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Overview

Stearns Weaver Miller’s lawyers have represented clients of all sizes and at all levels of the education sector in labor and employment, land use, litigation, and other legal matters.  We have the experience and knowledge to help clients navigate the legal issues specific to colleges, universities, private schools, and charter schools.  

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  • Obtained a reversal, from Florida’s Third District Court of Appeal, of a $2.5 million judgment on a jury verdict against Florida International University.  The opinion is a bellwether of current Florida law on discrimination and retaliation. Read it here
  • Provide general employment and labor law advice to a large university and a state college, and represent them in employment litigation matters. 
  • Successfully represented a state college in the defense of a lawsuit by disabled persons claiming accessibility deficiencies under the Americans with Disabilities Act. 
  • Assisted a university in obtaining H-1B and TN visas and permanent residence for employees. 
  • Provided employment law advice, including sexual harassment training under Title VII and Title IX for the staff and students of a pre-professional, residential training program for dancers, and represented the program in employment litigation matters. 
  • Represent colleges and universities on employee benefits issues, including pensions, 403(b) plans and 457(b) plans as well as the unique issues relating to nonqualified deferred compensation for executive employees of those organizations.  Advise colleges and universities on group insurance benefit issues and income and employment tax consequences of those benefits. 
  • Represented Meritas, LLC, a portfolio company, of Sterling Capital, in numerous acquisitions of private K through 12 schools throughout the United States, and in litigation involving its schools, including North Broward Preparatory School.  
  • Represent a school in a range of matters including issues with parents, reporting of suspected abuse, bullying, contract disputes, and tuition issues. 
  • Former Assistant General Counsel to the University of Miami; oversaw the University’s real estate portfolio, which included negotiating the purchase and sale of University property, negotiating and drafting commercial leases with private and public entities, and managing all land use and zoning related issues with the City of Coral Gables, City of Miami, Miami-Dade County, state and federal agencies. 
  • Represented the University of Miami:
    • in the area of technology transfer, including drafting, reviewing and negotiating agreements to facilitate the commercialization of University intellectual property. 
    • in the development of a 10-acre technology park in the City of Miami, including the assemblage of the parcels for the technology park. 
    • in the historic designation of various buildings on its main campus. 
    • in the successful adoption of a 20-year development agreement with its local government allowing, among other things, the development of approximately two million square feet on its main campus.  
    • in obtaining entitlements for the construction of the Marine Technology & Life Sciences Seawater Research Building at The Rosenstiel School of Marine and Atmospheric Science on Key Biscayne, including an 8,520 square foot state of the art wind-wave-storm surge simulator capable of generating hurricane force winds.  
    • in employment litigation and business litigation matters. 
  • Advised and represented private and charter schools in land use matters, including permitting, development agreements, transportation concurrency issues, and ad valorem taxation issues. 
  • Represented public college on all aspects of Florida’s Sunshine Laws, including training, compliance, and litigation concerning public meetings and public records. 
  • Advised public college in amending its student handbook and internal policies to address increasing application of the Fair Housing Act to campus housing. 
  • Represented public college as outside counsel for all land use, growth management, environmental law, and real estate development matters. 
  • Advised and represented a parents’ group against the board of directors of a leading regional private school with regard to governance and integrity issues at the institution. 
  • Represented and advised students in administrative hearings against the Miami-Dade County School Board involving rights, school access and accommodations under the Americans with Disabilities Act.
  • Represented a private educational institution as tenant in the negotiation of a lease of 80,000 square feet of lab space lease in a specialty bio-sciences building in a new life sciences park in Miami, Florida. 
  • Labor & employment counsel to St. Philip's Episcopal School, a private independent day school.
  • Shareholder Rene Ruiz, co-founder and President of Sports Leadership and Management (SLAM) charter school in Miami, directs the school’s rapid expansion across the United States and internationally. Legal work includes review of contracts and charter applications, and defending charter applications.