The Associated Colleges of the South and the law firm of Steptoe & Johnson PLLC have reached an agreement by which ACS members may collaboratively obtain sophisticated higher education legal services at competitive rates. By taking advantage of the members’ collective purchasing power, ACS member institutions will be able to participate in compliance seminars, receive regular newsletters on higher education legal issues, and access emergency legal services, in addition to getting project-specific services as needed.

Many ACS members are already participating, but to initiate the relationship between your institution and Steptoe, the firm will provide an engagement letter that reflects your institution’s specific needs. Please contact ACS president Owen Williams if you are interested in joining or getting more information.

We believe the plan offers ACS members an opportunity to obtain a substantial benefit as a consequence of their collaboration.

Summary of the Plan

The overall goal is to provide sophisticated, higher education-oriented legal services at costs materially below market levels in recognition of the combined buying power of ACS members.

Services are divided into an Educational Component, that is, training and education programs designed to avoid problems, and a customized or project-specific component, based on legal issues that may arise.

The educational component includes quarterly Hot Topics training sessions in Atlanta or via webinar. Content will be determined with input from participants but it will generally consist of issues such as Title IX, FERPA, the Clery Act, the ADA and other compliance issues, and hot topics such as unionization efforts on campus or the impact of the new administration in Washington. Members receive monthly Higher Ed Legal Updates via email. These can be sent to multiple recipients on each campus. Participants also receive 24/7/365 Emergency Management & Title IX Assistance – Up to 4 hours per month of advice and counsel to address urgent situations on campus.

The project-specific component  is that part of the plan where members have access to Steptoe Johnson attorneys on an as-needed basis. The plan offers fee structures designed to provide cost-effective solutions when problems specific to the member’s institution arise

Members receive either a  half- or a full-day of attorney J.H. Newberry’s time each month at an effective discount of 27.5% or 32.5% off standard rate. Additional time is provided on as-needed basis with discount of 26.3% or 28.8%, depending on the type of agreement the member has chosen.

The Plan is cancellable at any time, but a one year, good faith commitment is requested, after which the member’s needs would be reassessed.

We also offer an Alternative Fee Structure based on an ACS Standard Discount. Educational Component Participants are entitled to the services of J.H. Newberry at a 20% discount from the standard hourly rate. Services by others, if needed, are provided at a 10% discount.

Members may opt out of the educational component but still get discounted access to Steptoe Johnson’s J.H. Newberry at a 15% discount from the standard hourly rate. Services by others with the firm, if needed, are provided at a 5% discount.

The first quarterly Hot Topics Training Session was held in September, 2017 and an archived video of it is available free below:


The second Hot Topics Training Session was held in December, 2017 and an archived video of it is available here: