Higher Education

LEADERSHIP: Michael E. Baughman

Some of our recent work for colleges, universities and other educational institution clients includes:

Litigation and Government Investigations

  • representing numerous colleges and universities throughout the country in Title IX claims arising out of student sexual misconduct cases, involving both complainants and respondents. Pepper has obtained dismissals as well as favorable resolutions for our clients in these cases.
  • representing numerous colleges and universities throughout the country in Department of Education investigations arising out of sexual misconduct cases, involving claims under both Title IX and the Clery Act.
  • obtaining dismissal in a claim involving a graduate student expelled for academic misconduct, which was affirmed by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit.
  • representing a college in a libel action brought against a student newspaper.
  • representing a college in a claim brought by an expelled student alleging race discrimination under Title VI.
  • defending a university and members of the university police department in claims of officer abuse.
  • representing a university in civil litigation and a criminal investigation involving an alcohol-related incident connected to on-campus fraternity hazing.
  • representing a university in a civil litigation and criminal investigation involving a drug-related student death on campus.
  • representing a university in civil litigation regarding an alcohol-related death of an alumnus on campus.
  • defending a college against claims by nursing students challenging their dismissal from school on the basis of breach of contract or discrimination.
  • representing a university in defense of an indemnity claim brought by a former chief financial officer who was sued for individual negligence while serving as a bank director.
  • representing a university in seeking to perfect title over materials placed on deposit with a university’s archives.
  • representing a university with regard to a large financial pledge made to the school that was contested by the beneficiaries of the pledger’s estate.
  • representing a specialty medical center whose medical residents were enrolled in the medical school of a local university regarding potential fraud and abuse enforcement actions.
  • representing a school and related institutions in sexual abuse claims, including claims by students asserted against employees and claims of student-on-student sexual abuse.
  • defending a residential school in claims by a student regarding alleged exposure to environmental hazards.
  • representing a school in claims against it regarding the supervision of students.
  • defending a claim related to a school’s search of a student.
  • representing schools regarding the termination of students’ enrollment and the application of student discipline policies.

Labor and Employment

  • representing a college in race and age discrimination claims involving a terminated employee.
  • designing and defending affirmative action and RIF programs for organizations of all sizes.
  • counseling a private college regarding the continuation of professional staff positions and departments.
  • representing a major private university in internal adjudication of a student’s sexual harassment allegations against a faculty member.
  • representing a leading university in its removal of a tenured faculty member in a case involving sensitive issues relating to federal grant monies, due process hearings and potential adverse publicity.
  • representing a college in a widely publicized sexual harassment case involving Title IX sex discrimination and breach of contract claims.
  • representing a private college in a union-organizing campaign and in defense against unfair labor practice charges.


  • serving as outside general counsel to several educational institutions, providing daily advice on issues affecting colleges and universities, including student affairs advice; faculty affairs advice; regulatory advice, such as Title IX, the Clery Act and FERPA; contract negotiations; and board governance issues.
  • representing several colleges in connection with presidential contract negotiations.
  • providing guidance on college and university policies and procedures related to student conduct, governance and Title IX.
  • conducting trainings for student leaders, staff and faculty on Title IX compliance.
  • providing regular advice to boards of trustees on best governance practices and compliance with not-for-profit laws.
  • serving as general counsel to a nonprofit subsidiary of a private university that is focused on research and development of technology.
  • representing a private university in reviewing offering documents for various potential endowment investments.
  • negotiating, drafting and rendering advice concerning design and construction contracts for a number of colleges and universities.
  • representing a major state-supported college in construction litigation and related issues.
  • representing a private library foundation in negotiating and drafting project management, design and construction contracts for a major multisite renovation and upgrade of library facilities.
  • representing a private Catholic university in construction litigation resulting from claims against a contractor for defective workmanship in university library construction.
  • representing a major state-related university (in conjunction with co-counsel) in its successful effort to obtain a certificate of need to build a pediatric hospital in combination with another hospital.
  • representing a major state-related university in drafting and spearheading the passage of legislation allowing the construction of a convocation center/arena to move forward.
  • providing general retirement plan counseling for several public and private schools, colleges and universities.
  • handling plan design and ongoing compliance issues for tax-sheltered annuity 403(b) plans, including Department of Labor and IRS compliance requirements.
  • providing advice on rules that extended tax-qualified 401(k) plans to educational institutions and other tax-exempt organizations.
  • handling multiemployer pension plan design, withdrawals and workouts, including related litigation.
  • providing advice on and review of executive and deferred compensation issues unique to tax-exempt organizations, including unfunded arrangements and uses of split-dollar and other life insurance policies.
  • providing general health and welfare benefit plan counseling, including documentation and communications concerning COBRA coverage, changes in union-negotiated benefits and disputes over coverage.
  • providing design of and advice on managed care arrangements, employee-funded retiree health arrangements and self-insured health plans.
  • providing counseling on compensation and benefit issues in university hospital and medical office affiliations.
  • representing benefit plan trustees in plan administration and fiduciary litigation, including awards of attorneys’ fees.
  • responding to a data breach and assisting the institution with performing a root cause analysis, issuing notification letters and interacting with local law enforcement.

Intellectual Property

  • representing universities in connection with their technology transfer programs, including license and sponsored research transactions, and related equity features.
  • preparing, filing and prosecuting domestic and foreign patents in the biotechnology, chemical and pharmaceutical arts.
  • preparing and negotiating contractual agreements, including sponsored research agreements, material transfer agreements, license and collaborative research agreements, corporate partnering arrangements and related opportunities.
  • handling dispute resolution, including inventorship and ownership disputes.
  • handling litigation, including enforcement of patent rights, and interference proceedings to determine priority of invention and foreign patent oppositions.
  • representing a private university in connection with several large computer system procurements.


  • providing ongoing advice to a major university concerning the “unrelated business taxable income” ramifications of investments in various limited partnerships.
  • advising a private college on the structuring of major gifts and bequests to the college.
  • advising a college concerning the federal income tax and local real estate consequences of creating a regional swimming facility to be used by the college and the general public.
  • providing tax advice on tuition and fellowship benefits, and fringe benefits provided to employees.

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