Colleges & Universities

Higher education and research involves a broad range of issues and opportunities governed and funded by a complex array of federal, state, and local agencies, private individuals and foundations and other entities. Van Ness Feldman clients include both public and private colleges and universities, which the firm advises on complex legal, regulatory and policy matters. Such matters are often at the intersection of federal policy and funding, public-private partnerships, strategic real estate and campus planning, environmental regulation and compliance, and energy infrastructure.

The firm is well-known for bringing a unique perspective and creative, collaborative approach to solving the legal and policy challenges institutions confront in managing day-to-day operations efficiently and economically, while planning for the future.


    Van Ness Feldman represents colleges and universities in real estate transactions, planning, expansion, and other areas involving real property. The firm's attorneys and land use planners are especially adept in guiding clients in the following types of representations:

    Real Estate and Strategic Asset Management.  VNF represents college and university clients in real estate transactions, real estate assembly, historic preservation, and leasing, in transactions that range from simple to complex, including street vacations and railway vacations, and multiple owners and contaminated properties.

    Planning.  Van Ness Feldman works with campus architects, planners, and consultants on campus master planning, environmental review, and in all aspects of planning, community outreach, and permitting for full utilization of existing and new facilities.

    Disposition of Donated Property. VNF works with development offices and real estate offices on the real estate aspects of donated property or potential donations, including the use, sale, or conservation of such property.


    We regularly work with higher-education clients to develop strategic public-private partnerships, identify and secure federal funding sources, and implement other funding strategies. Our team also assists with audits of institutional assets, policy and legal needs, and with building strategic partnerships and coalitions.

    Partnership Development.  Partnering with colleges and universities has become a key element in corporate efforts to secure federal funds at DOE/DOD. Our experience with federal agencies at all levels give us unique insight and access to critical information regarding federal funding sources and application processes.  We are also involved in strategic planning and drafting agreements to form and govern joint powers authorities, public-private collaborations, and other development entities.

    Audits.  We are skilled at identifying potential projects or facilities that could be targets for regulation, legal challenge, and/or have the potential for receiving federal funding or public-private partnering.

    Research and Policy Development.  Our team regularly assists colleges and universities in developing research goals and policies by providing regulatory analysis and support for research programs.