Higher Education

Williams & Connolly has extensive experience guiding educational institutions through their most sensitive and significant legal matters.

The firm has represented colleges and universities on matters involving torts, contract disputes, corporate governance, antitrust, employment, labor law, intellectual property, First Amendment free exercise of religion and free expression, charitable gifts, land use, zoning, student and faculty grievance and disciplinary procedures, university-owned hospitals, and federal legislation, including Title IX and the Solomon Amendment. 

We are proud to have represented more than twenty elite colleges and universities, including Notre Dame University, Brown University, Catholic University of America, George Washington University, Georgetown University, Princeton University, Tulane University, University of Michigan, University of Pittsburgh, Villanova University, and Yale University. 

Representative Experience

Our recent representations include:

  • Brown University, in one of several dozen putative class actions filed across the country against colleges and universities in connection with the transition to remote and online classes when the Covid-19 pandemic arose in the Spring 2020 semester.
  • University of Notre Dame, in an antitrust lawsuit accusing major universities of participating in price-fixing and artificially inflating the amount students who receive financial aid pay for undergraduate studies.
  • University of Michigan, lead counsel in defending against a lawsuit brought by the advocacy group Speech First, Inc., which claimed that the University’s policies with respect to harassment, bullying, and incidents of bias violate the First Amendment. 
  • Catholic University of America, successful defense at trial against a professor’s allegations of breach of his tenure contract and violation of his academic freedom, after the Pope declared the professor unfit to teach Catholic theology in the religious studies school and the university arranged for him to teach the same course in the liberal arts school as “Social Ethics.”
  • University of Pittsburgh, in a dispute over the inventorship of a patent jointly assigned to the University of Pittsburgh and the University of California relating to adult stem cells derived from fat tissue. We also represented the university on appeal in the Federal Circuit, which affirmed the district court ruling in favor of our client.
  • A private research university, with respect to college athletics partnerships.
  • A private university, in relation to its partnership with a global technology company.
  • A private research university, with respect to its engagement of a new host for a nationally distributed radio talk show.
  • Two major private universities, with respect to the termination of the university president.
  • A state university, advice on how to respond to a request by a white supremacist to speak on campus.
  • Conducted an internal investigation of alleged sexual misconduct by the football coach at a major private university
  • Advice to universities concerning coaching contracts, conference agreements and conference realignment, compliance with National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) rules and policies, and other issues related to their sports programs.
  • Advice to public and private universities concerning recent antitrust litigation concerning student athletes, efforts to unionize student-athletes, state laws and NCAA policies concerning compensation to players for their names, images, and likenesses, collectives that facilitate compensation to student-athletes, and related business and legal issues.
  • Successful defense of Establishment Clause challenge to federal construction grants to church-related colleges and universities.
  • A university law school in response to an American Association of Law Schools (AALS) inquiry into an admission data reporting issue.
  • Defense of university against a defamation and wrongful termination suit.
  • University hospitals in medical malpractice cases.

Williams & Connolly Shortlisted for 2024 "General Commercial Firm of the Year" by Benchmark Litigation

Williams & Connolly Shortlisted for 2024 "General Commercial Firm of the Year" by Benchmark Litigation

Benchmark Litigation Recognizes Williams & Connolly Attorneys and Practice Groups in 2024 Rankings

Benchmark Litigation Recognizes Williams & Connolly Attorneys and Practice Groups in 2024 Rankings
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