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Higher Education

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Spencer Fane Higher education attorneys help universities resolve the complex legal issues that are unique to institutions of higher education.

We have represented dozens of institutions of higher education, nonprofit organizations and related governance organizations, including the NCAA and a Division I athletic conference. Spencer Fane attorneys have provided universities with a wide range of counsel including governance, policies and procedures, and major litigation.

We have acted as outside investigators and advisors in high profile cases at large institutions, and have helped many smaller institutions deal with similar issues through assisting existing administrators and staff.

We also help universities protect their investments by assisting with transactional issues such as vendor and employment contracts, intercollegiate sports and intellectual property.

We have helped institutions of higher learning with the following legal issues:

Title IX

  • Acted as outside counsel to investigate institutional responses to sexual assault cases at major Division I universities
  • Assisted institutions with Title IX complaint issues and acted as external Title IX investigators to assist major Division I universities

General Counsel and Governance

  • Acted as outside general counsel for universities without in-house staffs
  • Assisted in the updating of institutional best practices at all levels, including board policies, internal procedures and other governance issues and general operational policies and procedures
  • Assisted in development of incentive compensation programs (including enrollment based incentives compliant with financial aid guidelines)
  • Assisted institutions with accreditation issues
  • Assisted in development of educational programs and establishment of schools in other countries in cooperation with foreign educational organizations


  • Litigated major sports cases involving NCAA status and defended institutional interests in NCAA investigations
  • Assisted institutions in issues surrounding coaches’ and other senior athletic leadership’s contracts

Intellectual Property

  • Assisted in the protection of proprietary information and trademarks


  • Helped design tax-efficient and creative fundraising initiatives
  • Assisted in obtaining both tax exempt and taxable financing for operation and capital improvements

Labor and Employment

  • Managed and defended labor and employment issues
  • Negotiated and documented faculty contracts and preparation and revision of faculty handbooks