Higher Education

Featured Publication:

COVID-19 Amplifies Unique Issues For Student Housing

Mitchell Poole authored an article published by Law360 that examines the unique business and legal issues that distinguish student housing from traditional multifamily housing facilities, and discusses how the COVID-19 pandemic has amplified those issues and affected the economics of off-campus student housing.


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, immigration, employment counseling and compliance, 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 Care 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.



COVID-19 Amplifies Unique Issues For Student Housing

September 08, 2020

Mitchell Poole authored an article published by Law360 that examines the unique business and legal issues that distinguish student housing from traditional multifamily housing facilities, and discusses how the COVID-19 pandemic has amplified those issues and affected the economics of off-campus student housing.

NLRB Severely Limits Jurisdiction Over Religious Schools [Alert]

June 16, 2020

Mike Hanlon, Steve Millman, and Austin Dieter discuss the NLRB's decision in Bethany College.

COVID-Driven Commercial Litigation – What Businesses Can Expect

May 08, 2020

Adam Schlatner and Michael de Leeuw discuss potential COVID-19 related litigation, based on what is already happening and the legacy of other downturns.

Memo from NLRB General Counsel Reveals New Priorities, with Encouraging Signs for Universities [Labor & Employment Alert]

December 07, 2017

Jake Rubinstein discusses how the NLRB's new General Counsel Peter Robb may shift positions taken by his predecessor and how that impacts colleges and universities.

Events & Seminars

Past Events

Labor Relations in the Trump Era

June 23, 2019 - Denver, CO

Sports Law for Rookies & Veterans 2018

June 06, 2018 - Minneapolis, MN

Legal Issues in Higher Education Conference

October 09, 2017 - Burlington, VT

2017 Thomas More College Inaugural Conference

July 18, 2017 - Crestview Hills, KY

NACUA Annual Conference 2017

June 25, 2017 - Chicago, IL

In The News

138 Cozen O’Connor Attorneys Named to the Best Lawyers in America

August 28, 2019

Best Lawyers selected 138 Cozen O’Connor lawyers from 21 of the firm’s national offices for inclusion in the 2020 edition of The Best Lawyers in America.

Cozen O’Connor Continues to Expand its National Labor & Employment Practice, Adding Veteran Attorney Daniel V. Johns

January 24, 2019

Johns Will Play a Key Role in Growing the Firm’s Higher Education Industry Team

Cozen O’Connor Attorney Anna Wermuth Named one of Chicago’s “Most Notable Women Lawyers”

July 30, 2018

Anna Wermuth, co-chair of Cozen O’Connor’s Higher Education Industry Practice Group, and vice chair of the law firm’s Labor & Employment Department, has been honored for the second year in a row by Crain’s Chicago Business.

Cozen O’Connor Continues to Expand National Labor & Employment Department and Denver office, Adding Jake Rubinstein, Formerly of University of Chicago

September 18, 2017

Cozen O’Connor continues to grow its national Labor & Employment Department and adds a new practice area to its Denver office as Jake Rubinstein, former Executive Director of Employee & Labor Relations at the University of Chicago, joins as a member in the firm’s Denver office.

Cozen O’Connor Continues to Grow National Labor & Employment Department and Pittsburgh Office with Addition of Former University of Pittsburgh Counsel Alan Pittler

September 05, 2017

Pittler will handle all aspects of management-side labor and employment law matters for higher education clients as well as those in other sectors, including hospitality, health care, technology and energy.

Cozen O’Connor Welcomes Devon Turner Riley to its Institutional Response Group

August 07, 2017

Firm Continues to Expand its Practice, Which Helps Institutions Respond to Sexual and Gender-based Harassment and Violence, Child and Elder Abuse, and Other Misconduct

College Lawyers Say Title IX Process Must Be Fair to Both Parties

June 26, 2017

Leslie Gomez, a member of Cozen O'Connor's Institutional Response Group, discusses Title IX in The Chronicle of Higher Education.

Who Universities Bring to the Bargaining Table

February 23, 2017

Anna Wermuth and Joe Tilson, vice chair and chair of Cozen O'Connor's Labor & Employment department, discuss their involvement in the higher education industry in this Chicago Daily Law Bulletin article.

Departmental Grad Assistant Organizing May Succeed

October 20, 2016

Anna Wermuth, vice chair of Cozen O'Connor's Labor & Employment department, discusses departmental grad assistant organizing in BNA.

Higher Education Becomes the Poster Child for Overtime Rule Concerns

July 19, 2016

Joe Tilson discusses the Department of Labor’s Fair Labor Standards Act, which will have a significant impact on higher education institutions.


Maureen P. Holland



(215) 665-5548

Mariah L. Passarelli



(412) 620-6502

Alan M. Pittler



(412) 620-6540


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