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A Better Partnership

Higher Education


Four-year colleges, universities and community colleges don’t operate under a traditional business model, nor do they function in the same manner as many nonprofit organizations. The rules are different in education, which is why we have a team of attorneys dedicated to serving the legal needs of institutions of higher education.

We realize that government regulations for schools can be daunting, given Title IX regulations, the Clery Act, search and seizure laws, the Americans with Disabilities Act and the Open Meetings and Freedom of Information acts, just for starters. We know the laws and can help you successfully and effectively operate within their boundaries.

To help offset your rising operations costs, we can identify and secure economic incentives for expansion. And because we’re a full-service law firm, we can tackle the challenges that face schools on a daily basis, such as contract negotiations, employee benefits packages, intellectual property and patent matters, litigation and privacy issues.
We are members of Michigan Colleges Alliance, Council for Christian Colleges & Universities and


Photo of Ojone Ameadaji
Ojone Ameadaji
Photo of Edward Bardelli
Edward Bardelli
Photo of Mary Bonnema
Mary Bonnema
Photo of Michael Brady
Michael Brady
Photo of Jason Byrne
Jason Byrne
Photo of Matthew Casey
Matthew Casey
Photo of Melissa Collar
Melissa Collar
Photo of Kelsey Dame
Kelsey Dame
Photo of Robert Dubault
Robert Dubault
Photo of Pamela Enslen
Pamela Enslen
Photo of C. Ryan Grondzik
C. Ryan Grondzik
Photo of Ian Harrier
Ian Harrier
Photo of R. Scott Keller
R. Scott Keller
Photo of Madelaine Lane
Madelaine Lane
Photo of Brian Lennon
Brian Lennon
Photo of Heidi Lyon
Heidi Lyon
Photo of Matthew Nelson
Matthew Nelson
Photo of Jeffrey Ott
Jeffrey Ott
Photo of Steven Palazzolo
Steven Palazzolo
Photo of Louis Rabaut
Louis Rabaut
Photo of Kaitlin Sheets
Kaitlin Sheets
Photo of Nathan Steed
Nathan Steed
Photo of Allyson Terpsma
Allyson Terpsma
Photo of Amber Underhill
Amber Underhill
Photo of Karen VanderWerff
Karen VanderWerff
Photo of Dawn Ward
Dawn Ward
Photo of Michael Wooley
Michael Wooley


Pamela C. Enslen

Edward J. Bardelli
Grand Rapids

Michael J. Brady

Jason L. Byrne
Grand Rapids

Melissa N. Collar
Grand Rapids

John N. Cooper II

Kelly R.

Grand Rapids
R. Scott Keller
Grand Rapids

Ian R. Kennedy

Madelaine C. Lane
Grand Rapids

Brian P. Lennon
Grand Rapids

Heidi A. Lyon
Grand Rapids

Matthew T. Nelson
Grand Rapids

Jeffrey A. Ott
Grand Rapids

Nathan W. Steed
Grand Rapids

David M. Thoms

Amber M. Underhill
Grand Rapids

Dawn Garcia Ward

Michael E. Wooley


Some of the services we provide to college and university clients include:
  • Charitable and planned giving guidance
  • Cybersecurity, privacy and breach response
  • Employment law counsel and litigation
  • Employee benefits counsel
  • Endowment administration
  • Free speech and assembly
  • Freedom of Information Act compliance
  • 403(b) Compliance
  • Grant audit defense
  • Grievance administration and arbitration
  • HIPAA compliance
  • Immigration of international faculty and students and I-9 compliance
  • Information Governance
  • Information technology agreements and policies
  • Intellectual property – policies and filings
  • Insurance policy review/audits
  • Internal investigations
  • Labor relations
  • Licensing issues and disputes
  • Litigation
  • Lobbying
  • Open Meetings Act compliance
  • P3/Real estate and construction projects
  • Records Information Management
  • Student discipline and codes of conduct
  • Student safety
  • Title IX compliance
  • Trust and estate services


“We utilize Warner Norcross for most of our legal services including contract reviews, Memo of Understandings, labor laws, specific cases for Human Resources and internal procedural review. I have learned to really appreciate our relationship with Warner Norcross. They are almost always available, know our institution and have excellent response and turnaround time on requests. They have established an excellent working relationship with us and we value their legal expertise and guidance. I get the personalized “touch” from the attorneys I deal with and have confidence in their direction and advice. We had a situation that required specific expertise and contacted Warner Norcross. While they could handle the situation, they knew of a firm that had great success with this type of litigation and recommended them to me. That example speaks very loudly for their commitment to our success. They perform important risk management functions for the College as well.  I have full confidence in the work they do and feel we have a ‘partner,’ not just an attorney, but an ‘invested partner’ who has our best interest at heart. I would certainly recommend Warner Norcross.” - T. Friesner, Alma College

* * *

“Pam Enslen provides excellent legal services for Western Michigan University, including successful litigation defense. The field of higher education law is complex and unique, and Pam quickly assimilated her specialized employment and labor expertise to our higher education environment, as well. She is extraordinarily intelligent, thorough, caring, knowledgeable, and works extremely well and collaboratively with both clients and in-house counsel. Without hesitation, I would recommend Pam Enslen to other universities and colleges, organizations and public and private entities.” - C. Hustoles, Western Michigan University

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"My professional association with Mr. Wooley started in the early 2000s when I was vice president for academic affairs at Saginaw Valley State University. During those years, I hired a handful of faculty members from China, India and Taiwan, and Mr. Wooley provided excellent experience and effective service in handling their immigration papers. Most have become valuable members. I retired from Saginaw Valley State University in 2006 and in my new capacity as vice president for international affairs of Ming Chuan University, a Taiwan-based higher education institution, the first and only university in Asia accredited by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education, I continue to utilize Mr. Wooley's services. Recently, Mr.Wooley successfully processed an application for an H-1B visa for a staff member of Ming Chuan University-Michigan in Taiwan. Mr. Wooley is a trusted legal counsel and his service is professional, responsive, prompt and clear. He delivers!" - Robert S. P. Y., Taipei, Taiwan



Nov 2018
November 29, 2018

Webinar: Legal Trends and Challenges Facing Higher Educational Institutions

  Join us for a webinar on legal trends and challenges specific to higher educational institutions. Warner attorneys will be addressing hot topics such as Michigan’s minimum wage and ne...

Apr 2015
April 20, 2015

Human Resources Seminar 2015

Amway Grand Plaza

  8:00 - 8:30 amLegislative Update-  Recent Developments in Employee Benefits Get the latest on the Affordable Care Act and current trends and issues affecting 401(k) plans. This s...

Mar 2015
March 11, 2015

2015 March CLE Workshop

The Roosevelt Hotel

Institutions continue to grapple with the changing landscape of discrimination laws affecting higher education. Sexual misconduct remains a top concern, with the Department of Education Office f...

NOTICE. Although we would like to hear from you, we cannot represent you until we know that doing so will not create a conflict of interest. Also, we cannot treat unsolicited information as confidential. Accordingly, please do not send us any information about any matter that may involve you until you receive a written statement from us that we represent you.

By clicking the ‘ACCEPT’ button, you agree that we may review any information you transmit to us. You recognize that our review of your information, even if you submitted it in a good faith effort to retain us, and even if you consider it confidential, does not preclude us from representing another client directly adverse to you, even in a matter where that information could and will be used against you.

Please click the ‘ACCEPT’ button if you understand and accept the foregoing statement and wish to proceed.



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