Client and Industry Challenges

Educational institutions and providers regularly confront industry-specific legal and business issues that range from day-to-day personnel and operating concerns to complex regulation and litigation matters. In most cases, educational institutions also have unique procedures, policies and cultural influences that affect their response to these challenges.

Snell & Wilmer’s education group is well-versed in the nuanced and rapidly changing legal issues faced by educational institutions. Our team of attorneys has extensive experience in the education sector, and includes former in-house university counsel and tenured faculty members. We work closely with our education clients to provide personalized legal services that meet and exceed their needs and goals.

Areas of Service

Our services include handling transactional and litigation matters in the areas of:

  • Regulatory compliance
  • Governance and administration
  • Accreditation
  • Financial aid
  • Civil rights, discrimination and Equal Access
  • Donor issues
  • Disability issues
  • Taxation
  • Data privacy and security
  • Student affairs
  • Faculty rights
  • Labor relations
  • Wage and hour claims
  • Discipline and due process
  • Intellectual property
  • Board of Education consultation
  • Special education

Our attorneys assist our education clients with risk management policies and administrative, operational and academic procedures. Our team has represented educational institutions in regulatory proceedings and hearings, negotiations, mediations, arbitrations and litigation before state and federal courts and administrative agencies.

Clients We Serve

Our education group serves a wide range of educational clients, including public and private universities, for-profit colleges and high schools, medical and professional schools, K-12 private and charter schools, and several non-profit education oriented foundations.

Why Clients Select Us

High-Quality, Comprehensive Service: Our education clients benefit from having access to Snell & Wilmer's full range of legal services, such as corporate planning and formation; real estate acquisition; zoning and construction; public and private financing; intellectual property and technology; employee benefits; class action litigation; immigration and employment law matters. Our tax team has significant experience in representing organizations in the unique areas surrounding non-profit and for-profit reorganizations and structuring of transactions. Because many of our clients have multi-state projects or interests, we have experienced education attorneys practicing in our Arizona, California, Nevada, Colorado and Utah offices.

Emphasis on Relationships: Our education group thrives on developing and maintaining long and successful relationships with our education clients and their administrators, staff, faculty, counsel and consultants. We will work hard to build and maintain these relationships by establishing our clients’ trust through our responsiveness, thoroughness and dedication to achieving the best possible results for their companies and organizations.


Snell & Wilmer's education team has a proven track record assisting clients with educational institution planning and development, taxation, administration, risk management, dispute resolution, litigation and regulatory compliance and enforcement.

Specific examples of our education industry experience and services include:

Student and Faculty Affairs

  • Counseled a public university on issues involving the right to prevent fire arms on campus
  • Represented a for-profit university in state court litigation involving readmittance and absence issues
  • Served local counsel involving a labor dispute filed against a for-profit professional school
  • Represented a for-profit university state court litigation involving testing procedures
  • Advised a for-profit professional school on its obligations involving student restraining orders
  • Responded to garnishment actions filed against an educational institution’s employees
  • Continuously counsel and advise a for-profit college on student and faculty issues as they arise
  • Responded to requests/subpoenas for documents under FERPA

Data Privacy and Security

  • Represented large public university in significant data breach matter
  • Counseled a large public university regarding several technology-related litigation matters

Class Action Litigation

  • Handled multiple consolidated class action lawsuits against a for-profit university involving wage and hour claims with several thousand class members
  • Settled wage and hour class action for an educational institution which involves arbitration agreements signed by approximately half of the class. Client then pursued, with our assistance, individual settlements to further reduce exposure to future class actions
  • Served as local counsel an early, large and very influential qui tam case for a major for-profit education client that involved incentive compensation issues
  • Obtained dismissal following a motion for judgment on the pleadings in class action involving mileage expense reimbursement claims
  • Defeated class certification effort in a case involving enrollment counselors alleging multiple violations of wage and hour statutes and orders, including misclassification of exempt status

Intellectual Property

  • Prepared and prosecuted numerous trademark applications for a public university
  • Represented numerous charter schools for all intellectual property needs
  • Represented numerous for-profit entities that license curricula to charter schools and public schools
  • Represented charter schools and other educational institutions with respect to ownership of intellectual property with their employees and independent contractors; specifically, representing charter schools and educational institutions in disputes with independent contractors related to the ownership of curricula and intellectual property, and preparing agreements to ensure that charter schools and educational institutions own all curricula and intellectual property created from the outset by independent contractors and employees
  • Identified patentable subject matter for various software systems designed for and successfully implemented in the education industry
  • Prepared and prosecuted various patent applications directed at educational software.
  • Rendered non-infringement opinions for educational software patents
  • Advised educational institutions on how to avoid claims of patent infringement and design alternatives
  • Prepared and negotiated license agreements on behalf of licensors whom own curriculum to their respective licensee schools
  • Reviewed and negotiated license agreement for charter schools and educational institutions who are licensing curricula from third parties
  • Prepared and negotiated license agreements related to third party curriculum providers whom license curricula including textbooks, software programs, and other educational materials to schools or other educational institutions and EMOs
  • Negotiated vendor contracts and service agreements on behalf of charter schools and other educational institutions
  • Managed domestic and international trademark portfolios on behalf of educational institutions
  • Represented charter schools and educational institutions in various intellectual property infringement actions, including Oppositions at the U.S. Trademark Trial and Appeal Board and various foreign trademark offices, including the Canadian Intellectual Property Office and the OHIM in Europe
  • Assisted with the negotiation of naming rights for sporting venues on behalf of educational institutions


  • Assisted with several accreditation matters involving a for-profit college’s doctoral program at several campuses
  • Assisted a for-profit college in the preparation of responses to comments from site visits and/or notice of intent to place a program on probationary status.
  • Served as counsel to a private non-profit business school on accreditation matters

Labor and Employment

  • Represented a large public university in numerous disputes over employment issues, health insurance reimbursement, theft of intellectual property and the use of animals in research
  • Represented a for-profit professional school in a federal court case involving federal aid administration claims
  • Assisted a large for-profit university systems with the design and implementation of an alternative dispute resolution policy and set of procedures that we believe will greatly reduce the number of employment-related lawsuits faced by the company
  • Prepared immigrant visas for outstanding professors and research professionals for several educational institutions

Employee Benefits

  • Counseled a large public university on a broad range of employee benefits issues
  • Counseled a large for-profit university on employee benefits, executive compensation and reduction in force matters

Real Estate

  • Represented an education provider in developing a multi-phase mixed-use project that included office and retail space, a parking structure and multifamily housing
  • Represented a university in connection with the sale and lease of property for a mixed-use project
  • Represented a university in the acquisition of a large plant used to perform research
  • Represented a developer in the acquisition and initial planning of a technology park and start-up incubator by means of a joint venture with the U.S. government and a state university
  • Represented an education-related developer in property assemblage for wet lab and biomedical research space
  • Represented a hospital in connection with the development of two campuses, including the acquisition and sale of unimproved and improved real property, ground leases for development of medical office buildings and review and negotiation of construction contracts


  • Assisted a for-profit law school with voluntary disclosure process involving sales tax issues

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