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Industry Focus: Higher Education

NJL’s higher education group brings together professionals from various disciplines to provide comprehensive legal services addressing the many unique needs of colleges and universities. Our bench depth stems from premier practices in the areas of nonprofit law, employment, health care, and immigration. Our group members have long-standing memberships in NACUA with recurrent speaking roles. One of our group members served as Dean of Hamline University School of Law for five years, giving a valuable in-house perspective to our practice.

The COVID-19 pandemic has presented higher education with a host of grave and complex issues to tackle. We have responded by tracking developments and advising clients on these novel challenges, including the employment implications of remote or hybrid teaching, permissible use of endowment funds, disputes over refunds of tuition and fees, immigration status of faculty and students, and more. We also recently have been advising clients with regard to the application of the new Title IX regulations.

Our expertise and knowledge have positioned our team to successfully represent higher education clients throughout the country in areas such as:

  • employee benefits
  • internal investigations
  • human resources counseling
  • employment litigation
  • creation of charitable giving programs
  • management and use of endowed funds
  • mergers and reorganizations
  • governance training and advice
  • responses to governmental investigations
  • contract disputes
  • temporary (nonimmigrant) visas for foreign-born employees
  • petitions for Permanent Residence for foreign-born professors and other professionals
  • J-1 waivers for university-sponsored foreign-born physicians, researchers, and scholars
  • bond financing


  • Represented private university in a successful Eighth Circuit reversal of a lower court’s duty of care standard for non-academic, student disciplinary matters.
  • Represented numerous college and university foundations regarding endowment fund management issues and compliance with the Uniform Prudent Management of Institutional Funds Act (“UPMIFA”).
  • Advised a private college on conflict of interest issues related to setting compensation of its executive team.
  • Advised a private college on issues related to the acquisition of an operating commercial building adjacent to campus.
  • Defended an appeal of a trial court decision related to sexual assault allegations.
  • Represented a university foundation in the creation of a Donor Advised Fund gift program.
  • Negotiated and prepared agreements for several major gift donations to colleges and universities across the country, including naming rights.
  • Represented a university foundation in the development of a gift policy manual, including the development of all major gift forms and policies.
  • Represented an NCAA Division III conference in a member reorganization.
  • Conducted investigation regarding allegations of academic fraud and other misconduct in a men’s basketball program.
  • Conducted inquiries directed by a Board of Regents into unauthorized disclosure of confidential and other alleged misconduct.
  • Supervised compliance reviews for academic health care centers and represented medical school leadership in response to government inquiries.
  • Advised a university regarding minority contracting policies.
  • Conducted internal employment investigations for several universities and a law school.
  • Served as counsel for the federal government in higher education desegregation cases in Louisiana, Mississippi, and North Carolina.
  • Served as counsel for the federal government in litigation against large universities in sex discrimination suit and expulsion of foreign students.
  • Conceived and wrote the Conrad State 20 program, granting to state health departments the ability to make foreign residence requirement waivers to foreign physicians (Conrad-20 became federal law and later expanded to become the “Conrad-30” program, used throughout the country).
  • Represented university physicians seeking J-1 waivers based on service in, and treating patients from, medically underserved areas.
  • Regularly present to foreign-born students, including those with Curricular Practical Training (CPT) and Optional Practical Training (OPT), on immigration options after graduation.
  • Worked with universities across the country to sponsor foreign-born professors through the permanent residence process.

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