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Colleges and Universities

Shipman & Goodwin’s school law attorneys represent leading colleges and universities throughout Connecticut and nationally. We represent higher education clients of all sizes, denominations and philosophies, including public and private colleges and universities, professional schools, medical schools, research universities, and performing and visual arts schools.

We advise our higher education clients on a full range of legal matters, including student issues, faculty issues, governance, finance, government relations, intellectual property, employment and labor relations, real estate, construction, environmental compliance and risk management, taxation, and technology.

In dealing with high-profile and sensitive issues, we recognize the importance of maintaining positive campus morale and reputation management.  We strive to anticipate and effectively address any potential collateral consequences of decisions or actions that might have an impact on these important factors.  Moreover, our attorneys are experienced in balancing confidentiality issues and Freedom of Information implications (where applicable) when handling high-visibility matters.

Our litigators advocate for our higher education clients on a national level, handling litigation of all types, including employment, collections, criminal investigations of student and faculty conduct, and defense of claims. We have achieved positive results on a number of high-profile cases before state and federal courts, including the U.S. Supreme Court.  On behalf of one of our university clients, we successfully defended a result in Connecticut Supreme Court, setting a national precedent as to a donor’s challenge to the use of charitable gifts. 

We routinely assist educational institutions in conducting internal investigations and defending against grand jury, legislative and agency investigations. We defend our education clients in a variety of litigation and problem-solving contexts, including sexual harassment and assault, Title IX, rape, use of force, and public safety issues. For example, we assisted university clients with criminal proceedings arising from an on-campus student riot.  We have also addressed situations involving accusations of student substance abuse, sexual assault, and other offenses. 

With a robust team of business and finance attorneys and a firm-wide focus on technology- and biotechnology-centric clients, we are able to provide unique insight to colleges and universities with potential interests in spin-off formations, organization, governance or financing. In addition, we regularly advise our university clients, their faculty and technology transfer offices in matters involving sponsored research and consulting agreements.

Employment and Labor Matters
We counsel higher education institutions on the full range of employment matters, including employment policies; employee and student handbooks; classification of employees; employment agreements; discrimination claims such as age, disability, race and sex claims; disciplinary procedures; tenure disputes; and layoffs and terminations.  We also represent clients in all areas of labor relations, including union activities, contract negotiation and administration.  We have advised clients regarding union-organizing campaigns and representation elections; collective bargaining and impasse-resolution procedures; strikes, lockouts, picketing, and other concerted activity; grievance and arbitration procedures; and defense of unfair labor practice claims. 

We represent clients in matters before the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, the Department of Justice, the Office for Civil Rights, the Office of Federal Contract Compliance, the Connecticut Commission on Human Rights and Opportunities, the Connecticut Department of Labor, and the National Labor Relations Board.  Our higher education clients also benefit from our experience with immigration law in staff hiring and retention, including the handling of visa applications.

Our attorneys advise higher education clients on best practices for the functioning of boards, bylaws, and conflict-of-interest policies. We counsel clients and their boards on crisis management, including corporate communications, media relations, and student relations. We also have extensive experience assisting colleges and universities with structuring and documenting ombuds programs.

Intellectual Property Matters
Our attorneys have handled a variety of intellectual property matters for a range of higher education clients across the country, including software contract negotiations; copyright counseling; intellectual property assignment/licensing agreements; trademark licensing, registration and counseling; data privacy counseling; research and consulting agreements; faculty inventions; commercialization of technology developed at the institution; non-compete agreements and non-disclosure issues; internet, e-mail and social media issues, and website development.

Real Estate, Environmental and Construction
Our real estate attorneys advise higher education clients on a variety of matters, including the acquisition, development and management of property; planning and zoning; conveyancing; and leasing.  Our construction attorneys assist our clients with respect to projects including academic buildings, dormitories, dining facilities, and athletic facilities.  In addition, we represent educational institutions on a wide range of energy/clean energy projects.

Our environmental, health and safety attorneys assist higher education clients with environmental, health and safety regulatory compliance; environmental permitting; financing; environmental insurance and risk management in construction matters; and business and real estate transactions.

We have broad experience with the regulatory aspects of contaminated properties, and we have extensive experience with site assessments, environmental auditing, reporting, record keeping and other compliance obligations under various programs governing asbestos, lead, PCBs, mold and other environmental, health and safety issues. 

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

  • ADA and Accommodations
  • Data Privacy, Security and Regulatory Compliance
  • Legislative Updates
  • Sexual Harassment Prevention
  • Social Media Use by Students and Faculty
  • Confidentiality and Student Information
  • Effective Response to Assault and Harassment Claims
  • Title IX Compliance
  • Student and Faculty Misconduct and Professional Boundaries
  • Enrollment Contracts

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


Laurann Asklof
(860) 251-5317
Hartford Office
Donna L. Brooks
(860) 251-5917
Hartford Office
Raymond J. Casella
(860) 251-5808
Hartford Office
Christine L. Chipman
(860) 251-5048
Hartford Office
Bruce A. Chudwick
(860) 251-5114
Hartford Office
Brian Clemow
Of Counsel
(860) 251-5711
Hartford Office
Richard I. Cohen
(860) 251-5803
Hartford Office
Leander A. Dolphin
(860) 251-5086
Hartford Office
Brenda A. Eckert
(860) 251-5712
Hartford Office
Christopher E. Engler
(860) 251-5143
Hartford Office
Julie C. Fay
(860) 251-5009
Hartford Office
Alfredo G. Fernández
(860) 251-5353
Hartford Office
Gabriel J. Jiran
(860) 251-5520
Hartford Office
Anne H. Littlefield
(860) 251-5715
Hartford Office
Peter J. Murphy
(860) 251-5950
Hartford Office
Damian J. Privitera
(860) 251-5504
Hartford Office
Jessica L. Ritter
(860) 251-5034
Hartford Office
William J. Roberts
(860) 251-5051
Hartford Office
Kevin M. Roy
(860) 251-5162
Hartford Office
Morgan Paul Rueckert
Hartford Office
John E. Wertam
Of Counsel
(860) 251-5813
Hartford Office
Joseph P. Williams
(203) 836-2804
New Haven Office
Hartford Office
Linda L. Yoder
(860) 251-5717
Hartford Office


December 18, 2020  With COVID-19 Vaccines Finally Arriving, Employers Must Ask and Answer Difficult Questions
December 1, 2020  Important Notice about EPA Compliance & Enforcement Regarding Ammonia Refrigeration at Ice Rinks
November 23, 2020  Governor Lamont Mandates New Rules for Sports Amid Surge in COVID-19 Transmission Rates
September 21, 2020  Governor Lamont Issues New Executive Order Allowing Testing Alternative to Self-Quarantine Following Travel
September 16, 2020  Following Court Ruling, DOL Clarifies Rules for FFCRA Intermittent Leave and Documentation Requirements
June 8, 2020  Connecticut Nonstock Corporations Temporarily Allowed To Conduct Member Meetings Remotely
October 24, 2019  Considering Artificial Turf? Pause for PFAS First
October 14, 2019  1st Circuit Addresses Due Process Rights in Title IX Hearings
October 10, 2019  National Ombudsman Day
July 24, 2019  Important Case Update Regarding University Title IX Investigations
April 17, 2019  "Varsity Blues:" Lessons To Be Learned From The Admissions Scandal
December 14, 2018  Proposed Title IX Sexual Harassment Regulations Would Have Significant Impact on Public Schools and Colleges and Universities
November 28, 2018  Graduate Students Organize Outside the National Labor Relations Board's Jurisdiction
November 8, 2018  Federal Excise Taxes on Executive Compensation
October 24, 2018  Recent Unionizing Developments on Campus
July 9, 2018  Janus v. AFSCME: Implementation Issues
June 27, 2018  U.S. Supreme Court Declares Compelled Public Sector Agency Fees Unconstitutional
May 23, 2018  Massachusetts' Supreme Court Finds Colleges May Face Liability for Student Suicide Under Certain Circumstances
March 21, 2018  Connecticut Bankruptcy Court Rejects Claw Back of Parent Plus Loan Proceeds
February 21, 2018  Second Circuit Upholds Ruling in Munn v. Hotchkiss
December 20, 2017  Claw Back of Parent PLUS Loan Proceeds to Pay College Tuition Hits a Roadblock
December 7, 2017  U.S. Supreme Court Allows Third Version of Travel Ban to Take Effect
September 25, 2017  U.S. Department of Education Withdraws Prior Title IX Guidance and Issues Interim Guidance on Sexual Misconduct
June 27, 2017  Supreme Court Decides to Hear Travel and Refugee Ban Case and Clarifies Enforcement of Executive Orders Pending Hearing
February 23, 2017  U.S. Departments of Justice and Education Withdraw Federal Transgender Student Guidance
January 25, 2017  U.S. Department of Education Changes Name of Office Responsible for FERPA
December 12, 2016  Guide for 401(k) and 403(b) Plan Administrators
November 23, 2016  Breaking News: Judge Stops New Overtime Rule
October 3, 2016  Family Policy Compliance Office Issues FERPA Privacy Guidelines
August 29, 2016  Compliance Conundrum -- Unauthorized Exports v. Discrimination: Find a Win in a Lose-Lose Scenario
May 17, 2016  Department of Justice and Office of Civil Rights Issue Dear Colleague Letter on Transgender Students
May 6, 2016  Approaching the U.S. Department of Homeland Security's New STEM OPT Extension Regulations with Caution
March 10, 2016  The Test for Independent Contractors and Unemployment Taxes Made Friendlier
March 2, 2016  The Complaint Over Lunch With the Boss As Protected Activity
January 14, 2016  Can Graduate Student Assistants Unionize?
June 24, 2015  New Prohibitions on Discrimination for Unpaid Interns
March 13, 2015  Government Group Scrutinizing Policies at Campuses
January 26, 2015  Educational Institutions Face Heightened Scrutiny
January 23, 2015  Looking a Gift Horse in the Mouth
November 24, 2014  Ebola Guidance for Schools: Focusing on the Basics
September 2013  Tips for Writing Student Handbooks


January 14, 2021  Webinar: EPA Compliance Assurance and Enforcement Initiative Regarding Ammonia Refrigeration at Ice Rinks
October 29, 2019  Webinar: GDPR and Educational Institutions - Where We've Been, and Where We Are Now
September 20, 2019  5th Annual Connecticut Secondary Transition Symposium: Every Voice Matters
June 19, 2019  2019 NAPLA Conference
March 18, 2019  Webinar: Employee Parking and the New UBTI Rules
November 26, 2018  #Metoo: Preventing and Responding to Sexual Harassment in the Professional Workplace
November 20, 2018  CEN Education and Development Advisory Council Workshop
November 9, 2018  Conduct & Disability
June 12, 2018  Colleges and Universities Facing Union Organizing Campaigns: An Update
November 8, 2017  CLE Event: Webinar: I-9 Compliance, Visa Options, and Immigration Law Update for Colleges and Universities
August 10, 2017  Webinar: Deemed Exports and Utilizing Research Universities
June 13, 2017  Connecticut Conference of Independent Colleges (CCIC) 2017 Member Forum
May 12, 2017  2017 Connecticut Education Network Annual Conference
May 12, 2017   Lehigh University's 45th Special Education Law Conference
March 20, 2017  Adjunct Faculty and Graduate Student Unionizing
February 22, 2017  Webinar: The Essential Guide for 401(k) and 403(b) Plan Administrators for Colleges and Universities
February 10, 2017  Sexual Harassment Prevention Training for Colleges and Universities
October 11, 2016  Webinar: Compliance Conundrum--Unauthorized Exports v. Discrimination
October 7, 2016  New Themes in ADA Compliance
June 21, 2016  Important CT College and University Update on the New Federal Overtime Rule
March 31, 2016  The Intersection of Sports and Education Law
December 1, 2015  Connecticut Conference of Independent Colleges (CCIC): Legal Issues in Admissions for Independent Colleges
May 13, 2015  Webinar: Top Tips for Accommodations under the ADA - Who's Ready for Summer Camp?
January 13, 2015  Connecticut Conference of Independent Colleges (CCIC) 2015 Member Forum
November 24, 2014  Union Organizing Update
November 7, 2014  Effective Response to Sexual Violence Claims on Campus Under Title IX
May 22, 2014  CT CHAND: College Health Symposium
June 13, 2013  The Legal and Tax Implications of the IRS Final Report on the Colleges and Universities Compliance Project
April 9, 2013  Doors to Higher Education
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