Educational institutions face many of the same business and legal challenges as other corporate entities, and, like corporations, they need sophisticated full-service law firms with deep transactional, corporate and regulatory capabilities. But educational institutions are very different from other corporations in terms of culture, mission, priorities and structure. Schools need legal counsel who understand that too.
Cozen O’Connor has been working in education for almost two decades, and firm attorneys have experience representing a wide array of academic clients: large public and private universities, small independent colleges and universities, private secondary schools, community colleges, charter schools and other academic institutions. Our industry group includes attorneys from a diverse set of practice areas, including real estate, public and project finance, energy, health, internal investigations, intellectual property, commercial litigation, government affairs, and labor and employment.
As part of the firm’s commitment to total engagement with the higher education industry, Cozen O’Connor attorneys not only serve as legal counsel, but also serve as university and college trustees, adjunct faculty, educational consultants and alumni representatives. They track industry-wide developments, attend educational events, and lecture and write on related topics.
Labor & Employment. As one of the largest employers in the nation, the education industry as a whole must focus a great deal of attention on the management of its human resources. Cozen O’Connor’s labor and employment attorneys have direct experience working on the array of issues most relevant to educational clients: contract negotiations, unionization, NLRB disputes, employment discrimination and harassment claims, tenure challenges, and employee benefits.
Intellectual Property. By definition, educational institutions are incubators for creativity, innovation, and discovery. Cozen O’Connor’s lawyers work closely with academic clients to ensure that their intellectual property rights are properly enumerated and protected. We can handle the full range of IP issues, including patent prosecution and defense, trademark and copyright management, branding rights, licensing and technology transfers.
Institutional Response Group. Our Institutional Response attorneys have decades of experience conducting high-profile investigations into sexual and gender-based harassment and violence, child abuse, and other forms of misconduct, and assisting institutions in implementing trauma-informed, fair and impartial prevention and resolution processes.
Real Estate. Developing and maintaining attractive, modern, state-of-the-art facilities is a priority for all well-managed educational institutions. Cozen O’Connor’s nationally renowned Real Estate group has direct experience working with education clients on acquisition, leasing, construction, renovation, and public-private partnerships in the development of classrooms, laboratories, administrative buildings, athletic facilities, student housing/dormitories, apartments, and mixed-use retail and residential properties. We have represented clients in their most complex or controversial projects, and advise in areas ranging from finance to land use.
Utility, Environmental & Energy. Cozen O’Connor’s team of utility, environmental & energy attorneys handle the full range of regulatory, transactional, and litigation matters related to electricity, natural gas, steam and water/wastewater. We have guided higher education institutions in the development of combined heat and power projects, represented their interests in utility rate proceedings, contested utility demands for contributions in aid of construction, filed complaints related to quality and reliability of service, and negotiated favorable agreements for the purchase of electric generation and natural gas supply.
Health. The Health group has experience representing educational institutions that are connected to hospitals and major medical centers. We have broad regulatory, litigation and transactional experience. Among the issues we regularly handle are payer disputes, False Claims Act litigation, HIPAA/HITECH issues, Medicaid/Medicare/third-party reimbursement, provider-payer relations, provider-based issues, and mergers, acquisitions and restructurings.
Public & Project Finance. The firm’s Public & Project Finance Group has handled more than $10 billion in bond financings for educational institutions since 2005. We have served as bond counsel, underwriter’s counsel, borrower’s counsel and placement agent counsel on complex transactions valued at many hundreds of millions of dollars.
Internal Investigations & Risk Management. Firm attorneys are frequently called upon to conduct sensitive internal investigations and to respond to government inquiries. We have been involved with campus investigations concerning allegations of misconduct or criminal conduct and have a track record of helping clients achieve productive rather than simply punitive outcomes. We also work preventively with clients to conduct policy audits and design internal protocols and codes of conduct that serve to prevent misconduct and manage risk.
Commercial Litigation. We are, first and foremost, a trial firm. Our litigators have more collective trial experience than any other litigation group in the country, and they appear in courts in various jurisdictions on a daily basis. We have the capability to represent education clients in any type of commercial litigation — and we’ve handled everything from construction contract disputes to professional liability actions to personal injury claims.
Public Strategies. A distinguishing feature of the firm is that we operate a premier bipartisan government relations firm based in Washington, D.C. Cozen O’Connor Public Strategies represents clients before U.S. federal, state and local governmental bodies. We advocate on behalf of educational clients with respect to projects, transactions, and broader policy initiatives. Our core strengths are an impressive network of relationships and a focus on practical solutions.