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Higher Education

Higher education clients are unique and have special needs. We recognize the distinctive experience necessary to serve clients in this sector and have a team that possesses a deep understanding of their legal, regulatory and business needs. Our active membership in the National Association of College and University Attorneys demonstrates the team’s commitment to our clients’ needs in this industry. Members of the higher education team are experienced in a broad range of legal areas including: student affairs and compliance issues, intellectual property counseling and litigation, faculty issues, employment, labor, immigration and employee benefits issues, real estate transactions, contract review and drafting, construction contract review, drafting and litigation, commercial litigation, facility clearance processing and communications.
We work with general counsel as well as clients that do not have in-house attorneys. We represent all sizes and types of clients including large research institutions with international campuses, historically black colleges, and small liberal arts schools.

Student Affairs and Compliance
Increasing government regulations require colleges and universities to ensure they are taking adequate steps to remain in compliance with a wide range of federal and state laws and regulations including Title IX/sexual harassment/sexual violence, the Clery Act, The Violence Against Women Act, the First Amendment, the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA), Title IV, Title VII, and student financial aid issues.

Our team helps universities and colleges put the resources and processes in place to conduct fair investigations as required by the latest guidance and regulations under Title IX, the Clery Act, the Violence Against Women Act and Department of Education guidelines. The services we provide include the following:

  • Working cooperatively with clients to review, audit and revise policies and procedures to comply with regulatory requirements of the Department of Education and other government agencies;
  • Providing training on legal and regulatory requirements;
  • Reviewing/updating student handbooks;
  • Counseling on student discipline; 
  • Investigating allegations of student misconduct; including but not limited to allegations of sexual violence;
  • Advising on compliance with FERPA; and
  • Advising regarding how to address student requests for accommodations under Title IX.
Faculty Affairs
The services we provide in this area include the following:

  • Review and revise tenure policies and faculty handbooks;
  • Create post-tenure review procedures;
  • Develop strategies to avoid litigation over faculty evaluations, discipline and termination, including investigations into allegations of faculty misconduct, as well as voluntary early retirement programs for faculty and staff.

Employment, Labor and Immigration
Our lawyers have a great depth of experience in addressing all aspects of personnel and employment law issues. This includes defending colleges and universities against all types of discrimination and wrongful discharge claims. We regularly address Title VII and Title IX claims, wage and hour, Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA), workers’ compensation/disability, OSHA, Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), Family and Medical Leave issues and all other types of employment issues.
 
Our labor attorneys handle the following traditional labor matters for universities and colleges:

  • Union organizing campaigns of adjunct faculty, maintenance employees and other units;
  • NLRB unfair labor practice charges and hearings;
  • NLRB representation hearings regarding proper unit scope and eligibility formulas for voting faculty;
  • Union contract negotiations;
  • Drafting policies and procedures compliant with current NLRB law and guidance; and
  • Creating, coordinating and conducting training of university leadership regarding union organizing campaigns and NLRB law and procedure.

AT lawyers regularly partner with university staff to conduct seminars and training sessions (e.g., on issues such as discrimination/harassment, proper documentation and evaluation, conducting internal investigations) as part of the practice group’s emphasis on providing preventive advice.

Immigration services include planning for and obtaining temporary visas and permanent residence status for employees and providing advice regarding issues that arise with foreign students. We also have extensive experience in obtaining U.S. permanent residence status for universities on behalf of their employees by obtaining labor certification from the U.S. Department of Labor under the regular PERM process and the special handling process made available to universities and colleges for petitioning the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Service to classify individuals as outstanding researchers and those with extraordinary abilities.

Intellectual Property Advice and Litigation
For six consecutive years, Armstrong Teasdale has been listed among the nation’s “Top Patent” and “Top Trademark” firms by Intellectual Property Today. Our team of professionals has graduate technical degrees in chemical, biotech, electrical, computer science, and mechanical areas. We are involved in preparing and prosecuting patent applications, enforcing copyrights, trademarks, and patents, conducting patentability, non-infringement, and validity opinions, and handling licensing matters. Some of the world’s leading companies have chosen Armstrong Teasdale to develop and manage their patent portfolios, run due diligence studies, and provide infringement consultation, defense and enforcement services.

Our intellectual property attorneys work with universities and their affiliated entities to support their technology acquisition and transfer needs. This includes not only preparing and prosecuting patent applications, but also preparing and enforcing licenses and related documents necessary to allow our higher education clients to protect and profit from the technology they develop.

Tax-Exempt Bond Financing for Educational Facilities
The firm’s public finance lawyers serve as bond counsel, borrower's counsel, underwriter’s counsel and disclosure counsel on hundreds of millions of dollars in bonds for public and private colleges and universities. Recent significant matters include bond financings for Missouri State University, Missouri Southern State University, Southeast Missouri State University, and Stephens College.

Following the bond closing, we can bring our tax experience to bear should our clients need to navigate an IRS audit. We also assist with ongoing securities law disclosure requirements known as “continuing disclosure” for clients’ tax-exempt bonds.

Commercial Litigation
The firm’s business litigators have been recognized locally and nationally for their successful results and have been quoted in the New York Times, Wall Street Journal and other major publications. They have backgrounds in diverse areas including intellectual property, employment, products liability, insurance, construction, health care and white collar criminal defense.

To avoid the cost of litigation whenever possible, our business litigation lawyers have a well-earned reputation for identifying and aggressively pursuing mediated outcomes or alternative dispute resolutions to serve the clients’ best interests when appropriate. When litigation is necessary, our litigators have the depth of experience and skill necessary to handle federal and state jury trials, bench trials, arbitrations, and administrative and regulatory proceedings for any dispute.

Privacy and data security are risk areas for institutions of higher education. Breaches can result from skilled hacking or a simple lost USB drive or laptop. Our attorneys provide a broad range of services to many campus leaders on the formulation and implementation of policies regarding research integrity and computer security as well as risk assessment, data breach planning and data breach response services. With both Certified Information Privacy Professionals and Certified Ethical Hackers, we understand the wide array and student, faculty, health and institutional needs involved with data available on campus.

Governance 
Our team is also experienced in providing counsel to boards of directors, regents and trustees, along with board committees and individual officers and directors of higher education institutions. The matters that we handle include the following:

  • Board structure and composition
  • Drafting of bylaws
  • Duties of independent board chair or independent lead director
  • Board committees structure and composition and board committee charters
  • Enterprise risk identification and risk management
  • Codes of Ethics
  • Fiduciary duty

Industrial Security/Facility Clearances for Research Labs and Universities
Armstrong Teasdale attorneys are familiar with the applicable regulations and the appropriate national and local government offices to establish the proper clearance for research labs, universities, and professors. Our attorneys guide universities and research labs through the process of obtaining a facility clearance (FCL) under the National Industrial Security Program (NISP). We assist the institution’s leadership with individual clearance issues such as foreign travel, speaking abroad, and other issues that may raise security concerns given the nature of research and teaching institutions. We advise on the regulations pertaining to obtaining sponsorship, help with the completion of all necessary documents, and assist with development and implementation of internal security operating procedures that are tailored to the academic environment.

Donor Bequests and Philanthropic Giving
Our attorneys assist colleges and universities and their donors in establishing charitable trusts and represent institutions in probate proceedings, if necessary, to collect and obtain charitable bequests and gifts. We also advise colleges and universities regarding use of funds to benefit the institution, and the governance decisions concerning categorizing and using restricted or unrestricted funds according to applicable law. 

Representative Clients
University and college clients that we represent include, but are not limited to:

  • Aquinas Institute of Theology
  • Hastings College
  • Missouri Southern State University
  • Ranken Technical College
  • Saint Louis University
  • Southeast Missouri State University
  • University of Mississippi
  • Webster University
  • Wisconsin Alumni Research Foundation

Questions? Contact one of our Higher Education attorneys.