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Pillsbury’s multidisciplinary Education team represents a wide variety of public and private colleges, universities and academic medical centers. We advise clients in all aspects of their academic affairs, including litigation, employment and tenure, Title IX and other student-focused issues, FERPA, privacy and data protection, medical regulatory compliance, insurance coverage and recovery, construction and land use issues, public-private partnerships, tax, corporate transactions, federal programs, and the licensing, acquisition, transfer and defense of intellectual property assets.
Our extensive experience includes advising on and resolving issues that arise regarding:
Academic Medical Centers
We have deep experience in counseling academic medical centers that operate at a complex intersection of education, patient care and innovative medical research. Our lawyers regularly advise on research activities, intellectual property protection and novel legal and financial issues that can run the gamut from whistleblower allegations involving kickbacks to the increasing risks surrounding big data, cloud computing and HIPAA. Further, we have advised academic medical centers on expanding community outreach, third-party payment and information technology outsourcing, and a variety of other transactions.
Pillsbury has assisted academic institutions in ensuring legal compliance for activities ranging from their provision of student medical and mental health services to the development of processes to lawfully address requirements for disabilities accommodations and the administration of “zero tolerance” policies for students posing significant risks. Further we have provided guidance on matters as diverse as the interplay of FERPA and HIPAA protections of student records to ways to mitigate liability for student inflicted harm, including suicide.
We represent universities and colleges as they increasingly face antitrust scrutiny by the government and civil plaintiffs despite schools’ nonprofit status or philanthropic purposes. Our Antitrust & Competition team regularly represents clients before federal and state antitrust enforcement agencies, and defends them in courts throughout the United States.
Pillsbury’s Appellate team has briefed and argued hundreds of cases in state and federal courts across the United States. We have successfully represented educational institutions on appeal in cases spanning diverse subject matter including student discipline, employment and qui tam actions and have achieved precedent-setting wins with a major impact on our clients’ enterprises.
With one of the most prominent communications practices in the United States, Pillsbury advises numerous noncommercial radio and television stations on music licensing and on the application of various Federal Communications Commission regulations and policies, such as underwriting, sponsorship, Equal Employment Opportunity concerns and ownership changes.
Construction Counseling & Dispute Resolution
Regarded as preeminent in the field for its ability to put troubled projects back on track, Pillsbury’s Construction Counseling & Dispute Resolution team has represented colleges and universities in the planning and construction of health care facilities, a new governmental office, and research and laboratory facilities to be located on private campuses.
Employment & Tenure
We regularly counsel college and university leaders and administrators regarding complex tenure proceedings, employment disputes, reductions in force, personnel policies, employment agreements, and affirmative action programs. We have defended academic institutions in complex wage and hour, discrimination, retaliation, wrongful discharge, Family and Medical Leave Act, and sexual harassment cases. We have also handled OFCCP audits and complaint investigations.
Export & Technology Transfer Controls
Our International Trade practice combines a sophisticated knowledge of U.S. and extraterritorial trade measures with an understanding of the political, policy and diplomatic context in which these measures are implemented. Our International Trade lawyers have advised educational institutions on export control compliance and have provided guidance to companies on export control issues arising out of hiring university professors as consultants.
Our world-renowned, integrated team of global sourcing lawyers and consultants assists colleges, universities and other clients worldwide in planning, execution and managing a wide variety of complex sourcing arrangements, including ones to upgrade their information technology systems. The team members possess the right combination of skills and experience to advise clients throughout the sourcing arrangement’s life cycle—from partner selection through licensing, risk allocation and performance.
Insolvency & Restructuring
Pillsbury has provided guidance to educational institutions when students, families or vendors have encountered financial difficulties and restructuring advice when schools are experiencing financial difficulties. Our lawyers have also advised on an academic medical center’s efforts to acquire hospitals that are in Chapter 11. Pillsbury is defending a university against a claim that tuition payments made by a student’s debtor parents are recoverable fraudulent transfers by establishing that the parents received fair value for the tuition payments.
Insurance Recovery & Advisory
Pillsbury’s market-leading Insurance Recovery & Advisory practice focuses exclusively on representing insurance policyholders. We advise educational institutions on insurance and indemnity programs, rights and obligations in matters including property claims, class actions, medical liability, employment and privacy. From major disasters to devastating cyber-attacks, the group has assisted colleges and universities to recover substantial insurance proceeds.
Real Estate, Land Use and Environmental Law
Pillsbury’s real estate, land use and environmental lawyers advise on all aspects of land acquisition and use, leasing, zoning, development, tax incentives, environmental issues, permits and other matters. We work closely with our education clients as they expand facilities and develop new programs. Our lawyers also work with local government officials to develop long-term plans that recognize the value educational institutions provide to their communities.
IP and Technology Licensing and Transfers
Pillsbury lawyers advise educational institutions in their critical role in the innovation process, helping them protect the results of decades of research and development. We assist clients in creating successful global technology licensing programs and in securing, enforcing and maximizing IP value. We also handle technology transfer and distribution agreements and provide educational institutions with strategies to optimize R&D, commercial collaborations and partnerships while minimizing associated financial risks.
Litigation and Other Forms of Dispute Resolution
With 200+ litigators, Pillsbury handles everything from challenges to student disciplinary actions and government investigations of tenure, promotion and Title IX practices to constitutional challenges involving free speech, religious freedom and a minimum standard of public education, and every type of commercial and employment dispute in between. We offer budget-conscious alternative-fee arrangements and cost-effective solutions to meet our education clients’ goals.
Pillsbury’s Nonprofit Organizations practice lawyers advocate for nonprofit clients of all types and advise on and resolve disputes for them involving the full range of issues they face. Experienced at all stages of an exempt organization’s life, we guide nonprofit educational institutions through formation, obtaining and maintaining exempt status, ongoing compliance reporting and significant events such as reorganizations, audits and dissolutions.
We help our education clients address the legal issues associated with online opportunities and emerging fields such as massive open online courses as internet offerings continue to attract public and private sector interest. Our multidisciplinary team couples institutional knowledge and industry experience to assist educational institutions in navigating intellectual property, privacy, data protection, litigation, tax, and state and federal regulatory issues and challenges.
Planned Giving and Governance
We advise on a variety of development concerns, including grant applications and reports, fundraising campaigns, and financial disclosure and accountability. Our lawyers address complex planned gift-giving issues such as spousal interest waivers, income and transfer-tax deductibility of donated property, and enforceability of pledges. We counsel and assist on everything from simple bequests to gifts of real property, marketable securities, insurance and retirement plan assets, and a host of structured gifts and grants.
Privacy & Data Protection
Pillsbury helps education clients address privacy issues and requirements, develop, augment and update data protection and security policies and procedures, conduct breach investigations and minimize data breach risks. We also advise on all regulatory matters, including compliance with FERPA, HIPAA, HITECH and state law privacy requirements that apply to medical centers and facilities.
Public Policy & Political Law
Our public policy lawyers and professionals practice before the executive and legislative branches of the federal, state and local governments and are well versed in the substance of laws and the process by which laws are initiated, defeated or passed and implemented. Our team includes former members and staff of the U.S. Congress, the White House, and state and executive branch departments and agencies with substantial experience in the field of education.
Public-Private Partnerships/Public-Private Ventures
Pillsbury has been a leader for more than 25 years in helping the public and private sectors collaborate on infrastructure and other projects. Our extensive P3/PPV experience covers many types of projects from academic facilities and laboratory space to campus parking structures, student housing and power stations. Among our strengths is our ability to align the private and public parties’ interests.
Pillsbury transactional and controversy tax lawyers regularly advise educational institutions on federal, state and local tax laws that apply to their operations and investments. We assist nonprofit institutions in structuring their operations to maintain tax-exempt status while maximizing resources; provide tax-planning advice for a broad array of investment activities; advise on charitable giving, employment taxes and foreign and cross-border operations; and handle tax audits and controversies.
Members of our Education team assist educational institutions in responding to Title IX and other sexual misconduct allegations. We have handled several investigations initiated by the Office for Civil Rights (OCR) and have conducted internal investigations of sexual assault, harassment and other misconduct allegations, getting to the bottom of the facts and presenting credible findings to the university and government authorities. We have handled lawsuits challenging the outcomes of Title IX processes.
Unmanned Aircraft Systems, Virtual Worlds & Emerging Technologies
Pillsbury’s internationally recognized, multidisciplinary team is at the forefront in advising on innovative technologies including UASs and virtual worlds. Applying that knowledge and the firm’s experience in advising educational institutions, we navigate our education clients through various intellectual property, privacy and data protection, litigation, tax and regulatory issues, helping them leverage and realize the full potential of evolving technologies in academic research and other areas.
K-12 and Charter Schools
Our Education team provides comprehensive guidance and representation to public and private K-12 schools, and has helped clients establish charter schools.
Achieved a win for a state university, adding a professor and lab assistant as co-inventors on NIH’s Velcade® patents, a cancer drug with annual worldwide sales exceeding $2 billion.
Represented a major academic medical center in successfully resolving class actions seeking statutory damages for the unauthorized disclosure of patient health information by a vendor.
Handled the first California case extending the administrative mandamus requirement to a student disciplinary process, obtaining dismissal of the student’s lawsuit in the trial court and affirmance on appeal.
Our Education lawyers have been recognized for their unparalleled experience and superior client service in: