Shipman & Goodwin’s school law attorneys represent leading colleges and universities throughout Connecticut and nationally. We represent higher education clients of all sizes, denominations and philosophies, including public and private colleges and universities, professional schools, medical schools, research universities, and performing and visual arts schools.
We advise our higher education clients on a full range of legal matters, including student issues, faculty issues, governance, finance, government relations, intellectual property, employment and labor relations, real estate, construction, environmental compliance and risk management, taxation, and technology.
In dealing with high-profile and sensitive issues, we recognize the importance of maintaining positive campus morale and reputation management. We strive to anticipate and effectively address any potential collateral consequences of decisions or actions that might have an impact on these important factors. Moreover, our attorneys are experienced in balancing confidentiality issues and Freedom of Information implications (where applicable) when handling high-visibility matters.
Our litigators advocate for our higher education clients on a national level, handling litigation of all types, including employment, collections, criminal investigations of student and faculty conduct, and defense of claims. We have achieved positive results on a number of high-profile cases before state and federal courts, including the U.S. Supreme Court. On behalf of one of our university clients, we successfully defended a result in Connecticut Supreme Court, setting a national precedent as to a donor’s challenge to the use of charitable gifts.
We routinely assist educational institutions in conducting internal investigations and defending against grand jury, legislative and agency investigations. We defend our education clients in a variety of litigation and problem-solving contexts, including sexual harassment and assault, rape, use of force, and public safety issues. For example, we assisted university clients with criminal proceedings arising from an on-campus student riot. We have also addressed situations involving accusations of student substance abuse, sexual assault, and other offenses.
With a robust team of business and finance attorneys and a firm-wide focus on technology- and biotechnology-centric clients, we are able to provide unique insight to colleges and universities with potential interests in spin-off formations, organization, governance or financing. In addition, we regularly advise our university clients, their faculty and technology transfer offices in matters involving sponsored research and consulting agreements.
Employment and Labor Matters
We counsel higher education institutions on the full range of employment matters, including employment policies; employee and student handbooks; classification of employees; employment agreements; discrimination claims such as age, disability, race and sex claims; disciplinary procedures; tenure disputes; and layoffs and terminations. We also represent clients in all areas of labor relations, including union activities, contract negotiation and administration. We have advised clients regarding union-organizing campaigns and representation elections; collective bargaining and impasse-resolution procedures; strikes, lockouts, picketing, and other concerted activity; grievance and arbitration procedures; and defense of unfair labor practice claims.
We represent clients in matters before the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, the Department of Justice, the Office for Civil Rights, the Office of Federal Contract Compliance, the Connecticut Commission on Human Rights and Opportunities, the Connecticut Department of Labor, and the National Labor Relations Board. Our higher education clients also benefit from our experience with immigration law in staff hiring and retention, including the handling of visa applications.
Our attorneys advise higher education clients on best practices for the functioning of boards, bylaws, and conflict-of-interest policies. We counsel clients and their boards on crisis management, including corporate communications, media relations, and student relations. We also have extensive experience assisting colleges and universities with structuring and documenting ombuds programs. Shipman & Goodwin partner Chuck Howard authored the leading treatise on organizational ombuds, The Organizational Ombudsman, and has a national practice representing organizational ombuds at colleges and universities.
Intellectual Property Matters
Our attorneys have handled a variety of intellectual property matters for a range of higher education clients across the country, including software contract negotiations; copyright counseling; intellectual property assignment/licensing agreements; trademark licensing, registration and counseling; data privacy counseling; research and consulting agreements; faculty inventions; commercialization of technology developed at the institution; non-compete agreements and non-disclosure issues; internet, e-mail and social media issues, and website development.
Real Estate, Environmental and Construction
Our real estate attorneys advise higher education clients on a variety of matters, including the acquisition, development and management of property; planning and zoning; conveyancing; and leasing. Our construction attorneys assist our clients with respect to projects including academic buildings, dormitories, dining facilities, and athletic facilities. In addition, we represent educational institutions on a wide range of energy/clean energy projects.
Our environmental, health and safety attorneys assist higher education clients with environmental, health and safety regulatory compliance; environmental permitting; financing; environmental insurance and risk management in construction matters; and business and real estate transactions.
We have broad experience with the regulatory aspects of contaminated properties, and we have extensive experience with site assessments, environmental auditing, reporting, record keeping and other compliance obligations under various programs governing asbestos, lead, PCBs, mold and other environmental, health and safety issues.
Professional Development and Training
We conduct regular on-site professional development and training workshops on a variety of legal issues and matters of concern, including:
For more information and to schedule an on-site training, visit our Professional Development and Training Workshops page.