Insight Center: News

Freeh Group and Pepper Hamilton Consolidate Deep Bench of Experience with Education Counseling, Litigation and Investigative Services Team



William L. McCusker
Chief Marketing Officer
Pepper Hamilton LLP
Omar Y. McNeill, Esq.
Pepper Hamilton LLP

Philadelphia, PA – December 13, 2012 – At a time when nationally renowned universities and other educational institutions are under increasing scrutiny, the law firm of Pepper Hamilton LLP and the global risk management firm Freeh Group International Solutions, LLC (FGIS) have coalesced a team of highly skilled lawyers, investigators and other professionals with significant experience advising educational institutions on issues ranging from high-profile allegations of wrongdoing to the intricacies of complying with complex federal regulations.

The firms’ Education Counseling, Litigation and Investigative Services Team is composed of highly experienced litigators, former law enforcement officers and federal and state prosecutors, and other professionals who for a number of years have advised educational institutions on highly complex and sensitive matters, according to Nina M. Gussack, chair of Pepper’s Executive Committee. The team is the latest example of collaboration between Pepper and FGIS to expand services to clients since Pepper’s merger in September, 2012 with Louis J. Freeh’s law firm, Freeh Sporkin & Sullivan, LLP, and its acquisition of FGIS.

“Schools of all stripes – from universities and colleges to public school districts – face unique risks and challenges in their mission of educating students,” Gussack said. “Not only are they subject to the same litigation risks as any other business or organization, but they also must comply with unique state and federal laws and regulations governing civil rights, crime reporting, privacy, student discipline, financial management and many other complex issues.”

Gussack said that Pepper and FGIS have worked, both independently and together, advising educational institutions on these issues. “Formally combining our resources in this Education Counseling, Litigation and Investigative Services Team allows us to bring unique resources to bear on a client’s behalf in a seamless way,” Gussack said. “It also gives us a platform to increase our proactive client education and counseling efforts that can help prevent problems before they occur.”

Louis Freeh, former FBI Director and now a partner at Pepper, added that another advantage the team brings to education clients is independent, objective judgment.

“It’s critical for institutions to have independent legal counsel in these types of situations,” Freeh said. “Independent counsel can provide the objective viewpoint and highly specialized fact-finding experience needed to assess any gaps in compliance programs and to chart the proper course for response. The combination of FGIS and Pepper brings that independence, and a strong track record of integrity and judgment.”

All of the members of the Education Counseling, Litigation and Investigative Services Team are experienced in advising higher education institutions in connection with a variety of threats. The experience of the Education Counseling, Litigation and Investigative Services Team includes:

  • advising on board governance and oversight of institution management, and advising institutional management on effective risk management programs and policies
  • assessing any gaps in compliance programs that could lead to allegations of sexual abuse or harassment, student/faculty misconduct, criminal matters, discrimination, financial improprieties, violations of federal and state regulations, safety and security problems, and numerous other issues
  • counseling on athletic department compliance with NCAA and regional athletic conference rules and requirements
  • counseling on institutional compliance with federal and state laws, including the Clery Act, Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act, Title IX, Title VII, the First Amendment, charitable immunity acts, and disability laws
  • counseling and advising university boards on the Internal Revenue Code, executive compensation and endowment issues
  • advising on the wide range of day-to-day legal issues that confront today's educational institutions, from labor and employment to construction, intellectual property, procurement, and student affairs issues
  • serving as an independent monitor for institutions that are subject to a consent decree or court order requiring oversight of their compliance efforts
  • counseling on admissions policies and procedures
  • creating, revising and implementing compliance programs, disciplinary codes, and policies on such topics as athletic department compliance, safety and security, student-faculty relations, sexual harassment, hazing, drug and alcohol abuse, and off-campus behavior, and
  • defending educational institutions against inquiries from various regulators.

About Pepper Hamilton

Pepper Hamilton LLP is a multi-practice law firm with more than 500 lawyers nationally. The firm provides corporate, litigation and regulatory legal services to leading businesses, governmental entities, nonprofit organizations and individuals throughout the nation and the world. The firm was founded in 1890.

About Freeh Group International Solutions, LLC

Freeh Group International Solutions, LLC is an independent global risk management firm serving in the areas of business integrity and compliance, safety and security, and investigations and due diligence. FGIS was founded by Louis J. Freeh, former director of the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) and former federal judge, and was acquired by Pepper Hamilton in 2012.