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Independent Schools

Our school law attorneys use a proactive approach to counsel our more-than-30 independent school clients, including boarding and day schools, Montessori schools, Waldorf schools and religiously affiliated schools.

We have been Counsel to the Connecticut Association of Independent Schools for over 20 years, representing many of its member schools directly in a wide range of legal issues such as student admissions and discipline, faculty relations, fund development and charitable giving, mandated reporting, real property tax exemption, corporate governance, finance, environmental land use and a wide variety of litigation and labor issues.

Our attorneys understand the complex issues and the unique nature of the independent school environment, including all aspects of boarding school communities. As a full-service law firm, we provide integrated counsel and support on matters of particular interest and importance to our independent school clients, in a timely and cost-effective manner. Our work with independent schools includes matters related to:

  • ADA accommodations and claims
  • Admissions and enrollment
  • Business contracts (enrollment and others)
  • Charitable giving and contributions
  • Crisis management
  • Cybersecurity and data breaches
  • Discrimination, harassment, bullying and hazing
  • Employment matters
  • Faculty and student relations
  • Governance policies
  • Housing matters
  • Immigration
  • Intellectual property
  • International travel/field trips
  • Investments
  • Investigations
  • Mandated reporting
  • Pension and employee benefits
  • Real estate, environmental and construction
  • Risk management
  • Criminal matters
  • Sexual harassment
  • Social media
  • Student conduct
  • Student discipline
  • Student health issues
  • Student, faculty, and employee handbooks and policies
  • Student safety
  • Tax and tax-exempt status
  • Trustee confidentiality agreements
  • Uniform Prudent Management of Institutional Funds Act (UPMIFA)

We conduct regular on-site professional development and training workshops on a variety of legal issues and matters of concern, including:

  • ADA and Accommodations
  • Bullying, Harassment and Mandated Reporting 
  • Data Privacy, Security and Regulatory Compliance
  • Legislative Updates
  • Sexual Harassment Prevention
  • Social Media Use by Students and Faculty
  • Confidentiality and Student Information
  • Student and Faculty Misconduct and Professional Boundaries
  • Enrollment Contracts
  • Risk Assessment and Management
  • Student Trips and Travel

For more information and to schedule an on-site training, visit our Professional Development and Training Workshops page.

Faculty and Student Matters
Our attorneys understand the unique relationship between faculty and students at independent schools.  We are experienced in providing practical and legal advice on the range of issues that schools face on a daily basis, including issues relating to professional boundaries, student health, confidentiality, student disciplinary matters, sexual harassment and bullying, and mandated reporting.  In addition, we routinely assist our school clients in developing legally compliant handbooks, and counsel on compliance with laws affecting faculty and students, such as the ADA and other civil rights laws. 

Critical to the operation of independent schools is the proper functioning of their boards. We routinely advise boards on best practices in governance and policy development, including review of bylaws and conflict of interest policies.  We are frequently asked to provide counsel and assistance on crisis management, including communications, media relations, and community response.

Labor and Employment
Employment issues at independent schools can be complex, given the varied and multiple roles of faculty and staff.  Our attorneys are exceptionally experienced on advising our schools on the full range of employment matters, from hiring practices and employment policies, to handbooks, proper employee classification, contracts, employee discipline and terminations.  Schools rely on us to handle all aspects of employment disputes from administrative proceedings to litigation in state and federal court.  In addition, our pension and employee benefits attorneys provide our independent school clients with specialized advice with respect to all aspects of employee benefits, as well as executive compensation and similar matters.

Finance, Investments, Taxation and Tax-Exemption
Our attorneys advise our independent school clients on all their finance matters, including tax-exempt financing through the State of Connecticut Health and Educational Facilities Authority.  We assist with federal, state and local tax compliance and taxation issues involving charitable giving, as well advise on financial issues that relate to scholarship and tuition remission programs, tax-exempt status, unrelated business taxable income, employee housing, Head of School compensation, sales and use tax exposure, and real and personal property tax exemptions.

We have comprehensive experience with the management and compliance of endowment funds and investments. Shipman & Goodwin partner Barry Hawkins served as the Chairman of the Uniform Law Commission that drafted the Uniform Prudent Management of Institutional Funds Act (UPMIFA) and conducts a national practice on UPMIFA compliance.  As such, the firm’s depth in the area of endowment funds and investments is unique.

Real Estate 
Our independent school clients frequently rely on us to provide legal representation on a variety of real estate matters, including the acquisition, development and management of property, planning and zoning, conveyancing, leasing, environmental compliance, and risk management.

Intellectual Property
Our intellectual property attorneys advise clients on sophisticated issues, such as trademarks, licensing and registration, copyright infringement, and data privacy counseling.  We counsel independent schools in the areas of software contract negotiation, consulting agreements, internet, e-mail and social media issues, and website development. 


Laurann Asklof
(860) 251-5317
Hartford Office
Donna L. Brooks
(860) 251-5917
Hartford Office
Raymond J. Casella
(860) 251-5808
Hartford Office
Christine L. Chipman
(860) 251-5048
Hartford Office
Bruce A. Chudwick
(860) 251-5114
Hartford Office
Brian Clemow
Of Counsel
(860) 251-5711
Hartford Office
Richard I. Cohen
(860) 251-5803
Hartford Office
Leander A. Dolphin
(860) 251-5086
Hartford Office
Brenda A. Eckert
(860) 251-5712
Hartford Office
Julie C. Fay
(860) 251-5009
Hartford Office
Danielle P. Ferrucci
(860) 251-5105
Hartford Office
Old Lyme Office
Gabriel J. Jiran
(860) 251-5520
Hartford Office
Anne H. Littlefield
(860) 251-5715
Hartford Office
Peter J. Murphy
(860) 251-5950
Hartford Office
Jessica L. Ritter
(860) 251-5034
Hartford Office
William J. Roberts
(860) 251-5051
Hartford Office
Morgan Paul Rueckert
Hartford Office
Joseph P. Williams
(203) 836-2804
New Haven Office
Hartford Office
Linda L. Yoder
(860) 251-5717
Hartford Office
Gwen J. Zittoun
(860) 251-5523
Hartford Office


December 18, 2020  With COVID-19 Vaccines Finally Arriving, Employers Must Ask and Answer Difficult Questions
December 1, 2020  Important Notice about EPA Compliance & Enforcement Regarding Ammonia Refrigeration at Ice Rinks
November 23, 2020  Governor Lamont Mandates New Rules for Sports Amid Surge in COVID-19 Transmission Rates
September 21, 2020  Governor Lamont Issues New Executive Order Allowing Testing Alternative to Self-Quarantine Following Travel
September 16, 2020  Political Issues on Independent School Campuses
September 16, 2020  Following Court Ruling, DOL Clarifies Rules for FFCRA Intermittent Leave and Documentation Requirements
August 11, 2020  Is it Health Care or Not? Considerations for Independent Schools Exploring "Non-therapeutic" Remote Programs
August 4, 2020  Safety, Health & Environmental Considerations for School Reopenings
June 8, 2020  Connecticut Nonstock Corporations Temporarily Allowed To Conduct Member Meetings Remotely
May 21, 2020  CDC Publishes New Guidelines for Reopening Schools
May 14, 2020  New Guidance on the Paycheck Protection Program For Small Businesses
April 27, 2020  New Coronavirus Relief Bill Replenishes SBA's Paycheck Protection Program
April 13, 2020  FAQs for Independent Schools Considering a Loan Under the Paycheck Protection Program of the CARES Act
March 5, 2020  Prevention and Response: Planning for Coronavirus in Independent Schools
February 28, 2020  DCF's Education Professional Investigation Unit (EPIU) Is Finally Here!
February 4, 2020  Coronavirus: Guidance for Schools
January 27, 2020  Pay Attention to the Truth in Lending Act When Offering Tuition Payment Plans
October 24, 2019  Considering Artificial Turf? Pause for PFAS First
October 10, 2019  National Ombudsman Day
July 24, 2019  Important Case Update Regarding University Title IX Investigations
May 8, 2019  Measles Outbreak and Implications for Connecticut Schools
April 17, 2019  "Varsity Blues:" Lessons To Be Learned From The Admissions Scandal
December 17, 2018  Changes Proposed to Title IX Regulations Governing Sexual Harassment
November 8, 2018  Federal Excise Taxes on Executive Compensation
May 23, 2018  Massachusetts' Supreme Court Finds Colleges May Face Liability for Student Suicide Under Certain Circumstances
May 8, 2018  The GDPR is Coming: Keep Calm and Plan
March 21, 2018  Connecticut Bankruptcy Court Rejects Claw Back of Parent Plus Loan Proceeds
March 20, 2018  NAIS and TABS Task Force Issue Final Report on Educator Sexual Misconduct
February 21, 2018  Second Circuit Upholds Ruling in Munn v. Hotchkiss
September 29, 2017  Private Schools Defeat Clawback Claim by Chapter 7 Trustee
September 25, 2017  U.S. Department of Education Withdraws Prior Title IX Guidance and Issues Interim Guidance on Sexual Misconduct
August 2017  Firm Attorneys Published in Legal Resource for School Health Services
August 14, 2017  Connecticut Supreme Court Issues Decision in Munn v. Hotchkiss
July 6, 2017  Connecticut Independent Schools Required to Perform Background Checks on Potential Employees Effective July 1, 2017
April 18, 2017  Mandated Reporting and Professional Boundaries: Important Training for Faculty and Staff
December 12, 2016  Guide for 401(k) and 403(b) Plan Administrators
November 14, 2016  Ban the Box, But Do Your Due Diligence
March 10, 2016  The Test for Independent Contractors and Unemployment Taxes Made Friendlier
March 2, 2016  The Complaint Over Lunch With the Boss As Protected Activity
June 24, 2015  New Prohibitions on Discrimination for Unpaid Interns
March 13, 2015  Government Group Scrutinizing Policies at Campuses
January 26, 2015  Educational Institutions Face Heightened Scrutiny
January 23, 2015  Looking a Gift Horse in the Mouth
November 24, 2014  Ebola Guidance for Schools: Focusing on the Basics
September 2013  Tips for Writing Student Handbooks


January 14, 2021  Webinar: EPA Compliance Assurance and Enforcement Initiative Regarding Ammonia Refrigeration at Ice Rinks
December 7-10, 2020   2020 TABS Annual Virtual Conference
November 23, 2020  Connecticut Conference of Independent Colleges (CCIC) 2020 Virtual Annual Member Forum
October 21, 2020  CAIS Annual Conference on Business & Operations
July 16, 2020  Webinar: Planning for Reopening Schools and School Facilities During the COVID-19 Pandemic
April 23, 2020  Webinar: Compliance Considerations of Federal Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) Loans
December 5-7, 2019  2019 TABS Conference
November 14, 2019  United Educators Risk Management Forum, Nutmeg Group: The Nuts and Bolts of Handbooks for Independent Schools
October 29, 2019  Webinar: GDPR and Educational Institutions - Where We've Been, and Where We Are Now
October 23, 2019  22nd Annual CHA Statewide Conference
October 17, 2019  Webinar: Anonymous Reporting and Electronic Monitoring: Useful Tools or Potential Minefields for Schools?
October 1, 2019  Webinar: Legal Check-Up: Student Health Issues
September 21, 2019  2019 CAIS Annual Conference on Governance
April 23, 2019  On the Front Lines: Raising Awareness of Child Trafficking and Exploitation in Connecticut's Schools - Hartford
February 26, 2019  Webinar: The Nuts and Bolts of Student Handbooks for Independent Schools
November 20, 2018  CEN Education and Development Advisory Council Workshop
November 1, 2018   2018 AISNE Governance Conference
October 18-19, 2018  2018 NAIS-TABS Legal Symposium
October 3, 2018  Webinar: Hot Topics in Environmental and Renewable Energy Law for Independent Schools
June 15, 2018  The FMLA: Challenges for Independent Schools
May 1, 2018  CAIS Annual Conference on Business, Legal and Facilities Affairs
April 18, 2018  What Independent Schools Need to Know About EUGDPR
April 3, 2018  Independent School Webinar: Safeguarding Data - Developing a School Data Privacy and Security Program
February 23, 2018  Hot Topics in Environmental, Construction and Renewable Energy
November 30 - December 2, 2017  2017 TABS Annual Conference
November 2, 2017  AISNE 2017 Governance Conference
October 3, 2017  Webinar: Mandated Reporting in Connecticut - Understanding Legal Obligations and Best Practice
September 23, 2017  2017 CAIS Annual Conference on Governance
September 13, 2017  Webinar: A Legal Primer: Tax and Charitable Giving for Independent Schools
August 22, 2017  Connecticut Independent Schools Employment Law: Background Check Requirements
June 28, 2017  CLE Event: Webinar: The Lender Asked for What? Understanding Loan Documents From the Borrower's Perspective
March 29, 2017  United Educators Nutmeg Group/CAIS Risk Management Forum: Independent School Medical Issues
February 15, 2017  Webinar: The Essential Guide for 401(k) and 403(b) Plan Administrators for Independent Schools
October 14, 2016  2016 NAIS-TABS Legal Symposium: Student Discipline in the Cyber-Age
June 14, 2016  Transgender Issues in Independent Schools
March 31, 2016  United Educators Risk Management Forum, Nutmeg Group: Legal Perspectives on Social Media
March 31, 2016  The Intersection of Sports and Education Law
March 28, 2016  Drawing the Line: Legal Issues and Professional Boundaries in Independent Schools
February 24 – 26, 2016  2016 NAIS Annual Conference
November 12 - 13, 2015  2015 CAIS Annual Conference for Heads of School
November 10, 2015  United Educators Risk Management Forum, Cranberry Group: Sexual Misconduct in Independent Schools
October 16, 2015  Drawing the Line: Respect, Boundaries and the Law in Independent Schools
September 26, 2015  Update on Current Legal Issues for Independent Schools
August 31, 2015  Sexual Harassment Prevention Training for Independent Schools
August 31, 2015  Mandated Reporting Training
July 13, 2015  Cyberbullying and Social Media in Independent Schools
May 13, 2015  Webinar: Top Tips for Accommodations under the ADA - Who's Ready for Summer Camp?
April 14, 2015  Hot Topics and Legal Trends in Independent Schools
November 4, 2016  Cyberbullying and Social Media in Independent Schools
November 3, 2014  Bullying and Social Media: Understanding the Challenges and Consequences for Students
October 11, 2014  Peer Relationships: Legal Considerations for Students at Independent Schools
June 25 - June 27, 2014  2014 Independent School Conference on Law and Policy
April 29, 2013  The Legal Implications of the Hotchkiss Decision: Best NEW Practices in Risk Management from a Legal Perspective
March 29, 2012  Tax Essentials for Independent Schools
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