Educational Institutions
Industry Team

We know educational institutions rely upon timely legal advice to ensure they remain focused on providing the highest-quality educational and working environments for their students and staff. Our attorneys’ active, “hands on” approach has earned them the reputation as a responsive and trusted partner to over 130 educational institution clients throughout the state that routinely look to Harris Beach for practical and insightful legal counsel on matters regarding their operations, employees and students.

Harris Beach attorneys work with superintendents, board presidents, boards of education, and administrators on a diverse set of legal challenges ranging from student discipline and academic affairs, to budgeting and governance, to collective bargaining agreements and employee discipline/termination. Our education law attorneys also work closely with attorneys in other legal fields to provide advice and representation in specialized areas such as finance and bonding, construction, real estate transactions, tax certiorari matters and environmental litigation.

Board Meeting Issues/FOIL

Harris Beach attorneys regularly provide legal advice and guidance on board meeting procedural issues such as board powers, board relations, the Open Meetings Law and the Freedom of Information Law. 

 Communications and Media Relations 

Harris Beach also serves educational institutions as a resource for effective communications strategies for crisis or highly controversial situations or challenging communications issues. Our media relations support includes consultations between clients, firm attorneys and firm communications/public relations professionals.

 Constitutional Issues 

Harris Beach attorneys advise and represent our educational institutions clients on New York state and United States constitutional issues, including free speech, religious freedom, due process, equal protection and search & seizure as they affect both students and employees.

 Discharge/Discipline of Employees 

Our attorneys offer legal counsel and representation regarding the rules and regulations for discipline and discharge of employees in the private and public sectors, including issues arising under the Education and Civil Service Laws.

 District Meetings/Budgets 

Our attorneys assist school district clients in meeting the myriad obligations in Education Law and Commissioner’s regulations as well as decisions for the preparation and adoption of budgets and holding of district meetings. Our representation includes defense of challenges in these areas before the Commissioner of Education and in the courts.

 Employment and Discrimination Laws 

We represent education clients in federal and state courts and before federal and state administrative agencies in employment discrimination, wage/hour, and constitutional and wrongful discharge matters. Our attorneys have extensive trial and jury experience with all types of discrimination matters, including age, gender, sex, sexual harassment, national origin, race, religion, disability and Section 504 matters.


Harris Beach provides counsel to educational institutions as the recipients of endowments and trusts. We provide endowment reviews to ensure that maximum funds are available for use, and we counsel clients on the laws concerning use and spending of endowment, quasi-endowment, charitable trusts, support foundations and other restricted funds.

  Environmental Matters – SEQRA and Litigation    

For projects requiring environmental review, we counsel educational institutions and public clients on implementation of New York State Environmental Quality Review Act (SEQRA) requirements. We also litigate claims related to SEQRA compliance, including prosecuting and defending Article 78 actions that relate to zoning issues.


Harris Beach attorneys have extensive experience with all types of municipal finance transactions. Firm attorneys regularly serve as bond counsel and underwriters’ counsel on financings for colleges, private not-for-profit schools, library systems and educational facilities for developmentally disabled children. These financings are often secured by state, local school district or other third-party reimbursement revenue streams. Our firm is listed as a recognized bond counsel firm in the “Municipal Bond Attorneys” section of “The Bond Buyer’s Municipal Marketplace” (commonly known as the “Red Book”) for educational institutions and provides counsel in all matters regarding their financial and legal obligations, including Payment in Lieu of Taxes (PILOT) financing and tax certiorari advice.

 Intellectual Property 

Our attorneys handle all aspects of patent, copyright, and trademark protection both in the United States and worldwide for a variety of clients from industrial and consumer manufacturers to educational institutions. We have extensive experience in ensuring that our clients’ ideas and inventions are fully protected under US and international laws. We also advise our clients on establishing patent, work-for-hire, and non-competition agreements with employees responsible for research and development, and we regularly handle licensing agreements for educational institutions.

Negotiations and Collective Bargaining Agreements

Our attorneys have considerable experience negotiating collective bargaining agreements between our education clients and unions. Our attorneys advise clients regarding administration of collective bargaining agreements, represent employers in arbitration hearings and appear on behalf of employers at all levels of the court system, as well as counsel and represent our clients in all matters arising under the New York State Taylor Law or the National Labor Relations Act. We also negotiate, draft and review individual employment contracts for our education clients.

Preventative Policies/Personnel Training

We provide preventive legal advice and training on employment and education-related issues, including sexual harassment, disability discrimination and/or accommodation, administrator/supervisor training, employee evaluation and discipline, student discipline and CSE matters. Training is provided to board members, administrators, staff and students.

 School Construction and Renovation Issues 

Our attorneys have assisted educational institutions in obtaining required permits for school construction and renovation projects and preparing and reviewing construction/architect contracts, and we advise educational institutions regarding the bidding process. We also represent educational institutions in the event of difficulties with, and litigation resulting from, construction projects.

 Special Education  

Harris Beach counsel on special education issues encompasses the Federal Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA), the Federal Rehabilitation Act (Section 504), the Federal Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), New York State Education Law (including Article 89 and the Part 200 Regulations), and rulings under state and federal court decisions. We provide services to assist districts in responding to, and defending against, both informal and formal complaints from parents and investigations and audits by the New York State Education Department and the United States Department of Education Office for Civil Rights.

We provide advice both proactively and reactively before, during, and after due process impartial hearings, State Review Officer proceedings and civil litigation. Harris Beach special education attorneys have extensive experience in representing school districts in due process hearings and appeals. Our special education services include assistance with Individualized Education Program(IEP) issues, advice concerning procedural requirements, and staff training and policy development

Strategic Alliances

We can help educational institutions and start-up ventures negotiate strategic alliances with partners that can provide marketing services, development funding, licenses to needed technology and often equity capital. We help initiate joint ventures. We advise clients on setting up strategic alliances for the purposes of marketing and/or global distribution strategies and handle licensing arrangements and equity and technology exchange agreements.

Student Issues

We represent our education clients in all matters regarding student issues. Harris Beach has extensive experience with the requirements under federal and state statutes, as well as with Commissioner Regulations and determinations with respect to students, including:  residency, student records (FERPA), Title IX, constitutional issues under the First and Fourth Amendments, student discipline, the education and rights of children with disabilities or Section 504 plans.

Teacher Certification and Tenure Issues

Harris Beach attorneys provide legal support and counsel to education clients regarding tenure and certification laws and regulations, including issues such as program takeovers and tuitioning. We also advise as to tenure matters at post-secondary institutions.

Technology Commercialization

Harris Beach can assist universities and colleges in maximizing intellectual property assets through technology transfers, licensing and commercialization. With a full-service practice and a solid base of experience in several industries, we are active in university-industry collaborations from obtaining patents and negotiating license agreements, to organizing entities to pursue commercialization.


  • Administrative Agency Matters
  • Arbitration and Negotiation
  • Architect Contracts and Construction Issues
  • Board Governance Issues
  • Civil Service Law Issues
  • Commissioner of Education Appeals
  • Competitive Bidding Issues
  • Constitutional Issues
  • Crisis Communications
  • CSE Issues
  • Discrimination Issues
  • District Meetings, Elections, Budgets, and Board Powers
  • Employee Benefits
  • Employee Disability Issues
  • Employee Discipline and Discharge
  • Endowments
  • Environmental Impact Statements
  • Environmental Issues
  • Estate and Trust Planning
  • Finance and Bond Matters
  • Freedom of Information Issues
  • General Education Law Issues (Public, Private, Higher Education) 
  • General Municipal Law
  • Intellectual Property
  • Litigated Matters
  • Policy Drafting and Review
  • Public Meetings Law Issues
  • Strategic Business Alliances
  • Student Issues
  • Tax Certiorari Proceedings
  • Teacher Certification and Tenure Issues
  • Technology Commercialization
  • Title IX