Lisa T. Scruggs provides litigation and counseling services for education and school reform organizations, including individual charter and private schools, charter school networks, charter and education management organizations, school districts and other education nonprofit and for profit organizations and service providers. She has handled a wide range of litigation, transactions and policy matters relating to new school development, teacher evaluation, credentialing and certification reforms, public/private education ventures, virtual education, school finance and parent and student civil rights. She serves as a team lead for the Duane Morris Education industry group.
Ms. Scruggs is nationally recognized in school reform law. She has worked with the Chicago Public Schools, the third-largest school district in the U.S., in a number of capacities. Most notably, she served as Senior Policy Advisor to the Chief Executive Officer (2004-2006) and as a member of the Blue Ribbon Commission to Evaluate Magnet and Selective Schools Admission Policy (2010-2011). She has also served as an Expert Review Panelist for grant competitions sponsored by the U.S. Department of Education's Office of Innovation and Improvement, including the Race to the Top – District competition. Ms. Scruggs has also been selected as a Pahara-Aspen Education Fellow, joining a cohort of leaders who are "reimagining America's public schools."
Ms. Scruggs is also an experienced litigator who has participated in a variety of cases involving a wide range of issues including complex commercial, real estate, business torts and unfair competition law, civil rights and constitutional law.
Ms. Scruggs is a 1998 graduate of the University of Chicago Law School, where she was articles editor for the University of Chicago Roundtable. She holds an M.A. in Education Policy from the University of Chicago, and she is a cum laude graduate of Georgetown University.
Areas of Practice
- Educational Law and Policy
- Commercial Litigation
- Represented an investment fund client in the closing of a $50 million credit facility, enabling the client to significantly grow its business nationwide.
- Served as regulatory counsel for majority investment in PreK-Higher Education holding company with transaction value of more than $110 million.
- Served as regulatory counsel for M&A transactions of PreK-12 for-profit schools involving more than 230 locations with total combined enterprise value of more than $1.3 billion.
- Represent single site charter school in consolidation with charter school network.
- Served as regulatory counsel for private school network change of ownership.
- Counseled K-12 private and charter schools on regulatory, accreditation and authorizer approval, student, parent and employment issues.
- Assisted client with establishment of college bridge degree program involving private secondary school with International Baccalaureate program.
- Advised clients and performed due diligence on charter law aspects of the client's acquisition of multi-million charter school portfolio.
- Worked with charter school facing a non-renewal recommendation to help it obtain a full five-year renewal of its charter.
- Conducted multi-state regulatory compliance review for Fortune 1000 company following acquisition of fast-growing K-12 virtual education provider.
- Performed industry analysis for Fortune 1000 company and reviewed performance of major education management organizations.
- Counseled charter school on feasibility and legal implications of multi-state combination within charter network and advised local school board and negotiated revisions to comprehensive management services agreement.
- Counseled national reform organization on advocacy related to reform of teacher credentialing laws and regulations.
- Performed multi-state statutory and regulatory review for national education reform organization and revised standard performance agreement templates for use with school districts across the United States.
- Served as replication counsel and prepared analysis of laws and regulations in various states applicable to system of for-profit private schools for rapidly growing provider of individualized education programs.
- Analyzed federal, state and local laws and regulations relating to provision of discounted Internet service to public school children and their families.
- Prepared and negotiated agreements between education providers and state and local education agencies.
- Counseled national school transportation company on procurement and bid protest issues.
- Prepared and defended administrative decisions made by the Illinois State Charter School Commission in state trial and appellate court.
- Successfully defended client in multiple lawsuits filed in Illinois state trial courts.
- Appointed Special Assistant Attorney General in Illinois and assisted with negotiation of consent decree for policing reform in City of Chicago.
- Defended national education organization against improper third party subpoenas.
- Litigated claims on behalf of national school transportation company.
- Prepared amicus briefs in federal court, including U.S. Supreme Court, on behalf of national education organizations in cases involving constitutional law and federal statutes.
- Successfully defended local school council in arbitration of administrator's challenge of local school council personnel decision.
- Successfully defended NYSE REIT in a lawsuit involving nuisance and unfair business practice claims brought by a subprime mobile home mortgage lending company.
- Represented NYSE REIT in suits involving unfair business practice claims in California.
- Represented NYSE REIT at trial of federal constitutional challenge of rent control ordinances in California.
- Secured dismissal of arbitration for Fortune 10 company in a license agreement contract dispute.
- Successfully defended Fortune 250 company in multiple class actions involving warranty and consumer fraud claims in California and Illinois.
- Settled constitutional legal challenge to school funding system in Illinois.
Education Law and Policy Engagements
- U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Illinois
- U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit
- U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit
- University of Chicago Law School, J.D., 1998
- Articles Editor, University of Chicago Roundtable
- University of Chicago, M.A., Education Policy, 1994
- Georgetown University, B.A., cum laude, 1993
- Duane Morris LLP
- Partner, 2014-present
- Jenner & Block LLP
- Partner, 2006-2014
- Associate, 2000-2005
- Chicago Public Schools
- Senior Policy Advisor to the Chief Executive Officer, 2004-2006
- U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit
- Law Clerk to the Hon. Ann C. Williams, 1999-2000
- U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Illinois
- Law Clerk to the Hon. Ann C. Williams, 1998-1999
- Business and Professional People for the Public Interest
- Policy Analyst, 1996-1998
- University of Chicago, Consortium on Chicago School Research
- Research Assistant, 1994-1996
- Pahara-Aspen Education Fellowship Program, Fellow, Spring 2015 Cohort
National Alliance for Public Charter Schools, National Litigation Council, 2016-present
National Alliance for Public Charter Schools, National Charter School Legal Action Fund, National Advisory Board Member, 2017-present
- Alliance of Public Charter School Attorneys, Advisory Board Member, 2013-present
- National Alliance for Public Charter Schools Model Law Advisory Committee, 2014-2015
- U.S. Department of Education, Office of Innovation and Improvement
- Charter School Programs Grant Competition, Expert Review Panelist, 2010-2011
- Race to the Top — District Grant Competition, Expert Review Panelist, 2012-2013
- Member, American Bar Association
- Section of Litigation
- Member, Black Women Lawyers Association of Greater Chicago
Civic and Charitable Activities
Bottom Line, Chicago Region
- Regional Board Member, 2016-2017
University of Chicago, Consortium on Chicago School Research
- Steering Committee Member, 2011-2016
- Mikva Challenge
- Board President, 2009-2011
- Member, Board Of Directors, 2007-2011
- Chicago Foundation For Education
- Board Of Directors, 2006-2010
- Chicago Foundation For Women
- Member, Board Of Directors, 2008-2010
- Just The Beginning Foundation
- Member, Board Of Directors, 1999-2004
- Young Women's Leadership Charter School Of Chicago
- Founding Board Member, Vice President, Board Of Directors, 2000-2007, 2011-present
- Ancona School, Board of Trustees, 2012-2015
Honors and Awards
- Listed in Lawyers of Color's "Law Firm Leaders," 2022
- Recipient, with her family, of the Daily Point of Life Award by the nonprofit Points of Life, created by former President George H.W. Bush in 1990 to recognize volunteers who serve as thousands of “points of light” in their communities, 2021
- Best Lawyers In America, Education Law, 2009-2023
Crain’s Chicago Business Notable Minorities in Law, 2019
- Recipient, Third Annual Duane Morris Pro Bono Leadership Award
Illinois Super Lawyers, Business Litigation and Education Law
Leading Lawyers of Illinois, 2014-2019
- National Diversity Council Most Powerful and Influential Women in Illinois Award, 2012
- Chicago Appleseed Fund for Justice, Commitment to Justice Award, 2011
- Crain's Chicago Business 40 Under 40, 2010
- Chicago Lawyers' 40 Lawyers Under 40 To Watch, 2009
- Who's Who In Black Chicago, 2007, 2009
- Leadership Greater Chicago Fellow, 2007-2008
- Chicago Bar Association Alliance For Women
- Alta May Hulett Award, 2006
- Co-author, "Updated CDC Guidance on K-12 Reopening Highlights Factors Schools Must Consider," Duane Morris Alert, February 25, 2021
- Quoted, "Failure to Educate Lawsuits Another Concern for Schools in Pandemic," Business Insurance, December 1, 2020
- Quoted, "Big Law Marks Juneteenth with 'Blackish' Star, Office Closures," Bloomberg Law, June 19, 2020
- Co-author, "Higher Education Institution and Student Relief in the CARES Act," Duane Morris Alert, April 1, 2020
- Author, "Separation of Church and School: Guidance for Public Charter Schools Using Religious Facilities," National Alliance for Public Charter Schools, August 18, 2015
- Co-author, "Education and Training," Ch. 3, The State of Nonprofit America, 2nd Ed., ed. Lester M. Salamon, Brookings Institution Press, 2012
Selected Speaking Engagements
- Speaker, "The Thought We Hate: The Case for Regulating Hate Speech in Public," Midwest Region of the National Black Law Students Association Conference, February 24, 2023
- Panelist, "Students First in K-12," Schools That Can Webinar, January 27, 2022
- Presenter, "Inauguration 2021: Anticipated Government Policy Updates and Changes Regarding COVID-19 Concerns," Duane Morris COVID-19: Navigating Forward Webinar Series, January 28, 2021
Panelist, “The Pursuit of Comprehensive Education Funding Reform Via Litigation” Pritzker School of Law, Northwestern University, Journal of Law and Social Policy, 12th Annual Symposium, The Right to Education: With Liberty, Justice and Education for All?, March 8, 2019
- Panelist, "Women As Leaders, How to Leverage Your Network," Law Women's Leadership Summit, Chicago, January 9, 2016
- Panelist, 2016 Allen Chair Symposium on School Inequality - School Finance, University of Richmond Law Review, Richmond, VA, October 23, 2015
- Panelist, "Prevailing Inequality: Facilities Access, Facilities Financing and Finding a Way Forward," Alliance for Public Charter School Attorneys, Legal Seminar, Seattle, WA, September 11, 2015
- Panelist, Post-Lecture Discussion, George Boyer Vashon Lecture, and Duane Morris Diversity & Inclusion Retreat, Philadelphia, PA, May 1, 2015
- Moderator, "All Eyes on Us: Combatting the Decline of the Black Female Associate - Part 2," BWLA National Summit of Black Women Lawyers, Chicago, IL, April 10, 2015
- Lead Presenter, "Strategies for Ensuring Open Enrollment for Charter Schools," Seventh Annual New Jersey Charter Schools Conference, Atlantic City, March 30-31, 2015
- Panelist, "Funding Equity," Seventh Annual New Jersey Charter Schools Conference, Atlantic City, March 30-31, 2015
- Panelist, "Equitable Access to Educational Opportunities: How to Move Forward in a 'Post-Racial' Society," Shriver Center's 2014 National Law & Policy Dialogue Series, Chicago, May 19, 2014
- Panelist, "Legal Issues: Hot Topics in Charter School Law," 2014 New Jersey Charter Schools Annual Conference, Atlantic City, April 7-8, 2014
- Guest Lecturer, School Law Course, John Marshall Law School, 2010-2013
- Panelist, "Risky Business: Where Quality Authorizing and the Law Intersect," National Association of Charter School Authorizers, Annual Leadership Conference, San Diego, October 23, 2013
- Panelist, "Sealing the Deal: Defining the Elements of a Solid Charter School Contract," National Association of Charter School Authorizers, Annual Leadership Conference, San Diego, October 22, 2013
- Moderator, "Illinois's Charter Sector — An Independent Statewide Authorizer, A Virtual Charter Moratorium, Ongoing Funding Disparities and A Unionizing Labor Force: A Case-Study of What's Coming to You?" The Alliance of Public Charter School Attorneys, Fall 2013 Legal Seminar, Chicago, September 2013
- Presenter, "Facilities Access Further Undermined — Identifying Threats to Facility Use Beyond the Usual Culprits," The Alliance of Public Charter School Attorneys' Fall 2013 Legal Seminar, Chicago, September 2013
- Presenter, "The Supreme Court's Consideration of an Establishment Clause Case—Could Charter Schools Be Left Homeless?" The Alliance of Public Charter School Attorneys' Winter 2012 Legal Seminar, Miami, FL, December 14, 2012
- Panelist, "The State of the State and How the State Charter Commission Impacts the Landscape," INCS 2012 Statewide Charter School Conference, Chicago, October 29, 2012
- Panelist, "Navigating the Legal Minefield: The Latest in Authorizing and Charter School Law," National Association of Charter School Authorizers 2012 Leadership Conference, Memphis, October 23, 2012
Pro Bono counsel to the Chicago Urban League in suit against the Illinois State Board of Education alleging the Board's school funding scheme results in a discriminatory disparate impact on students in "majority-minority districts" in violation of the Illinois Civil Rights Act.