Educational Institutions

Ropes & Gray has extensive experience providing sophisticated solutions to more than 100 of the most-respected institutions in the United States and several international institutions.


Universities, colleges and other academic and research institutions are expected to meet the highest standards of excellence in all of their activities. As a result of their unique role in society, these institutions face complex regulatory, fiduciary and ethical requirements that extend well beyond those required of organizations and businesses in other industries.

Ropes & Gray attorneys have extensive experience providing sophisticated solutions to more than 100 of the most respected institutions in the United States and several overseas institutions. In addition, the firm represents numerous academic and teaching hospitals; post-secondary institutions; a range of scientific, technical, biotechnology and medical research organizations; and the foundations that help fund these enterprises. We are one of the few firms representing this broad array of industry participants and are able to use our extensive knowledge and global resources to meet our clients’ specific challenges and opportunities. 

A hallmark of our practice has been our commitment to professional excellence. We not only believe that our clients deserve the very best legal counsel available – we have worked diligently for nearly 150 years to ensure that this is more than just a statement, but rather, it is a philosophy in action.

The firm’s areas of focus include: 

  • Benefits
  • Health care 
  • Charitable giving
  • Intellectual property
  • Compliance
  • Investment matters
  • Employment matters ....
  • Real estate
  • Financing
  • University governance
  • Litigation
  • University tax issues

Services & Clients

With access to the firm’s full scope of resources and experience, our attorneys provide knowledgeable insights, targeted advice and coordinated service in the full range of business and legal issues, all delivered with an in-depth understanding of the unique context of education and research institutions. These services include:


As a national leader in advising clients with regard to retirement, health and welfare, and other benefits, our employee benefits group seamlessly blends the skills of our experienced attorneys and other nonlegal professionals (including consultants, actuaries and underwriters) to provide end-to-end legal counsel and services.

Charitable Giving

Supporting a key practice at the firm, our attorneys offer wide-ranging, knowledgeable advice in all aspects of charitable giving and development, including gifts of property, planned giving, endowments, administration of charitable trusts, support organizations, and federal and state income and estate tax consequences. We have been the authors of several of the leading tax ruling requests and source books in this area.


We help universities, academic hospitals and research institutions – both privately and publicly funded – assure compliance with both general and industry-specific regulatory requirements, from fiduciary and governance concerns to financial reporting and the use of human subjects for scientific and medical research.

Employment Matters

By virtue of their reliance on human capital, educational and research institutions regularly face a range of labor and employment issues. Our attorneys provide full-spectrum guidance with regard to employment agreements, separation and other terminations, federal and state antidiscrimination matters, immigration, employee records and policies, and union organizing and negotiations.


Drawing on our wide experience with educational institutions and our in-depth knowledge of tax-exempt bond markets, we serve as borrower’s counsel and bond counsel to several of the nation’s leading universities.

General and Specialized Litigation

In a university setting, handling disputes (and dispute resolution) requires unique knowledge and skill.  We represent clients in matters involving tenure, antitrust and intellectual property issues, as well as allegations of discrimination, academic misconduct and other employment claims. We help clients identify and pursue the most effective resolution, whether in the courts or through alternative dispute resolution options, including arbitration and mediation.

Health Care Matters and Academic Medical Centers

With one of the nation’s most respected interdisciplinary health care practices, Ropes & Gray advises clients on issues affecting academic medical centers, helps structure relationships to teaching hospitals, and provides guidance on campus health care facilities, privacy issues, licensing and other matters related to the provision of health care services.

Intellectual Property

The knowledge developed at a university or research institution is perhaps its most valuable asset. We help clients identify, develop, acquire, protect, enforce, transfer and exploit proprietary information and trade secrets through the use of copyrights, patents, trademarks, trade names, technology transfer and licensing agreements, and – when necessary – rapid and effective litigation.

Investment Matters

In today’s complex, highly regulated finance and securities environment, public and private institutions require legal counsel with the highest levels of industry experience and legal knowledge. With one of the largest, most diversified investment management practices in the country, we offer clients unparalleled service, creative insights and sophisticated guidance.

Real Estate

In concert with attorneys from the firm’s real estate group, we provide guidance in the development of all types of educational and research facilities, including campus master planning, financing, building and property rights, leasing and ground leasing, zoning and land use regulations, contract formation and dispute resolution.

University Governance

Corporate governance has become a major topic of concern in both the for-profit and the nonprofit sectors. We have combined our traditional strength in corporate and securities law with our long service of charitable boards and management to provide insightful solutions to governance questions in the educational industry.

University Tax Issues

We counsel clients in all areas of taxation, including faculty and presidential housing, payroll tax and audits, unrelated business taxable income from business and investment activities, financing (including taxable and tax-exempt bond issues), use of research and other facilities, and international tax concerns.

Ropes & Gray has represented leading educational institutions, including:

  • Amherst College
  • Boston College
  • Broad Institute 
  • California Institute of Technology
  • Carnegie Mellon University
  • Columbia University
  • Dartmouth College
  • Harvard University
  • Johns Hopkins University
  • Massachusetts Institute of Technology
  • New York University
  • Stanford University
  • University of Chicago
  • University of Michigan
  • University of Southern California
  • University of Washington
  • Wellesley College 
  • Williams College
  • Villanova University
  • Yale University