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Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs) and Minority Serving Institutions (MSIs) hold a special place, not only in our history but in our future. HBCUs have been at the forefront of scientific, social, and medical research and achievements.

The Adams and Reese HBCU/MSI practice team is a multi-disciplinary team focused on providing legal and other support specifically tailored to HBCUs and to other institutions that are focused on educating minority populations. 

Adams and Reese has a deep and rich history in advising educational institutions, and our lawyers have advised more than 100 schools, colleges, and universities, addressing the full range of issues facing these institutions, including technology matters, employment disputes, employee benefits and compensation, and issues related to athletics programs. We also advise on business law matters unique to the education sector, including public bidding, bond issues, grant acquisition, and finance.

 Our attorneys advise clients in the following areas:

  • Federal/State funding and grants - Our lawyers and government relations professionals have a deep understanding of government funding mechanisms and help clients to maximize federal and state funding and grant opportunities. Our experience also includes work with public-private partnerships, public finance/bonding, and alternative financing mechanisms.
  • Technology - Research, grants, technology consortiums, clinical trials, blockchain, cybersecurity and technology development are all areas where we help HBCUs and MSIs to stay at the forefront of technology and research opportunities. We have a long history of facilitating joint ventures and private investment into the educational space.
  • Government Relations - Our government relations team provides our clients with direct contact with state and federal government officials as well as sound advice built upon decades of on the ground experience. We understand and know the inner workings of various levels of government, with broad knowledge of the substantive issues that affect our clients - from sweeping federal legislation to intrusive federal regulations.
  • Employment issues – We have defended more than 35 school districts against more than 1,000 claims of violating federal overtime requirements. We have also advised on tenure, employment contracts (presidents and superintendents, faculty, coaches, etc.), faculty handbooks, employment policies and practices, academic freedom, harassment and discrimination policies and training, drug and alcohol abuse, AIDS policies, termination, and disciplinary hearings.
  • Athletics – Our team has experience in collegiate-level athletics issues, including NCAA compliance, Name Image and Likeness (NIL) compliance, drug testing, athletic conference affiliation, use of athletic facilities, Title IX and gender equity, equipment safety, and logo usage and licensing.
  • Student issues – Students are the heart of HBCUs/MSIs, and our lawyers are adept at the myriad issues that arise among the student population. These include drug and alcohol policies, school prayer, student privacy and FERPA (Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act), diversity and non-discrimination policies, honor codes, disciplinary actions and expulsions, Greek organizations, admissions, 529 plans, campus security, sexual harassment, bullying, child abuse, search and seizure, drug testing, student handbooks, Title IX, §504 of the Rehabilitation Act, special education and the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA).
  • Defense of discrimination claims – Educational institutions weather their fair share of discrimination claims from both students and employees. Our team is equipped to handle these, including those under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act, Rehabilitation Act of 1973, Age Discrimination in Employment Act (ADEA), Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), constitutional claims under 42 U.S.C. § 1983, and the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA).
  • Employee benefits and executive compensation – Providing for administration and faculty is also important to our education clients, and our team has extensive experience in this area. We represent clients in this area including supplemental retirement and specialized compensation arrangements for presidents and senior administrators, faculty early retirement incentive programs, Section 403(b) tax-deferred annuity programs, and health and welfare benefit plans.
  • Student behavior and technology – Facebook, social networking, and texting/sexting are new areas where the laws against bullying and harassment still apply. We help our clients understand how the law applies and how to create a safer school environment for themselves and their students.
  • Pandemic matters – COVID-19 continues to impact educational institutions. Our team helps clients to navigate both state and federal laws, rules, and regulations regarding COVID-19 and academic institutions.

A sampling of our experience:

  • Assisted HBCU and MSI clients with federal funding and grant acquisition, and grant administration.
  • Assisted with student housing and other campus construction projects, including the acquisition of Series B revenue bonds for campus housing.
  • Provide comprehensive Title IX services including training, investigations, developing policies, and serving as hearing officers and decision-makers in hearings.
  • Worked with HBCU medical research institutions with clinical trials and with intellectual property acquisition/licensing.
  • Conducted an investigation into allegations of discrimination and retaliation by a high-level college administrator with regard to African-American members of their team. As part of the investigation, we provided training on diversity and inclusion to the entire school workforce.

We are here to help.

For more than 40 years, members of our HBCU/MSI team have tackled the thorniest issues facing educational institutions. Our lawyers have argued cases before Circuit Courts of Appeals and have taken education cases to the United States Supreme Court.

Our education law attorneys hold leadership positions in national, state, and local organizations in the education field and speak on issues of school administration and education law to audiences throughout the United States.

 Our Defining Strengths

  • Academic freedom and tenure
  • Admissions
  • Age Discrimination in Employment Act (ADEA)
  • Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA)
  • Athletic conference affiliation
  • Athletic equipment safety
  • Athletic facilities, use of
  • Bullying
  • Campus security
  • Constitutional claims under 42 U.S.C. §1983
  • Corporate Partnerships
  • Cybersecurity
  • Disciplinary actions and expulsions
  • Diversity and non-discrimination policies
  • Drug and alcohol policies
  • Drug testing
  • Employment contracts
  • Employment policies and practices
  • Faculty early retirement incentive programs
  • Faculty handbooks
  • Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA)
  • Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA)
  • Greek organizations
  • Harassment and discrimination policies and training
  • Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA)
  • Historic preservation
  • Honor codes
  • Intellectual property development, acquisition, and licensing
  • Logo usage and licensing and other intellectual property issues
  • NCAA compliance
  • Name, Image, and Likeness (NIL) compliance
  • Privacy and compliance
  • Rehabilitation Act of 1973
  • Religious freedom
  • Research consortiums
  • Search and seizure
  • Sexual harassment
  • Social media policies
  • State and Federal funding and grants
  • Student financial aid
  • Student handbooks
  • Student housing and campus facilities financing and construction
  • Technology consortiums
  • Technology development and licensing
  • Termination and disciplinary hearings
  • Title IX and gender equity
  • Title VII of the Civil Rights Act
  • Unitary status and redistricting issues related to the Voting Rights Act
  • §504 of the Rehabilitation Act
  • 529 plans

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