Academic institutions face complex, and sometimes conflicting, legal issues in meeting the needs and demands of diverse stakeholders: students, faculty, staff, parents, alumni, and donors. Competitive, economic, and regulatory pressures make delivering consistent, high-quality education and student services increasingly complex. To navigate these pressures confidently, academic leaders benefit from an experienced legal partner who can deliver reliable advice with business efficiency.  

Woods Rogers has extensive experience advising academic institutions, both public and private. Our multidisciplinary higher education team advises colleges and universities on routine and complex matters in areas such as cybersecurity, finance, governance, intellectual property, labor and employment, litigation, internal investigations, and real estate.  

Woods Rogers's higher education attorneys include current and former faculty and academic advisors, as well as attorneys who frequently write and speak on legal issues in higher education. Team members are active in a variety of industry and professional groups that serve the higher education community, including the National Association of College and University Attorneys, the Virginia Foundation for Independent Colleges, the Council of Independent Colleges, and the College and University Professional Association for Human Resources.

Areas of Focus

Labor & Employment 

  • Analyze, advise, and train on issues associated with Title VII of the Civil Rights Act, Title IX, the Americans with Disabilities Act, the Family and Medical Leave Act, the Fair Labor Standards Act, the Clery Act, the Violence Against Women Act, and other related regulations and statutes. 
  • Day-to-day involvement in employment issues related to faculty and staff. 
  • Termination of faculty and staff and application of faculty handbook procedures. 
  • Examination of faculty tenure issues. 
  • Drafting and negotiating faculty and administration contracts. 
  • Use and application of the American Association of University and Professors (AAUP) Red Book in addressing issues. 
  • Examination of policies, concerns, and issues related to potential union organizing efforts.
  • Analysis and defense of faculty and staff when potential liabilities arise. 
  • Immigration issues and management of visa applications for faculty and staff who are non-U.S. citizens. 

Regulatory and Student Affairs 

  • Examination of Title IX concerns associated specifically with students (transgender and otherwise). 
  • Analyze issues associated with the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA). 
  • Enforcement of compliance with college housing policies, use of "emotional support" pets, and presence of weapons on campus. 
  • Analyze student conduct and disciplinary actions and draft policies and procedures. 
  • Advise and consult on development of formation of study abroad programs and international incorporation, limiting liability, and related foreign law and corporate concerns. 
  • Consult with and advise boards of trustees, including attendance at board meetings. 

Operational Matters 

  • Advise and address issues associated with the requirements of the Affordable Care Act, including electronic record-keeping. 
  • Review and management of copyrights gifted to a university. 
  • Review and filing of trademarks for a university. 
  • Review of bonding issues. 
  • Analyze gifts and trusts for compliance and deviation from the original gift intent following the Uniformed Prudent Management of Institutional Funds Act (UPMIFA). 
  • Examination of trust and estate issues. 
  • Review of land use and easement issues associated with conservation easements given to a college. 

Litigation, Investigations, and Dispute Resolution 

  • Representing and defending clients before state and federal courts and administrative agencies. 
  • Representing a national higher-ed services provider in federal government investigation. 
  • Representing a research university in a dispute regarding trade secrets and intellectual property agreements. 
  • Whistleblower cases
  • Internal investigations and institutional proceedings


News & Insights

The information you obtain at this site is not, nor is it intended to be, legal advice nor does it constitute an attorney-client relationship. The information provided may not be applicable in all situations and readers should speak with an attorney about their specific concerns. Some material on this site may be considered attorney advertising in some jurisdictions.

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