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Practice Group

Higher Education

Ogletree Deakins is an industry leader in higher education legal practice. Our attorneys have decades of experience advising and defending public and private, religious and secular colleges, universities, and vocational schools. With more than 200 attorneys with experience in higher education, we provide highly responsive legal services that include litigation defense, analysis, counseling, day-to-day advice, and representation in the following areas:

Employee Relations

  • Internal investigations
  • Labor relations
  • Immigration
  • Workplace violence
  • Employee discipline
  • Family and medical leave
  • Benefits
  • Severance agreements
  • Military leave
  • Union avoidance
  • ERISA litigation
  • Drug testing

Equal Opportunity

  • Disability access and accommodation
  • Title VII
  • Title IX
  • Equal Pay Act
  • Employment litigation
  • Grievances
  • Age discrimination
  • Affirmative action
  • Pay equity


  • OCR complaints
  • EEOC charge responses
  • OFCCP audits
  • DOL investigations
  • Workforce reductions and program closures
  • Conflicts of interest
  • Research misconduct
  • Training
  • Compliance
  • Accreditation
  • Data privacy
  • OSHA
  • Wage and hour

Student Matters

  • Clery Act
  • Admissions
  • Student discipline
  • Student organizations
  • Honor code
  • Financial aid
  • Social media
  • Online education
  • Title VI
  • Athletics
  • Title IX

Flexible Practice Model that Focuses on Client Needs

Our higher education practice model is two-fold. First, we work with in-house and local counsel to resolve complex litigation, administrative, policy, and compliance matters. If an institution requires rapid deployment of supplemental legal resources, we provide it. Second, for institutions that do not have in-house or local counsel, our attorneys serve traditional in-house functions of reviewing, advising, and providing core legal support for institutional objectives while also resolving litigation-related, administrative, regulatory, and compliance matters. Our attorneys have an appreciation for the culture of higher education and the business of academe. We offer a well-coordinated team that provides institutions with bench-depth and ensures the availability of legal resources, integration of areas of expertise, and economies of scale for clients. We handle simple and complex matters, provide training, and assist with the formulation and implementation of risk management strategies. We help college and university leaders respond to the legal challenges in today’s fast-paced and increasingly complex higher education environment.

Depth and Experience

Ogletree Deakins attorneys bring higher education-specific experience and knowledge to the institutions we represent. This allows us to provide the following benefits:

  • Access to higher education counsel with on-point experience who can handle the most complex disputes and transactions
  • Attorneys who are experienced in providing day-to-day legal advice in the context of higher education
  • On a case-by-case basis, Ogletree Deakins can put together a strong higher education legal team with: Practice experience, enhanced peer consultation, and pooled personnel capital
  • Unparalleled higher education “bench depth” in litigation, policy matters, EEOC charges, OCR complaints, disability and accommodation issues, OFCCP reviews, contracting, and legal issues based on state and federal law, state and federal regulations, and agency rules and regulations
  • Experience working with university presidents, general counsel, and members of senior leadership teams
  • Counsel who stay informed of pending legislation affecting institutional operations, compliance requirements, and legal trends in higher education
  • Training and presentations for executive employees, staff, and faculty
  • Preventive counseling about legal risks associated with business practices
  • Experience in higher education-specific matters such as articulation agreements, bid protests, clinical affiliation agreements, Campus Sexual Violence Elimination Act compliance, construction, credentialing, diversity training, Drug and Alcohol Abuse Prevention Program requirements, fair use, Higher Education Opportunity Act compliance, honor code, procurement, program integrity rules (Title IV), reaffirmation of accreditation, red flag rules, strategic planning, and Student Right-to-Know
  • Experience as institutional liaisons with the U.S. Department of Education, the U.S. Attorney’s Office, Offices of Inspectors General, and other agencies
  • Higher education legal alerts, newsletters, and webinars for institutional clients


Communication is a vital part of serving the legal needs of higher education leaders, colleges, and universities. We regularly update clients on the status of their matters and are available for consultation at every step of the decision-making process. This participative practice style promotes information-driven decision making and helps to build strong and lasting relationships based on timeliness, responsiveness, quality, and value.


We are a leader in offering value-based billing for clients. We work closely with our clients to develop fee arrangements that are tailored to their needs, and we are happy to discuss alternative fee agreements that may be of interest to our clients.

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