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Nixon Peabody Plays Key Role in University Merger; Attorneys Advise Franklin Pierce Law Center in Unprecedented Agreement with the University of New Hampshire

March 19, 2010
Allison McClain

Manchester, NH. The University of New Hampshire (UNH) voted unanimously to enter into an affiliation with Franklin Pierce Law Center. This vote became the first step toward a full merger of the two institutions. Pending approval by the American Bar Association and the New England Association of Schools and Colleges, among others, the law school would be renamed the “University of New Hampshire School of Law.” Nixon Peabody attorneys Kevin Fitzgerald, James Hood, and Michael Cooney represented the Franklin Pierce Law Center and largely designed and executed this agreement between Franklin Pierce, the state’s only, independent law school, and UNH.

“The agreement between Franklin Pierce and UNH is indicative of a trend we expect to be seeing in higher education,” said Mr. Cooney, leader of Nixon Peabody’s Higher Education practice. “Institutions are increasingly looking for more strategic and permanent relationships to help them advance their goals. That requires a relatively unique combination of legal and negotiating skills to help them navigate the complexities of doing so.”

Mr. Hood, Nixon Peabody Global Business & Transactions group partner, added, “This agreement required careful consideration toward the mix of complicated higher educational issues with those issues normally found in corporate M&A transactions. Our hope is that this arrangement and the path to creating it can serve as a model for others to follow.”

“The ultimate success of this affiliation was directly related to identifying and resolving any potential conflicts and issues before they derailed the agreement talks,” said John D. Hutson, dean and president of Franklin Pierce Law Center. “The Nixon Peabody team was responsive, thoughtful, imaginative, and professional throughout the process. We are appreciative of all their efforts in helping see this agreement to fruition.”

Nixon Peabody has a long history of representing colleges and universities, and educational and research institutions remain a significant part of its client base. The firm currently has strong relationships with more than 140 colleges and universities across the globe including some of the most well-known institutions in the U.S. With higher education at the forefront of cutting-edge research and technology, attorneys across the firm and practices are well-positioned to take advantage of the growth expected in this sector.