Education in United States

Choate, Hall & Stewart

Choate, Hall & Stewart's the education practice has complementary strength in the healthcare segment and excels in matters relating to academic medical centers. In addition, the Boston-based group handles a steady stream of internal reviews and high-profile investigations for universities against all forms of alleged misconduct and foreign influence matters. Christine Savage, who leads the healthcare group, has two decades of experience handling sensitive internal investigations for academic and clinical research institutions. Elsewhere, employment experts Greg Keating, who leads the firms whistleblower defense practice, and Alison Reif handle employment-related matters for large corporations and schools. The firm has a large litigation offering with seasoned trial lawyer Joan Lukey handling high-stakes litigation regarding sexual harassment claims. The team has been strengthened by the arrival of government compliance lawyer Adam Bookbinder, who joined from Holland & Knight LLP, and advises education institutions on cyber security and data privacy issues.

Practice head(s):

Christine Savage; Greg Keating; Joan Lukey; Alison Reif

Other key lawyers:

Adam Bookbinder

Key clients

Buckingham Browne & Nichols School

Cushing Academy

Kingsley Montessori School

Dartmouth College

Harvard University/Harvard School of Public Health

Work highlights

  • Acted as general counsel to Cushing Academy in a wide variety of potential issues including student discipline, expulsion, and faculty and staff employment issues.
  • Representing Dartmouth College in a Title IX case which alleges that the College is responsible for sex discrimination, sexual harassment, and sexual assault committed by three tenured professors.
  • Representing Harvard University in a lawsuit brought by Prof. Charles M. Lieber seeking advancement of legal fees and indemnification in connection with criminal charges (false statement, tax and banking disclosure charges) brought by the US Department of Justice in connection with his alleged ties to a Chinese university in Wuhan.

Husch Blackwell LLP

Based in Kansas City, ‘well-respected‘ education powerhouse Husch Blackwell LLP has a multi-state presence and a deep bench of experts handling the full gamut of education law matters, with particular strength in Title IX independent reviews. Practice head Hayley Hanson, based in Kansas City, has over two decades of experience and is the key contact for sensitive investigations relating to social media, sexual assault allegations, and racial discrimination in higher education institutions. She also handles corporate mandates including acquisitions and asset transfers for universities. The wider team includes litigator Derek Teeter, who handles a significant amount of high-stakes litigations for universities and colleges on Title IX and the Clery Act. In Chicago, managing partner Julie Miceli advises universities on compliance, financial aid work, and campus safety, while ‘standout partnerLisa Parker is singled out for her healthcare-related education practice. She works closely with practice head Hanson on large M&A matters. Clients include religious institutions, non-profits, and K-12 school districts. In Austin, Scott Schneider is the key contact for sensitive employment-related matters including sexual misconduct, internal investigations, and Title IX work. The group has bolstered its education practice via five lateral hires, including some from Polsinelli PC.

Practice head(s):

Hayley Hanson

Other key lawyers:

Lisa Parker; Derek Teeter; Julie Miceli; Scott Schneider


The practice has an incredible and deep bench of education resources in a broad range of substantive areas that are unique to higher education. The team is responsive and very agile.

What makes the team stand out is the common sense approach to tough problems and the responsiveness. Lisa Parker is a standout in this regard.’

Lisa Parker deserves special recognition. Her legal skills, knowledge of the industry and responsiveness is worthy of high praise. She is my go-to lawyer for higher education matters.’

Key clients

Chicago State University

Colorado State University

Franciscan University

Indiana State University

Johns Hopkins University

MidAmerica Nazarene

Northwestern University

Northwest Missouri State University

Ohio State University

Point Loma Nazarene

St. Louis University

Texas A&M University

Trevecca Nazarene

United Educators

University of Illinois

University of Iowa

University of Kansas

University of Tulsa

Wichita State University

William Jewell College

Work highlights

  • Conducted an independent review for The University of Iowa of issues and allegations relating to racial disparities within the football program; also provided advice relating to Title IX compliance and litigation.
  • Representing Northwestern University in a $40m energy P3 for the campus.
  • Conducted an independent review of issues related to racial bias and Covid-19 compliance in the athletic department for Colorado State University.

Nelson Mullins Riley & Scarborough LLP

Fielding a sizeable team across Washington DC and Atlanta, the full-service education practice at Nelson Mullins Riley & Scarborough LLP has strength in depth across transactional mandates and contentious matters for an array of clients including Atlanta Public Schools. 'Standout partner', Nina Gupta  in Atlanta heads the group and is skilled in regulatory and litigation matters, particularly related to discrimination and other Title IX claims. Gupta also advises on employment-related matters such as university pensions. Suzann Wilcox  is also recommended for her experience acting for public school districts on procedural matters, special education needs, and privacy work. Contacts in Washington DC include litigator Arthur Coleman , who specializes in civil rights-related legislation in higher education institutions and strategic guidance to schools on diversity and inclusion. Also recommended in DC is Scott Palmer , who is co-founder of the firm's affiliate consulting group EducationCounsel LLC, and is recommended for his advisory work pertaining to policy change. The team also handles a significant amount of pro bono work.

Practice head(s):

Glenn Brock; Arthur Coleman; Nina Gupta; Scott Palmer


‘This practice is unique because you never get the feeling that you are working with a large firm. The people are friendly, relatable, and you never feel that you need to question the information that you are being given. They are flexible and if they cannot work within your time constraints, they find someone who can. We have several firms on retainer with our organization and I ONLY call my contact at Nelson Mullins.’

There are not many firms that have the bandwidth to handle everything with such competence while being able to provide a genuine feel in terms of the relationship.

‘Nina Gupta is a standout partner. I cannot say enough about her in terms of her knowledge, her work, her product, her work ethic, and I absolutely adore her as a person. I have been with my company for almost 5 years and have worked most closely with Nina for about 4 of them. There is no one better to handle the work within a school. Absolutely no one. She is dependable, I can rely on a response from her anytime I reach out, and her work is beyond reproach.’

‘I have worked with Suzann Wilcox, and she is great. She has a wonderful, warm personality, and she has been able to move us through some situations by being extremely responsive and knowledgeable about our work. Suzann always knows who to get us connected with if she will not be handling something directly. Additionally, she always connects us with great people.’

‘We had a teacher come from Australia on a Visa and Ji Young Song and June Lee were absolute specialists in making this a painless, seamless process. They were both so efficient and knowledgeable about the process and timelines.’

Work highlights

  • Acted for Atlanta Public Schools in dismissing or favorably settling various cases of discrimination litigation, including 28 complaints of discrimination before the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission.
  • Representing Coastal Ridge Real Estate in the refinancing of two student housing properties containing approximately 550 units near the University of Notre Dame campus in South Bend, Indiana.
  • Acted for Atlanta Public Schools in a complex transaction to leverage over $20m in funding to construct a new neighborhood school in an underserved community.


WilmerHale's education practice group is renowned for handling high-stakes civil litigation mandates for colleges and universities involving anti-discrimination and civil rights issues. Based in Washington DC, the group has considerable expertise handling contentious matters and investigations related to Title IX, Title VI, and the Americans with Disabilities Act. Education group head Bruce Berman has extensive experience representing higher education institutions in sexual misconduct matters including in grievance proceedings, complaints, and policy reforms. He also has niche expertise in matters relating to standardized education testing. Danielle Conley heads the firm's anti-discrimination practice group and handles sensitive internal investigations related to allegations of sexual misconduct, harassment and discrimination on campus. She also acts for universities in their run-ins with the Department of Education. Co-chair of the team and seasoned litigatorJamie Gorelick focuses on reputational issues facing institutions, and works across the firms controversy and regulatory and government affairs team.

Practice head(s):

Bruce Berman; Danielle Conley; Jamie Gorelick

Duane Morris LLP

Duane Morris LLP‘s education practice brings together a multidisciplinary team skilled across litigation, real estate, and employment law, and has a very strong reputation, ‘rooted in understanding the needs of in-house counsel’. Predominantly based in San Diego, the group is made up of Anthony Guida, who is described as ‘exceptional’ according to clients, and is experienced in matters such as licensing and accreditation. Also in the team is Keith Zakarin, who acts for private schools and colleges in employment-related litigation and student issues; and Grant Puleo, who focuses on real estate transactions and financings. The team acts for a range of clients from K-12 and higher education institutions, but also acts for education technology companies and private equity investors active in the sector. In Washington DC, co-chair of the group Katherine Brodie specializes in Title IV, Title IX, and Clery Act compliance matters, as well as data security issues.

Practice head(s):

Keith Zakarin; Anthony Guida; Katherine Brodie; Edward Cramp; Lisa Scruggs

Other key lawyers:

Grant Puleo


‘This practice group is rooted in understanding the needs of in-house counsel and providing recommendation and advice in which operational impact is considered.’

‘Tony Guida is exceptional at connecting people and issues and staffing matters with key talent, while considering the client need. He is well respected in the field and has served in a variety of capacities in-house prior to move to partner. His appreciation of board expectations, operational needs legal and regulatory concerns leads to unmatched service.’

‘The Duane Morris team affords us a truly bipartisan approach to our efforts. They are well read and able to breakdown key points of legislation that would have effects on our membership while offering well thought out strategies to embrace or fight against.’

Katherine Brodie, Kristina Gill & Ed Cramp have a very clam pragmatic way of breaking down and distributing the information we need to move our association forward. Level headed, advice that does effectuate change has always been given to us.’

Key clients

Perdoceo Education Group

PineBridge Investments

The Halifax Group

Chegg, Inc.

Primavera Capital Group

Sofia University

OTA Franchise Corporation

Accrediting Council for Independent Colleges and Schools

Association of Proprietary Colleges

Goddard Systems, Inc.

Konrad Group

American Assn of Cosmetology Schools (AACS)

Tricoci University of Beauty

Gurnick Academy

West Coast University

Concornde Career College

Regents of the University of California

American Infrastructure

Schoeneman Entitites

Center for Excellence in Higher Education

Pierce Education Properties, LP

University of San Francisco

Concorde Career Colleges, Inc.

International Education Corporation

Lafayette College

CDL School LLC

Adtalem Global Foundation

Devereux Foundation

Work highlights

  • Successfully represented American Association of Cosmetology Schools (AACS) in litigation against the US Department of Education challenging the validity of the “Gainful Employment” rule.
  • Represented Accrediting Council for Independent Colleges and Schools in high-profile defense of accreditors recognized status against US Department of Education actions to de-recognize accreditor, assist with re-petition for recognition and compliance to maintain recognized status.
  • Represented Perdoceo Education Group in a $45m acquisition of assets of Trident University International.

Hogan Lovells US LLP

Hogan Lovells US LLP's multidisciplinary education practice has a strong bench of talent in Washington DC and is skilled in the full range of issues affecting education institutions, from corporate transactions to complex litigation. It is particularly noted for its work in the academic medical center space. The team is very active on the international stage, where Stephanie Gold has over two decades of experience acting for colleges and universities in sensitive investigations, regulatory work, and compliance. She also advises medical schools on spin-outs. Another name to note is William Ferreira, who is recommended for advising universities on expansion into the Asian and Middle Eastern markets. Ferreira heads up the education practice, while Gold leads the firm's education sector group. Clients also benefit from the firm's wider capabilities in dispute resolution and corporate. Michael Vernick joined Akin Gump Strauss Hauer & Feld LLP in 2021.

Practice head(s):

William Ferreira; Stephanie Gold

Key clients

Harvard University

Yale University

Cornell University

Brown University

Arizona State University

Yeshiva University

American Council on Education

American Public Education, Inc.

Carnegie Mellon University

University of Louisville

Penn State University

Duke University

University of Southern California

University of Pennsylvania

University of Maryland College Park

New York University

Columbia University

Seton Hall University

Work highlights

  • Advised Carnegie Mellon University comprehensively across a range of higher education legal issues, including international online education; faculty, staff, and student matters in the US and globally; Covid-19 surveillance testing; research integrity and compliance; and government grants and contracts matters.
  • Advised Strategic Education, Inc. on its deal to acquire Laureate Education Inc.’s academic operations in Australia and New Zealand in an all-cash deal worth $662m.
  • Advising the US Cooperative for International Patient Programs and its academic medical center members on performance of telemedicine programs around the globe.

King & Spalding LLP

King & Spalding LLP's full-service higher education practice has a core strengths in healthcare-related education matters, particularly in the academic medical center space, and sensitive employment issues. The group is co-headed by finance lawyer Floyd Newton in Atlanta, who handles large financing transactions for universities including Emory University. The Atlanta team is also includes dispute resolution expert Tish McDonald, who focuses on commercial litigation mandates for higher education institutions and foundations pertaining to real estate and trusts, with an emphasis on fiduciary litigation. Over in Chicago, practice co-chair Patrick Collins handles controversy matters including internal investigations and civil and criminal proceedings before federal courts. Torrey McClary in Los Angeles represents medical centers in complex healthcare transactions.

Practice head(s):

Floyd Newton; Patrick Collins

Other key lawyers:

Tish McDonald; Torrey McClary

Key clients

The University of Georgia Athletic Association and The University of Georgia Foundation

Emory University

The University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston

Stanford Health Care, University of Kansas Hospital, The University of Utah Hospital and Memorial Hospital at Gulfport

Virtus Real Estate, LLC

TPG Sixth Street Partners

The Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC)

Work highlights

  • Representing Emory University Law School in litigation filed by a former tenured law professor who used the fully articulated N-word in a classroom setting. The professor was removed from the classroom and has filed a lawsuit alleging discrimination, defamation, and tortious interference.
  • Representing The University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston (UTHealth) in the renegotiation of its long-term $100m+ affiliation agreement with Harris County Hospital District.
  • Handle the outside litigation matters for the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC), which is the accrediting body for the colleges and universities in the 11 Southern states.

McGuireWoods LLP

McGuireWoods LLP's multidisciplinary education team has 'talent at all levels' and provides 'great legal advice' to higher education clients. Headed by corporate partner Harrison Marshall in North Carolina, the group advises higher education institutions on the full range of matters including sensitive employment-related issues, dispute resolution, and real estate. The team is also able to leverage the firm's expertise in other areas, acting for colleges in tax compliance and complex regulatory matters. Michele McKinnon heads the firm's nonprofit and tax-exempt organizations team and is the key name here. Also in North Carolina, managing partner of the firm's Raleigh office Mary Nash Rusher handles financing transactions for public and private K-12 schools and colleges. Experienced trial lawyer Craig Wood in Charlottesville has a track record of defending higher education clients in employment matters, including criminal investigations, Title IX claims, and other sexual misconduct matters.

Practice head(s):

Harrison Marshall

Other key lawyers:

Michele McKinnon; Mary Nash Rusher; Craig Wood


‘Besides having expertise in all areas we need legal advice in, McGuire Woods is and has been completely accessible to us – and approachable. We know we’re getting great legal advice, that we can trust. We know they care about the end result and how laws impact our organization.’

‘Depth of industry knowledge; long-term continuity of coverage on the relationship.’

Michele McKinnon is terrific.

‘Deep knowledge of the legal particularities in Virginia public higher education.’

‘The McGuire Woods team, particularly Mary Nash Rusher, really understand public higher education in North Carolina. They come alongside in-house counsel to address matters in a strategic fashion and are great problem solvers.’

Mary Nash Rusher is definitely a stand-out partner. She has a wealth of experience to draw on that helps us navigate issues very efficiently. She is a wonderful problem solver who always has practical solutions to problems. Mary Nash is great to work with, very personable and she engenders trust. I can call her anytime to discuss issues and don’t have to fear that every single conversation is on the clock.’

The talent level of the lawyers involved, especially Michele McKinnon is off the charts.’

‘Michele McKinnon is one of the two best lawyers I have ever worked with. She is great at what she does, and when she needs to bring someone else she does. Scott Weber is also very capable, as was Matt Rash. Dave Richardson is also very good.’

Key clients

Washington & Lee University

Davidson College

Central Piedmont Community College

Liberty University

Appalachian State University

The Pennsylvania State University

Episcopal High School

Lake Norman Charter School

Work highlights

  • Represented the George Mason University Foundation in a lawsuit where a student group sought to obtain donor records through Virginia’s Freedom of Information Act.
  • Represented the Virginia Commonwealth University in its first public/private partnership for a student-housing complex.
  • Representing The Pennsylvania State University in a trademark infringement and cybersquatting case.

Norton Rose Fulbright

The higher education practice at Norton Rose Fulbright has a niche healthcare interface and focuses on large transactional mandates for universities, medical schools, and academic medical centers. Head of healthcare and co-head of the group Stacey Murphy in St. Louis has deep experience of academic health systems and handles corporate matters and M&A for clients seeking to expand their university practices. She is supported by healthcare transactional lawyer Andrew Roth in New York, who focuses on medical school accreditation matters, particularly on compliance issues relating to the Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical Education. Also on the East Coast is practice co-chair Douglas Fried in New York, who also heads the infrastructure group. In Texas, key contacts include employment lawyer Mario Barrera, who represents institutions in all forms of discrimination matters and sensitive sexual harassment cases, and Jerry Bell,  who acts for a number of academic medical centers and medical schools.

Practice head(s):

Stacey Murohy; Douglas Fried

Other key lawyers:

Andrew Roth; Mario Barrera; Jerry Bell


‘The attorneys I work with have specialized expertise in labor and employment law and civil rights as it applies to higher education. They are up to date on the case law and can answer any question promptly. They are easy to work with and always accessible.’

‘Mario Barrera and Stephen Romero are first-class attorneys. They are subject matter experts in all areas of labor and employment and higher education but also in civil procedure and litigation. They are ethical and role models for professionalism.’

Key clients

University of Louisville

University of New Mexico

State University of New York Downstate Medical Center

Baylor College of Medicine

Work highlights

  • Represented Hannon Armstrong in connection with its $115m preferred equity investment in the $1.17bn University of Iowa (UI) Utility System P3.
  • Representing a consortium in relation to P3 procurement undertaken by California State University, Fresno.
  • Advised SUNY Downstate Medical Center (Brooklyn, NY), the Sponsoring Institution for more than 50 residency and fellowship programs, on its Accreditation Council of Graduate Medical Education institutional review.