Skip Repeated Content

Bryan Cave Leighton Paisner’s Higher Education Team provides a seamless approach to serving the legal challenges facing higher education institutions across the globe, from international and commercial transactions to naming rights, sourcing and technology services arrangements, and finance and bond counsel. Our multi-disciplined team helps educational sector clients harness new opportunities to serve their students, faculty and other constituents.

We’ve seen educational institutions become increasingly sophisticated in their approach to operations and financial management challenges, e.g., participating more often in joint venture and other collaborative transactions with for-profit organizations, and creating high-visibility collaborations with foreign universities and research institutes. Our lawyers understand this and are able to assemble a global team to structure and execute mergers, acquisitions and joint ventures that do not jeopardize the institution’s tax-exempt status and relationships with affiliated and unaffiliated non-profit or for-profit corporations, and design strategic alliances and collaborations in multiple jurisdictions. We are also able to create multi-strategy funds platforms and investment trust offerings on behalf of institutions depending on the unique goals of higher education institutions.

In our online program management (OPM) transactions practice, we are able to leverage the firm’s expertise in sourcing and technology services . Our attorneys are trusted business and legal advisors in structuring, reworking and replacing OPM vendor arrangements that universities have found to be onerous or underperforming. We are able to develop a negotiation strategy to drive competitive leverage to enable better outcomes, and through our in-depth market knowledge of the vendor community we are able to deliver solutions to common challenges in the OPM space.

In addition to finance, strategic and commercial transactions, we also are among the most active law firms in the world in naming rights deals in history, with naming rights representations with an aggregate value in excess of $3.2 billion, including for collegiate stadium and arena naming rights.   

Further, doing business in the international arena requires navigating a wide array of statutes and regulations across multiple jurisdictions which govern the movement of goods, technology, software, people and services across borders. Our attorneys have long counseled clients in successfully complying with these laws, helping them chart the path through complex intersections of government requirements and their strategic business goals.


Representative Experience

A sampling of our experience in structuring, negotiating and assisting in the governance of contractual arrangements at institutions of higher education include the following:

  1. A highly-selective research university powerhouse that offers on-ground and online degree programs to more than 10,000 students chose to transition its online program management (OPM) partner. BCLP oversaw the transaction, enabling the institution to negotiate more favorable financial and operational exit terms with its existing provider and a more balanced and favorable arrangement with the replacement provider. The terms will help mitigate the risks inherent for universities in long-term OPM arrangements and that will provide contractual leverage to achieve the institution’s growth and expansion goals for the online program.
  2. On behalf of a public university, negotiated over $5 billion of private fund investments, including terms of subscription agreements and side letter agreements, with sponsors of private equity, private real estate and venture capital funds; negotiated Investment Management Agreements with separate account managers and Wall Street firms, including Goldman Sachs and J.P. Morgan, for direct investments including stocks, bonds, options, futures and private equity opportunities. Negotiated and documented agreements related to investments in state-specific tax credits.
  3. On behalf of non-profit organization, created multi-strategy “fund of funds” platform for alternative investments by sponsored organizations, initially funded through transfer of $20 billion of interests in private equity, private real estate, LBO, private debt or credit, and other private funds investing in alternatives and real assets.
  4. On behalf of a higher education institutional investor, negotiated $25 million secondary purchase of interests in offshore limited partnership.