The New Challenges of Higher Education
Institutions of higher learning have been undergoing industry-wide transformations that frequently leave them facing a host of challenges. Some of the these challenges are novel, while others have become turbocharged as a result of the coronavirus pandemic. They have had an impact on institutional policies and practices, and have included an array of types of legal disputes. Antitrust matters involving college sports have come to the fore, mandatory vaccination policies are being tested in the courts, and the rise in online learning and remote work turbocharged by the virus has heightened the degree of exposure that higher learning institutions face in handling the private, sensitive data of students, faculty and researchers, to name just a few issues.
Beyond legal disputes and concerns about liability, there are longer-term shifts in how colleges and universities operate to meet the needs of students and researchers. Higher learning institutions are increasingly turning to public-private partnerships (P3s) as a way to capitalize on underutilized space and land holdings while providing improved services to students. While the benefits of P3s may be clear, they are complex arrangements requiring careful planning and execution. The education-P3 phenomenon in turn is taking place within the larger trend of colleges and universities- both public and private- transacting with private companies to meet needs that used to be handled internally and to procure new services that are simply not within the purview of institutions of higher learning, like overhauls of university energy systems. As such transactions become more complex and wide-ranging, counting on informed and experienced counsel will be key to avoiding costly mistakes.
Bilzin Sumberg possesses extensive experience representing colleges and universities inside and outside the courtroom. The firm's attorneys advise clients on avoiding the business mistakes and legal pitfalls that could lead to suboptimal outcomes or costly litigation. From counseling colleges and universities on data privacy policies and public health procedures, to structuring complex ventures and partnerships, to assisting them in facing a wide variety of other legal challenges, the firm's attorneys possess the business and legal acumen necessary to guide higher education clients through these extraordinary times.