Akin Gump’s pro bono practice has embraced the education reform movement by representing a range of organizations that provide and promote better public education opportunities, particularly in poor urban and rural districts. Our clients include teacher support organizations (such as Teach for America) and charter schools (publicly funded schools open to the public but run privately and outside the direction of the local school board). Most charter schools are nonprofits that serve the poorest communities in urban centers. While operating as nonprofits, charter schools are in many ways educational “businesses” with many of the same problems as those faced by our commercial clients.
Akin Gump’s single largest pro bono client is the KIPP (Knowledge Is Power Program) network of more than 125 free, open-enrollment college preparatory public charter schools. Akin Gump lawyers provide KIPP schools with legal advice in a range of areas, from employment law to commercial contracts and from litigation to real estate. For instance, our transactional lawyers have advised KIPP on a sophisticated mortgage-financing vehicle that has allowed KIPP to open new schools across the country, and our litigators have secured nearly $750,000 in funds improperly withheld by North Carolina school districts from KIPP’s Gaston College Prep. Akin Gump’s work for KIPP allows school leaders to focus on providing the highest-quality education to their students and getting them to college. Akin Gump also represents other charter school organizations, such as 4.0 Schools and EdVillage.
We also serve as counsel to the national education reform policy organization StudentsFirst, Teach for America and D.C.-based Center for Inspired Teaching.