Higher Education


Covering Your Campus's Legal Issues

The legal issues facing colleges and universities are more challenging than ever, reaching every corner of campus life with increasing complexity. From discipline to drones, Title IX to taxes, FERPA to financing, Saul Ewing has a deep bench of lawyers who wrestle with these issues every day, including acting as general counsel to small colleges and universities without in-house lawyers. In the past few years, our Higher Education Practice has rendered service in some of the nation’s highest profile matters:

  • Multi-campus university systems in large-scale government investigations and in proactive compliance reviews and audits (Clery Act, Title IX, Title IV, Title II, minors on campus);
  • Colleges and universities of all sizes and types on comprehensive policy reviews and revisions;
  • Defending institutions in front-page news lawsuits, including allegations of hazing, child abuse, sexual violence, student death, suicide, faculty dismissal, racial discrimination and ADA discrimination

In addition, our team advises colleges and universities on the following areas:

  • Faculty and other employee relations
  • Tenure and promotion; benefits; FMLA, discrimination claims
  • Regulatory compliance across the campus
  • Health care, including HIPPA
  • Esports
  • Non-profit tax issues
  • Combination and affiliation transactions
  • Litigation defense, including class actions 
  • IP and technology protection
  • Cybersecurity and privacy, including GDPR and FERPA
  • Transactions – vendor contracts; real estate, public finance; research partnerships
  • Endowment development; estates and trusts


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Campus Map: Covering Your Campus's Legal Issues



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Key Contacts
James A. Keller
Joshua W. B. Richards
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Saul Ewing attorneys have represented higher education clients in these select matters:

Labor and Employment

  • Represented Pennsylvania community college in a very sensitive employment discharge case involving a high-ranking school official.
  • Defended major Ivy League university against claim filed by former employee alleging that the university provided defamatory information to a subsequent prospective employer.
  • Defended public university against First Amendment claims brought by tenured professor.
  • Defended public university against claim of wrongful termination brought by research professor.
  • Defended prestigious liberal arts college in Americans with Disabilities Act case brought by professor in response to disciplinary proceedings commenced against him.

Major Premises Liability Defense

  • Successfully obtained dismissal for an Ivy League university in student suicide litigation.
  • Obtained summary judgment in Pennsylvania state court for large university in a case filed by parking garage employee intentionally struck by an automobile.
  • Defended several colleges and universities against variety of major premises liability cases, including: blind graduate student who fell into excavated hole near campus; graduate art student burned while working on sculpture project after business hours; student who died from drugs delivered to her campus dormitory by a student who had been banned from campus; women’s crew team member killed during race; student shot and killed on a public university campus; employee intentionally assaulted by prowler in early-morning attack; chemistry student injured outside of laboratory; employee injured in elevator malfunction; and visiting parent struck by bicyclist on campus.
  • Defended wrongful death suit claiming university dorm security breached standard of care.


  • Secured financing for Bucks County and Montgomery County based community colleges.
  • Structured financing for new bookstore for private university using new market and historic tax credits.


  • Obtained dismissal on behalf of Ivy League veterinary professor who was sued by a racehorse trainer as a result of professor's actions in certifying racehorses.
  • Counseled Philadelphia-based college through process of terminating tenured professor.
  • Assisted a college in collective bargaining negotiations with employees' union and provided labor advice.

Policies and Procedures

  • Scrutinized entire catalog of prominent Pennsylvania liberal arts college and assisted college in implementing various clarifications and changes to policies and procedures, particularly those involving student discipline and internal student conduct board.
  • Performed comprehensive and now annual review of student code of conduct for a large, publicly assisted university.
  • Advised Ivy League university regarding permissible discipline against student who falsified certain financial aid information.
  • Reviewed and revised bylaws of Maryland liberal arts college.
  • Advised publicly assisted university regarding its admission policies in light of federal law regarding admission of undocumented aliens.

Other Litigation Defense

  • Defended a university against challenges to use of its endowment.
  • Defended against Free Speech claims by student suspended for posting disturbing web material.
  • Defended against Freedom of Association challenge to suspension of fraternities.
  • Defended ophthalmologic institution against claim that it improperly participated in scientific clinical study.
  • Defended college against claim that veterinary professor provided allegedly negligent advice regarding equine drugs.
  • Defended a university against claims of improper receipt and use of donated human tissue.
  • Defended Maryland community college against student's claim that college provided a "warranty" with regard to its services.
  • Represented school in Title IV federal student aid program review appeal to the United States Department of Education.
  • Defended university physical therapy clinic in malpractice action.

Real Estate

  • Negotiated acquisition, financing, design and construction agreements in connection with an internationally-renowned museum and art school’s expansion into another facility, and the agreements pursuant to which the institution is moving from its current facilities to make way for the expansion of a convention center.
  • Negotiated the acquisition of abandoned Chrysler assembly plant, obtaining approval from bankruptcy court, on behalf of a local university.
  • Negotiated agreements, and obtained all necessary approvals and variances, for expansion of a Delaware-based city college’s main campus.
Mapping Our Experience

Our team has advised colleges and universities in the states and countries shaded below.

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Canada Blue Shape V3
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United Kingdom Blue Shape V2
Netherlands Blue Shape
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