Lighting the way so others can shine
Education law encompasses the diverse array of legal issues navigated by schools in the course of their business. Wyatt has extensive experience representing a wide variety of educational institutions on matters ranging from employment litigation to patent applications. Our experience allows us to provide fast and efficient advice to schools and other education-related clients. The following are examples of the types of education law matters handled by our attorneys:
Competition among colleges and universities to attract the best faculty and students has never been more fierce. One of the factors that these faculty and students will weigh heavily in making their choice is the quality of the facilities in which they will live and work. Our Construction lawyers have helped our education clients negotiate with developers and contractors on classroom buildings, dormitories, stadiums, arenas, and more recently, mixed-use developments.
Data Privacy & Security
Our lawyers provide legal advice and guidance to educational institutions who experience a data breach that may have resulted in unauthorized access or disclosure of personal information. We have advised clients regarding a variety of incidents involving malware, malicious email, lost laptops, stolen briefcases, stolen and lost mobile devices, inappropriate disposal of personal information, misplaced files, vendor mailing errors, employee theft, and excess disclosure of information to third parties. Our lawyers work with a team of computer forensics and remediation experts, as well as federal authorities such as FBI and Homeland Security, if necessary. We also assist clients in reviewing agreements with vendors who will process or have access to personal information of alumni, staff, or students. We also review and advise on coverage offered under data security and breach response policies and procedures, and prepare employee training and education on recognizing suspicious emails and how to be safe online.
Employee Benefits & Executive Compensation
To grow in a competitive environment, colleges and universities need visionary leadership. Our Employee Benefits attorneys have experience advising Boards of Trustees on negotiations with leadership, and documenting effective executive compensation and benefit plans. We have also advised our higher education clients on compliance with changes in the law that might affect their employee benefit plans, such as the Affordable Care Act, and the Supreme Court ruling against the Defense of Marriage Act.
The U.S. academic community is a melting pot of international cultures and citizens. Our Immigration lawyers regularly assist our education clients who are recruiting professionals from abroad or who are exchanging their faculty with institutions in foreign countries.
Labor & Employment
The tenure process creates unique issues for higher education clients. A unionized but professional state-employed work force presents unique issues for municipal school systems. Our Labor & Employment lawyers have significant experience with advising colleges and universities on employment policies, procedures and terminations, including large and small scale reductions-in-force. We also assist one of the largest public school systems in the U.S. with its employment matters and arbitrations.
Real Estate/Land Use & Zoning
We regularly help schools to efficiently negotiate and document land transfers. Growth can be an issue for schools in urban areas because of congestion, neighborhood objections and building and lighting restrictions. Our Real Estate lawyers frequently assist our education-based clients in working through these issues with innovative solutions that allow the institutions to continue to grow while still being good neighbors.
Tax Exemption and Fundraising
We understand the complex tax rules and regulations that apply to nonprofit and tax-exempt educational organizations whether they seek to obtain or preserve their tax-exempt status. Our attorneys frequently advise educational organizations on tax planning and tax controversy matters. We can assess available corporate structures, including joint ventures, and craft governance solutions designed to best achieve your educational objectives. Our attorneys regularly counsel boards of directors about complying with fiduciary duties and corporate governance practices. And we work with executive compensation committees, guiding them through the rebuttable presumption safeharbor procedures under the excess benefit transaction rules.
We often assist our educational clients with charitable gift planning, fundraising solicitations, and other issues that arise while administering charitable gifts. Growing endowments, which are used to fund capital improvements, scholarships and faculty retention, raise complex legal issues. Our attorneys have advised major colleges and universities as far away as California on issues relating to testamentary gifts, school-affiliated foundations, and fiduciary responsibilities of endowments.
The Education Law team also regularly assists clients with:
- Academic Medical Centers
- Athletic Facility Financing and Lease Agreements
- Bond Financing
- Conference Affiliation Agreements
- Drafting and Negotiating Contracts, including Coaching and Faculty Contracts
- Intellectual Property
- Open Meetings
- Open Records
- Public Finance
- Public/Private Partnerships
- Title IX Compliance
Representative clients include:
- Alice Lloyd College
- Asbury University
- Bellarmine University
- Berea College
- Centre College
- Eastern Kentucky University
- Georgetown College
- Jefferson County (Kentucky) School Board
- Murray State University
- Floyd County (Indiana) School Board
- Shelby County (Tennessee) School Board
- Southern Baptist Theological Seminary
- Sullivan University
- University of Kentucky
- University of Louisville
- University of Memphis
- Western Kentucky University