For over 50 years, Harter Secrest & Emery has represented an array of higher education institutions, including large research institutions, nationally recognized and regional universities, private liberal arts colleges, religiously affiliated institutions, nursing schools, community colleges, and other academic institutions. We pride ourselves on being more than outside counsel to our clients; every day and with every interaction and issue, we partner with our clients to address their opportunities and challenges as if they were our own.
In some respects, colleges and universities are like many other non-profit entities, allowing for legal knowledge to be highly transferrable. In so many other ways, however, they are distinctive entities, making unique contributions to the communities in which they are located, the country, and the world, with student growth and achievement as their core mission. And, as highly regulated entities, institutions of higher education must focus on legal compliance and risk management, without taking their eyes off of their mission.
For decades, we have been immersed in higher education—in legal and non-legal roles. Members of our team have served as a college president, as faculty, in human resources and academic administration, and as investigators and conduct hearing board advisors. Because of these lived experiences, our clients regularly seek legal advice, and just as often seek guidance regarding campus-wide initiatives, approaches to challenges only tangentially related to the law, and internal and external communications. We have an immediate understanding of how discussions and decisions should be approached within the landscape, which translates into mission-driven, cost effective, and implementable solutions.
We understand that legal guidance is helpful only if it resonates within each institution’s culture. We work collaboratively with our clients to become well-versed in each campus’s values and parlance to ensure a harmonized approach. Our long history of working with different institutions and different types of institutions, together with our commitment to understanding and honoring each institution’s culture and values, have resulted in effective communications, productive problem-solving, and constructive collaborations. It is not uncommon for our higher education clients to say, “You get us.”
Higher Education Consulting
Our higher education consulting services combine decades of experiences and leadership within higher education with legal acumen to help higher education institutions transform challenges into solutions and opportunities. With President Emeritus and senior higher education counsel Daan Braveman (who during his nearly 45-year career achieved a national reputation in higher education administration and law) at the helm, we provide consulting services in the following areas: academic programming; alternative finance; campus culture and human capital; crisis planning and management; diversity, equity, and inclusion; executive and board leadership; mergers, acquisitions, closures, and strategic alliances; policy development; risk management; and strategic planning and communications. Click here to learn more.
Mergers, Acquisitions, and Strategic Alliances
Higher education institutions are experiencing profound change. The difficult circumstances now facing higher education may necessitate conversations about internal restructuring, mergers, acquisitions, strategic alliances and affiliations, or even closure. As colleges and universities explore these options, we bring together the best thought leadership and legal acumen to help institutions face change head on and make strategic decisions that promote institutional vibrancy and viability. Click here to learn more.
We help our clients develop competencies through compliance training and regularly conduct training required by law and programs related to legal developments and mission-oriented trends. Our training programs are infused with practicality, in part because of our experience inside higher education and in part because it is how we practice law, and many organizations find our training to be educational, interesting, and fun (even FERPA training!). From “training the trainer” to direct delivery of content, we can help design practical and highly cost-effective training programs meaningful to and necessary for your campus. We have trained institution representatives across New York State. Click here to view a map.
Breadth and depth of knowledge on issues facing higher education
We provide legal advice related to the ever-expanding list of applicable laws and practical, day-to-day guidance on the broad range of issues your institution may face, including: