place to support them. Our Education Team provides legal advice and solutions that allow institutions to stay focused on their educational missions. Our clients include public and private institutions, large and small, foundations and supporting organizations, and vendors providing educational services and products. We help clients manage both their legal and reputational risks and strategies. We also assist with developing and implementing new policies, provide internal training programs, conduct investigations and litigate disputes, and advise on regulatory compliance.  

Our lawyers work on financings that help fund colleges and universities, public, traditional and charter schools, and hospitals and educational facilities. In this area, we have experience acting as bond counsel, borrower’s counsel and underwriters/lender counsel.

We serve: 

  • Public and private colleges and universities, including research institutions and academic medical centers
  • Community colleges
  • Pre-K-12 schools, traditional and charter school boards of education, and school administrators
  • Education management organizations and charter management organizations
  • Lenders to educational institutions, and related associations and foundations
What we do
  • Labor and Employment, including litigation, advice and counsel, policy drafting,  training, and internal investigations employment contracts, 409A, employee benefits 
  • Title IX including compliance advice, policy development, training,  independent investigations, hearing panel counsel, and litigation
  • Student Conduct Matters including litigation, ongoing advice, and policy development
  • Privacy and Data Protection (including FERPA, HIPAA, GDPR)
  • Accessibility and accommodations compliance
  • Corporate Governance and structure including related foundations and organizations 
  • Non-profit Taxation, Gifts, Donor Issues
  • Regulatory compliance and litigation arising in research programs, health care, whistleblower, and antitrust areas
  • Study Away program compliance domestically and abroad including state authorization, affiliation agreements,  International Travel Programs
  • Intellectual Property, including prosecution and management of patent, trademark and copyright portfolios; policy development, licensing agreements, and defense of IP rights in litigation or post-grant proceedings 
  • Financing including taxable and tax-exempt bond and USDA financing), leasing, land use, and construction  matters
  • Litigation, arbitration, mediation and alternative dispute resolution arising from the wide range of claims involving educational institutions  
  • Athletics compliance, investigations, coach contracts
  • Immigration including obtaining work authorization and visas for faculty and students 
Examples of work
  • Our U.S. Education Team has been serving as general counsel or primary outside counsel to K-12 schools and institutions of higher education for more than 30 years. Additional U.S. Experience includes: 
  • Represent Education clients in cases on subjects including employment discrimination, tenure denial and faculty dismissal, student discipline, breach of contract, and personal injury.
  • Represented the Board of Governors of The University of North Carolina and its constituent institutions, as well as private colleges and universities, as bond counsel and borrower’s counsel on taxable and tax-exempt financings for campus improvements. 
  • Advise university board of trustees in highly sensitive matters involving enterprise risk management and avoidance of litigation and reputational risk.
  • Assist counties with public school financing through the issuance of bonds and other debt.
  • Manage patent portfolios/filings for research/Tier I institutions.
  • Support primary, secondary and post-secondary schools in the Student and Exchange Visitor Program (SEVP) certification and update processes, addressing SEVIS compliance and Curricular and Optional Practical Training (CPT/OPT) issues and strategic advising on E, L-1, H-1B, TN, O-1, extraordinary ability, outstanding researcher and special handling labor certifications for faculty and administrators.
  • Represented nonprofit board and management company interests in the organization, funding, approval, operation and renewal of public charter schools.
  • Advise private, independent and parochial schools with challenges to corporate governance, data breaches, litigation arising from student and employee conduct.