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Independent Schools

Our school law attorneys use a proactive approach to counsel our more-than-30 independent school clients, including boarding and day schools, Montessori schools, Waldorf schools and religiously affiliated schools.

We have been Counsel to the Connecticut Association of Independent Schools for over 20 years, representing many of its member schools directly in a wide range of legal issues such as student admissions and discipline, faculty relations, fund development and charitable giving, mandated reporting, real property tax exemption, corporate governance, finance, environmental land use and a wide variety of litigation and labor issues.

Our attorneys understand the complex issues and the unique nature of the independent school environment, including all aspects of boarding school communities. As a full-service law firm, we provide integrated counsel and support on matters of particular interest and importance to our independent school clients, in a timely and cost-effective manner. Our work with independent schools includes matters related to:

  • ADA accommodations and claims
  • Admissions and enrollment
  • Business contracts (enrollment and others)
  • Charitable giving and contributions
  • Crisis management
  • Cybersecurity and data breaches
  • Discrimination, harassment, bullying and hazing
  • Employment matters
  • Faculty and student relations
  • Governance policies
  • HIPAA/FERPA
  • Housing matters
  • Immigration
  • Intellectual property
  • International travel/field trips
  • Investments
  • Investigations
  • Mandated reporting
  • Pension and employee benefits
  • Real estate, environmental and construction
  • Risk management
  • Criminal matters
  • Sexual harassment
  • Social media
  • Student conduct
  • Student discipline
  • Student health issues
  • Student, faculty, and employee handbooks and policies
  • Student safety
  • Tax and tax-exempt status
  • Trustee confidentiality agreements
  • Uniform Prudent Management of Institutional Funds Act (UPMIFA)

We conduct regular on-site professional development and training workshops on a variety of legal issues and matters of concern, including:

  • ADA and Accommodations
  • Bullying, Harassment and Mandated Reporting 
  • Data Privacy, Security and Regulatory Compliance
  • Legislative Updates
  • Sexual Harassment Prevention
  • Social Media Use by Students and Faculty
  • Confidentiality and Student Information
  • Student and Faculty Misconduct and Professional Boundaries
  • Enrollment Contracts
  • Risk Assessment and Management
  • Student Trips and Travel

For more information and to schedule an on-site training, visit our Professional Development and Training Workshops page.

Faculty and Student Matters
Our attorneys understand the unique relationship between faculty and students at independent schools.  We are experienced in providing practical and legal advice on the range of issues that schools face on a daily basis, including issues relating to professional boundaries, student health, confidentiality, student disciplinary matters, sexual harassment and bullying, and mandated reporting.  In addition, we routinely assist our school clients in developing legally compliant handbooks, and counsel on compliance with laws affecting faculty and students, such as the ADA and other civil rights laws. 

Governance 
Critical to the operation of independent schools is the proper functioning of their boards. We routinely advise boards on best practices in governance and policy development, including review of bylaws and conflict of interest policies.  We are frequently asked to provide counsel and assistance on crisis management, including communications, media relations, and community response.

Labor and Employment
Employment issues at independent schools can be complex, given the varied and multiple roles of faculty and staff.  Our attorneys are exceptionally experienced on advising our schools on the full range of employment matters, from hiring practices and employment policies, to handbooks, proper employee classification, contracts, employee discipline and terminations.  Schools rely on us to handle all aspects of employment disputes from administrative proceedings to litigation in state and federal court.  In addition, our pension and employee benefits attorneys provide our independent school clients with specialized advice with respect to all aspects of employee benefits, as well as executive compensation and similar matters.

Finance, Investments, Taxation and Tax-Exemption
Our attorneys advise our independent school clients on all their finance matters, including tax-exempt financing through the State of Connecticut Health and Educational Facilities Authority.  We assist with federal, state and local tax compliance and taxation issues involving charitable giving, as well advise on financial issues that relate to scholarship and tuition remission programs, tax-exempt status, unrelated business taxable income, employee housing, Head of School compensation, sales and use tax exposure, and real and personal property tax exemptions.

We have comprehensive experience with the management and compliance of endowment funds and investments. Shipman & Goodwin partner Barry Hawkins served as the Chairman of the Uniform Law Commission that drafted the Uniform Prudent Management of Institutional Funds Act (UPMIFA) and conducts a national practice on UPMIFA compliance.  As such, the firm’s depth in the area of endowment funds and investments is unique.

Real Estate 
Our independent school clients frequently rely on us to provide legal representation on a variety of real estate matters, including the acquisition, development and management of property, planning and zoning, conveyancing, leasing, environmental compliance, and risk management.

Intellectual Property
Our intellectual property attorneys advise clients on sophisticated issues, such as trademarks, licensing and registration, copyright infringement, and data privacy counseling.  We counsel independent schools in the areas of software contract negotiation, consulting agreements, internet, e-mail and social media issues, and website development. 

Attorneys

Donna L. Brooks
Partner
dbrooks@goodwin.com
(860) 251-5917
Hartford Office
Raymond J. Casella
Partner
rcasella@goodwin.com
(860) 251-5808
Hartford Office
Christine L. Chipman
Partner
cchipman@goodwin.com
(860) 251-5048
Hartford Office
Bruce A. Chudwick
Partner
bchudwick@goodwin.com
(860) 251-5114
Hartford Office
Brian Clemow
Partner
bclemow@goodwin.com
(860) 251-5711
Hartford Office
Richard I. Cohen
Partner
rcohen@goodwin.com
(860) 251-5803
Hartford Office
Leander A. Dolphin
Partner
ldolphin@goodwin.com
(860) 251-5086
Hartford Office
Brenda A. Eckert
Partner
beckert@goodwin.com
(860) 251-5712
Hartford Office
Julie C. Fay
Partner
jfay@goodwin.com
(860) 251-5009
Hartford Office
Danielle P. Ferrucci
Partner
dferrucci@goodwin.com
(860) 251-5105
Hartford Office
Laura A. Fisher
Associate
lfisher@goodwin.com
860-251-5613
Hartford Office
Melika S. Forbes
Associate
mforbes@goodwin.com
(203) 324-8159
Stamford Office
Stephen M. Forte
Counsel
sforte@goodwin.com
(212) 376-3015
New York Office
Barry C. Hawkins
Partner
bhawkins@goodwin.com
(203) 324-8104
Stamford Office
Gabriel J. Jiran
Partner
gjiran@goodwin.com
(860) 251-5520
Hartford Office
Anne H. Littlefield
Partner
alittlefield@goodwin.com
(860) 251-5715
Hartford Office
Peter J. Murphy
Partner
pjmurphy@goodwin.com
(860) 251-5950
Hartford Office
Jessica L. Ritter
Partner
jritter@goodwin.com
(860) 251-5034
Hartford Office
William J. Roberts
Partner
wroberts@goodwin.com
(860) 251-5051
Hartford Office
Morgan P. Rueckert
Partner
mrueckert@goodwin.com
860-251-5821
Hartford Office
Joseph P. Williams
Partner
jwilliams@goodwin.com
(203) 836-2804
New Haven Office
Hartford Office
Linda L. Yoder
Partner
lyoder@goodwin.com
(860) 251-5717
Hartford Office
Henry J. Zaccardi
Counsel
hzaccardi@goodwin.com
(860) 251-5737
Hartford Office
Gwen J. Zittoun
Counsel
gzittoun@goodwin.com
(860) 251-5523
Hartford Office

Events

November 30 - December 2, 2017  2017 TABS Annual Conference
October 3, 2017  Webinar: Mandated Reporting in Connecticut - Understanding Legal Obligations and Best Practice
September 23, 2017  2017 CAIS Annual Conference on Governance
September 13, 2017  Webinar: A Legal Primer: Tax and Charitable Giving for Independent Schools
August 22, 2017  Connecticut Independent Schools Employment Law: Background Check Requirements
June 28, 2017  CLE Event: Webinar: The Lender Asked for What? Understanding Loan Documents From the Borrower's Perspective
March 29, 2017  United Educators Nutmeg Group/CAIS Risk Management Forum: Independent School Medical Issues
February 15, 2017  Webinar: The Essential Guide for 401(k) and 403(b) Plan Administrators for Independent Schools
October 14, 2016  2016 NAIS-TABS Legal Symposium: Student Discipline in the Cyber-Age
June 14, 2016  Transgender Issues in Independent Schools
March 31, 2016  United Educators Risk Management Forum, Nutmeg Group: Legal Perspectives on Social Media
March 31, 2016  The Intersection of Sports and Education Law
March 28, 2016  Drawing the Line: Legal Issues and Professional Boundaries in Independent Schools
February 24 – 26, 2016  2016 NAIS Annual Conference
November 12 - 13, 2015  2015 CAIS Annual Conference for Heads of School
November 10, 2015  United Educators Risk Management Forum, Cranberry Group: Sexual Misconduct in Independent Schools
October 16, 2015  Drawing the Line: Respect, Boundaries and the Law in Independent Schools
September 26, 2015  Update on Current Legal Issues for Independent Schools
August 31, 2015  Mandated Reporting Training
August 31, 2015  Sexual Harassment Prevention Training for Independent Schools
July 13, 2015  Cyberbullying and Social Media in Independent Schools
May 13, 2015  Webinar: Top Tips for Accommodations under the ADA - Who's Ready for Summer Camp?
April 14, 2015  Hot Topics and Legal Trends in Independent Schools
November 4, 2016  Cyberbullying and Social Media in Independent Schools
November 3, 2014  Bullying and Social Media: Understanding the Challenges and Consequences for Students
October 11, 2014  Peer Relationships: Legal Considerations for Students at Independent Schools
June 25 - June 27, 2014  2014 Independent School Conference on Law and Policy
April 29, 2013  The Legal Implications of the Hotchkiss Decision: Best NEW Practices in Risk Management from a Legal Perspective
March 29, 2012  Tax Essentials for Independent Schools
October 25, 2011  Lorman National Teleconference: Barry Hawkins Presents on the topic of Uniform Prudent Management of Institutional Funds Act (UPMIFA)
October 1, 2011  Connecticut Association of Independent Schools (CAIS) Conference for Trustees
May 25, 2011  Lorman National Teleconference: Barry Hawkins Presents on the topic of Uniform Prudent Management of Institutional Funds Act (UPMIFA)
April 6, 2011  Lorman National Teleconference: Barry Hawkins Presents on the topic of Uniform Prudent Management of Institutional Funds Act (UPMIFA)
January 13, 2011  Seminar for Independent Schools - Bullying, Social Media and Misconduct: Student Discipline in the Cyber Age
November 8, 2010  Commission on Independent Colleges and Universities: Barry Hawkins Presents on the topic of Uniform Prudent Management of Institutional Funds Act (UPMIFA) Implementation in Other States
October 19, 2010  Lorman National Teleconference: Barry Hawkins Presents on the topic of Uniform Prudent Management of Institutional Funds Act (UPMIFA)
September 16, 2010  Webinar: Non-Profit Endowments and FAS 117-1 Compliance Challenges: Making Tough Decisions on Asset Classification and Disclosures
June 23, 2010  Lorman National Teleconference: Barry Hawkins Presents on the topic of Uniform Prudent Management of Institutional Funds Act (UPMIFA)
April 28, 2010  Lorman National Teleconference: Barry Hawkins Presents on the topic of Uniform Prudent Management of Institutional Funds Act (UPMIFA)
November 5, 2009  Connecticut Association of Independent Schools (CAIS) Annual Heads of School Conference
September 26, 2009  Trustees' Conference: Emerging Trends in Facility Design
June 12, 2006  2006 CBA Annual Meeting Connecticut Labor and Employment Law Developments 2005-2006
April 15, 2005  Connecticut Association of Independent Schools: "Legal Issues in Independent Schools"
December 9, 2004  Legal Climate for Independent Schools
March 2004  An Eagle Eye View of Employment Law Issues for Connecticut Independent Schools
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