The NCHERM Group Legal Representation

Best Practices for Campus Health and Safety

Special Counsel Program Special Counsel & Legal Retainer Button

The NCHERM Group, LLC is one of the largest and most prominent higher education law practices in the country, thanks to its pioneering flat-fee legal services model. The Special Counsel program is the flat-fee annual retainer arrangement through which The NCHERM Group currently serves as outside counsel to 75 colleges and universities and has served as counsel to more than 250 campuses in the last 17 years.

If you already have in-house or outside counsel, why consider The NCHERM Group?  We don’t replace your current legal services; we work along side them, offering specialized expertise. Most of the campuses in the Special Counsel program have attorneys already, and we work collaboratively, and well, together.

The advantages are many. First, our specialty is preventive law and training, something many in-house counsel offices don’t have as much time for as they would like. We supplement that need. Second, we offer unparalleled understanding of the legal needs and issues facing student affairs, a growing source of liability risk for most campuses. Third, The NCHERM Group’s longstanding national leadership on Title IX, violence prevention, and threat assessment gives us a depth on these subjects that no other firm can offer. Finally, you’ll find that The NCHERM Group’s legal services are holistic, impacting your community with systems-level solutions rooted in proven culture change strategies.

Specialized needs require specialized advice.

The Special Counsel program is useful for colleges that want more of our time and consulting advice, or expert witness services, without the cost of regular daily and hourly fees. We created this program after realizing that for colleges and universities utilizing outside counsel, there is a real hesitation to pick up the phone and get the advice you need (especially creating access for student affairs departments) for fear of running up the meter. So, we took away the meter with a flat-fee.

The Special Counsel program is especially attractive for campuses with long-term or large-scale projects. For one campus, we are using the program for reviews of the student conduct code and faculty and staff manuals. For another, we are reviewing all the emergency response and crisis protocols. For yet another, the retainer has been used for a long-term student organizations risk management initiative. Another is being used to create a four-year strategic curriculum on high-risk student health and safety issues.

There are two options for how the program works:

In the first option, the college or university appoints The NCHERM Group “Special Counsel for Student Conduct Issues,” “Special Counsel to the President or Vice President” or provides a similar title, to ensure that the protections of the lawyer-client relationship extend to the work that we do. A flat-fee retainer is paid, covering a one-year period.

In the second option, The NCHERM Group serves the college or university as Special Advisor, though the relationship need not be a formal appointment. While the relationship will not carry the lawyer-client privilege, it will have a consulting nature. Most of the Special Advisor relationships are non-disclosed by clients wishing to maintain our relationship non-publicly.”

Additionally, The NCHERM Group offers a Title IX-specific retainer program that allows us to work collaboratively with your campus for a year to audit institutional Title IX compliance comprehensively, and then to systematically address issues of policy, procedures, staffing, training and compliance best practices.

This retainer program can be formulated as a Special Advisor consulting relationship, rather than legal representation, upon request.

To initiate a retainer, a flat-fee is paid in advance or over the course of a year, covering a one-year period. Once the retainer is in place, The NCHERM Group provides:


  • On-site visits by The NCHERM Group’s Partners and/or affiliated consultants (as you need them), for training, consulting, and/or student programming. The minimum is a three-day retainer (three annual on-site visits), and the average for retainer clients at present is five days. 


  • One hour Skype presentation with Board or Cabinet Members. 
  • Up to 20 hours of off-site consulting time, including by phone and e-mail, on demand, throughout the year for as many administrators as you wish to designate. 


  • Enhanced membership with unlimited campus members to NaBITA, the National Behavioral Intervention Team Association. 
  • Super Membership with unlimited campus members to ATIXA, the Association of Title IX Administrators. 



  • Campus Sexual Assault Response Protocol. 
  • Admission and Screening of Students with Criminal Histories Protocol. 
  • NaBITA Model Protocol for Behavioral Intervention Teams. 
  • Student Organizations Risk Management Protocol. 
  • Model Developmental Student Code of Conduct. 
  • Model Voluntary and Involuntary Medical Leave Protocol. 
  • Suicidal Student Protocol. 
  • Model Campus Sexual Misconduct Policies and Procedures and ATIXA One Policy, One Process Model Policy and Procedure for Civil Rights Equity Grievance Resolution. 
  • Investigation in a Box kit from ATIXA. 


  • One registration to a four day hotel-based Certification Training OR one group registration for up to 7 people to a campus-hosted Certification Event. 

Retainer Clients also receive member discounts through both associations for most events, seminars, and certifications and weekly and monthly risk management and prevention newsletters that include timely tips, legal updates, and resources.

2017 Revised Retainer inclusions are available to new and renewing retainer clients. Current Retainer Clients are welcome to add additional services on at any point in their contract.

If there is a particular case or situation, just pick up the phone and call. If you have a question about a law, we’re here to answer it. If you have a problem, we can help you to creatively problem solve.

For more information, contact Kate Halligan, Executive Vice President for Client Relations at 610-579-3725.

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