Services + Experience
We offer clients advice and guidance on areas such as:
Labor and Employment
Our Labor & Employment Department handles all areas of employment law, including drafting and negotiating employment agreements, employee handbooks, leave policies, benefit plans, and union collective bargaining agreements on behalf of colleges and universities. We also counsel our higher education clients in connection with hiring, background checks, termination issues, and pension plan compliance and defend against claims in these areas.
- Successfully represented a college against claims asserted by a faculty member who challenged his discharge for sexual harassment through the grievance arbitration process and judicial appeals.
- Successfully represented a college in high-profile labor negotiations with full-time faculty, part-time faculty and non-teaching personnel resolving difficult issues concerning wages, health care and governance.
- Provided seminars to clients on various higher education topics, including FERPA, Conflict of Interest Policies, Americans with Disabilities Act, Family Medical Leave Act, Campus Computer Use and Employee Separation Agreements.
Regulatory Issues (Title VI, IX, FERPA, HIPAA)
Our attorneys have worked with clients through issues relating to Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA), to the extent applicable, and the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) and have developed policies satisfying Gramm-Leach Bliley. We provide regular trainings on an array of applicable regulations and update clients on developments in these and other areas affecting students, parents and faculty, including student discipline/expulsion matters, confidentiality/privacy issues, campus security issues, government-sponsored research, accommodation of students with disabilities and Title IX issues.
- Currently representing a university in a Title IX and breach of contract action asserted by a former Ph.D. student who alleges that the university treated him less favorably than female students and forced him to withdraw from the program in violation of the terms of the graduate school handbook.
- Currently representing a university in a Civil Rights Act and Pennsylvania Human Relations Act lawsuit brought by a former contract worker who alleges that campus police excluded her from campus because of her race.
- Achieved dismissal with prejudice for a private university on a visiting professor’s claims that the university discriminated against her because of her disability, age, and sex in violation of Title IX and the PHRA by failing to accommodate her ADD and depression and not renewing her contract.
- Represented a university and its administrators in a Title IX claim brought by a male student disciplined for sexual harassment because of inappropriate comments made to a female student.
Fox Rothschild's Intellectual Property Group obtains, manages, and enforces intellectual property rights on behalf of colleges and universities. We develop patent, copyright and distant learning policies and provide counseling and patentability opinions relating to new products, designs, structures, systems, and methods. Our attorneys also guide clients through due diligence investigations during licensing, acquisitions, and other technology-related transactions to identify and define the scope of the relevant intangible assets.
- Helped establish the licensing program for the famous Dartmouth College name and mark, and have advised the college in copyright and trademark matters since 1980.
- Managed a licensed portfolio of more than 100 biomedical patents for a major public research university. The portfolio includes an award winning patent for world’s first fully resorbable and x-ray visible plastic coronary stent.
- Prosecuted an ivy league university's patent for a nerve regeneration scaffold based on a medical polymer with a patterned coating that promotes the alignment and growth of nerve cells into nerve tissue.
- Structured licensing arrangements between a university and for-profit enterprises.
Capital Projects and Financing
Fox Rothschild's real estate/construction team has extensive higher education experience and can provide representation in connection with any type of capital project, including student centers, chapels, dormitories, eateries and other kinds of buildings. Our team has negotiated every type of project contract (e.g. architects, engineers, construction managers, consultants, contractors and sub-contractors), and we work closely with neighbors and zoning boards to obtain the proper variances and zoning approvals. We have also dealt with procurement issues ranging from retention of professionals to awarding contracts for major construction projects. Our corporate attorneys help colleges and universities navigate issues concerning all types of financing including variable rate debt, interest rate swaps, investment restrictions and other issues. We have provided counsel in connection with dozens of financings for colleges and universities, and that experience helps us protect our clients from increased scrutiny by the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) and Security Exchange Commission (SEC).
- Served as counsel for all legal matters related to the development, construction and expansion of a suburban Philadelphia college campus, including the construction of a student center, advanced technology center and art center.
- Negotiated a PILOT agreement with a prominent urban university for a multimillion dollar research facility.
Litigation and White Collar Compliance And Defense
Fox Rothschild's Litigation attorneys are experienced in obtaining jury and non-jury verdicts defeating claims brought by students and faculty alleging tort, statutory, and breach of contract claims. We routinely represent universities and colleges in connection with OCR investigations and related threatened litigation. Our White-Collar Criminal Defense & Regulatory Compliance attorneys conduct internal investigations for colleges and universities in a variety of areas, including malfeasance by board members, and defend academic institutions and individuals in criminal and related civil matters.
- Conducted an investigation into the operation of a university's student loan program related to the New York State Attorney General's activities.
- Represented a board of trustees in connection with investigation into the president of a prominent university.
- Sought recovery of approximately $14 million from a defendant securities broker and a number of other defendants arising from fraud in the sale of bond anticipation notes sold to educational institutions.
- Prevailed on summary judgment for a private college on a former public safety employee’s claims that she was sexually harassed and discriminated against because of her race and sex after her employment was terminated because she failed to properly investigate a student complaint.
Fox Rothschild's Immigration Practice Group attorneys provide leading-edge representation to higher education institutions in connection with the recruitment and retention of international leaders, staff and professionals. We routinely advise universities and offer training with respect to compliance with all applicable federal and state laws, as well as help establish policies and procedures regarding immigration issues.
- Secured an O-1 visa for a J-1 subject Post-doctoral Fellow.
- Obtained a J-1 waiver for a Professor with “government funding.”
- Successfully filed an H-1B petition for an on Online Learning Instructor.
- Successfully obtained permanent resident status for a university professor conducting cancer research by classifying him as an Outstanding Researcher before his temporary employment authorization expired.
- Secured Special Recruitment PERM Labor Certification for a coach with teaching responsibilities.
- Obtained a Schedule A I-140 approval for nursing instructor with clinical duties.
- Advised university on I-9 compliance issues including policy guidance.
Nonprofit / Tax Representation
Fox Rothschild has a long history of representing nonprofit institutions in general corporate matters as well as in those areas unique to institutions of higher education, such as officer and director liability issues, 501(c)(3) developments, executive compensation, intermediate sanctions, governance, corporate accountability, fundraising regulation, trust administration, tax compliance, and state and local tax developments. We also have substantial experience structuring scholarship programs, loan programs, tuition reimbursement programs and other financial assistance programs.
- Successfully appealed a state agency denial of sales tax exemption for a 501(c)(3) educational foundation.
- Assisted with creating loan reimbursement programs for medical students seeking employment at university-affiliated hospitals.
- Successfully avoided cy press proceedings by renegotiating a scholarship grant agreement on behalf of a university/college.
- Formed university-affiliated nonprofit corporations and obtained tax-exempt status for such entities under Code Sections 501(c)(3) and 509(a)(1), (2) and (3).
- Counseled universities/colleges on their tax classifications as political subdivisions or instrumentalities of the state and how such classifications differ from a traditional Code Section 501(c)(3) organization.
- Counseled universities/colleges on scholarships restricted for students belonging to groups that have been historically discriminated against.
- Counseled development offices on the important of IRS-required written acknowledgement and quid pro quo letters.
Fox Rothschild works closely with Development/Planned Giving Offices of colleges and universities with respect to issues surrounding major gifts and planned giving. We provide advice regarding such planned giving vehicles as charitable trusts, charitable remainder annuity trusts, charitable remainder unitrusts and charitable lead trusts; gifts of life insurance and marketable securities and gifts of complex assets, such as real estate, s-corporation interests and LLC or LP interests. Our attorneys also negotiate terms of restricted gifts and bequests and interpret existing restrictions. We also provide advice regarding terminations of private foundations or donor-advised funds.
- Successfully negotiated and facilitated gifts of cash, stock and real property to universities/colleges and their affiliates.
- Calculated the effects of large contributions on a university’s/college’s public support test calculation or that of its affiliate to determine whether gift should be given to the university/college or its affiliate.
- Assisted individuals with establishing donor advised funds to provide scholarships or benefit universities/colleges.
- Drafted scholarship program guidelines that reflected spending rates, eligibility criteria, selection criteria, renewal criteria, refunding terms and termination rights.
- Formed SO for government-affiliated university to assist with fundraising.