Sarah knows firsthand the complex legal and compliance challenges that corporations, colleges, and universities face, having served as external employment counsel, in-house counsel, and a diversity, equity, and inclusion business unit leader.
She is a skilled litigator with extensive experience representing and counseling corporations and institutions of higher education on a variety of issues.
Sarah regularly counsels her higher education clients – including research institutions in the Ivy League, Big Ten, Atlantic Coast Conference, and Southeastern Conference – on issues related to faculty tenure and promotion; student and employee unionization efforts; discrimination, harassment, and sexual misconduct policy, investigations, and hearings; Title IX compliance; athletics (including NCAA Division I compliance issues and name, image, and likeness); admissions; student conduct; affirmative action in employment and admissions; diversity, equity, and inclusion; the Clery Act; the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA); and physical and digital accessibility.
She has significant experience defending corporations in connection with a variety of employment-related claims including those under the Fair Labor Standards Act, the Family and Medical Leave Act, Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, the Americans with Disabilities Act, the Age Discrimination in Employment Act, and state discrimination and wage and hour laws. Sarah also routinely conducts high-profile and sensitive internal investigations for corporations, including Fortune 500 companies.
Sarah returned to McGuireWoods after spending over 8 years in higher education, the last five of which she spent in Northwestern University’s Office of General Counsel. In this role, her principal areas of responsibility included student-related issues (including athletics) and matters related to diversity, equity, and inclusion for students, faculty, and staff. While at Northwestern, Sarah was an active member of the National Collegiate Athletic Association’s Division I Committee on Infractions, which is charged with deciding cases involving alleged rules violations by NCAA member institutions and their employees.
Prior to her time at Northwestern, Sarah served as the Associate Provost & Director for the Office for Equal Opportunity Programs at the University of Chicago, where she oversaw all complaints of discrimination, harassment, and sexual misconduct and served as the University’s Title IX Coordinator, Section 504/Americans with Disabilities Act Coordinator, and Affirmative Action Officer. She also previously worked at the University of Notre Dame as the Director of the Office of Institutional Equity and Title IX Coordinator and then Advisor to the Vice President for Research. As Advisor to the Vice President for Research, Sarah focused on issues related to export controls, research misconduct, and innovation, translation, and commercialization efforts. Sarah served as a law clerk for the United States Attorney’s Office and as an intern in the Cook County State’s Attorney’s Office, where she focused on various criminal matters including sexual assaults.
She understands the importance of collaborating with her clients and their stakeholders to prevent and respond to legal issues that arise, so that her clients can focus on their distinct missions.
- Appeared in federal and state courts and administrative agencies (including the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission and Office for Civil Rights) on behalf of corporations and educational institutions regarding wage & hour issues, Title IX, Title VI, employment discrimination, harassment, and retaliation.
- Managed large-scale litigation in defense of whistleblower, class-action vacation pay, and employment discrimination claims.
- Represented and advised top research institutions in matters related to student and faculty unionization, athletics compliance, internal and external investigations, student privacy, fundraising, discrimination and harassment (including Title IX), student and employee disciplinary processes, student financial aid, accommodating individuals with disabilities, minors on campus, international programs and activities, diversity, equity, and inclusion, and the Clery Act.
- Helped manage public relations matters for universities, including drafting press statements and developing strategy.
- Developed and conducted university-wide training (including for senior leadership and board members) regarding discrimination, harassment, sexual misconduct, and retaliation and oversaw all internal and external investigations and disciplinary processes regarding the same.
- Provided advice and trainings related to affirmative action programs, job postings, policies, accommodating applicants and employees with disabilities, and personnel issues.
Notre Dame Law SchoolJD
Editor, Journal of Legislation2007
Loyola University ChicagoBAPolitical Science and International Studies
Member, National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA), Division I Committee on Infractions, 2018-2021
- Author, DOJ and ED Issue Guidance on Supreme Court Affirmative Action Decision, McGuireWoods Legal Alert, August 22, 2023
- Author, New Regulations Increase Risk of OFCCP Systemic Discrimination Allegations, McGuireWoods Legal Alert, August 9, 2023
- Author, College Legacy Admission Preferences Called Into Question in New Challenge, McGuireWoods Legal Alert, July 6, 2023
- Quoted, "6 W&H Cases To Watch For The Rest Of 2023", Law360, June 30, 2023
- Quoted, "US Supreme Court overturns race-conscious admissions", University World News, June 30, 2023
- Author, U.S. Supreme Court Issues Landmark SFFA College Affirmative Action Decision, McGuireWoods Legal Alert, June 29, 2023
- Quoted, "Affirmative Action Ruling Could Spawn ‘Years Of Litigation’", Law360, June 29, 2023
- Author, National Labor Relations Board Alleges Student-Athletes Are Employees of Private University, Pac-12, NCAA, McGuireWoods Legal Alert, May 19, 2023
- Quoted, "Experts say there’s ‘no stopping’ employment train with NCAA sports", On3, April 26, 2023
- Author, Student-Athlete Name, Image and Likeness Framework Continues to Evolve, McGuireWoods Legal Alert, April 26, 2023
- Author, Evolving Legal Framework Regarding Transgender Students, McGuireWoods Legal Alert, April 12, 2023
- Author, Illinois Passes Paid Leave for ‘Any Reason’, McGuireWoods Legal Alert, March 14, 2023
- Quoted, "In Johnson v. NCAA, judges are asking the right questions of the college sports model", The Athletic, February 15, 2023
- Quoted, "What you need to know about the latest NCAA legal battle", ESPN, February 14, 2023
- Author, U.S. Department of Education Signals Support of Diversity and Inclusion Training, McGuireWoods Legal Alert, February 2, 2023
- Contributor, Novel Approaches to FBS Football Head Coaches’ Contracts for LEAD1 Athletics Directors, LEAD1 Association, January 2023
- Author, National Labor Relations Board: Student Athletes Are Employees of University, Pac-12 and NCAA, McGuireWoods Legal Alert, December 16, 2022
- Author, Student-Athlete Landscape Continues to Evolve at National and International Levels, McGuireWoods Legal Alert, November 15, 2022
- Quoted, "High Court ‘Counting The Years’ Until Affirmative Action’s End", Law360, October 31, 2022
- Quoted, "Supreme Court to hear arguments over race in college admissions", Roll Call, October 28, 2022
- Quoted, "The future of College Football, Inc.: Where the sport’s money and management go from here", The Athletic, September 27, 2022
- Quoted, "Discrimination Issues To Watch On Campus This Fall", Law360, September 9, 2022
- Author, 7th Circuit Reopens COVID-19 Tuition and Fees Lawsuit, McGuireWoods Legal Alert, August 2, 2022
- Quoted, "Dobbs Draft Hints At Bold Court With Harvard Case On Deck", Law360, June 1, 2022
- Quoted, "They Treated Their Sports Like a Job NY Times", New York Times, May 15, 2022
- Co-author, "NCAA Athletes Will Need a New Playbook to Score on Tax Day", Bloomberg Daily Tax Report, April 26, 2022
- Author, California Continues to Lead the Way on Collegiate Athletics Reform, McGuireWoods Legal Alert, April 21, 2022
- Co-author, "Student Athletes: The Times They Are A-Changin’", NACUA Notes, February 17, 2022
- Author, Student Athletes File NLRB Charges Claiming Employee Status, McGuireWoods Legal Alert, February 10, 2022
- Author, Third Circuit to Decide Whether Student Athletes May Be Employees, McGuireWoods Legal Alert, February 7, 2022
- Author, Supreme Court to Weigh Limited Use of Race in Admissions, Antitrust Case Against Elite Schools, McGuireWoods Legal Alert, January 24, 2022
- Quoted, "Harvard’s Daunting High Court Task: ‘Get To 5 Votes’", Law360, January 24, 2022
- Author, U.S. Solicitor General Discourages Court Review of Harvard’s Limited Use of Race in Admissions, McGuireWoods Legal Alert, December 10, 2021
- New York
- U.S. Court of Appeals for the 7th Circuit
- U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Illinois
- U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Indiana
- U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York
- Speaker, "Defending Corporate DEI Programs After the Supreme Court’s Students for Fair Admissions Decision", Retail Law Conference – RILA/RLC, October 26, 2023
- Speaker, Affirmative Action in College Admissions and Employment, July 6, 2023
- Speaker, "What Could the Future Look Like: Is Congress the Only Option?", LEAD1 Association Spring Member Meeting Forum, Dallas, TX, April 25, 2023
- Speaker, "Title IX Enforcement: A View from the Trenches 2023", District of Columbia Bar, CLE, March 30, 2023
- Speaker, Hot Topics in Higher Education, February 8, 2023
- Speaker, Affirmative Action in College Admissions and Employment, November 9, 2022
- Speaker, "An Uncertain Time: Student Athletes or Employees?", LEAD1 Fall Annual Meeting, Washington, D.C., September 2022
- Speaker, Hot Topics in Higher Education Webinar, August 24, 2022
- Speaker, "Student Athlete Employees", LEAD1 Annual Leadership Summit, University of Notre Dame, July 2022
- Speaker, "Title IX: 50 Years of Equality", Mecklenburg County Bar Webinar, June 2022
- Speaker, "State of the (Student) Union(ization)", National Association of College and University Attorneys National Conference, Pittsburgh, PA, June 2022
- Speaker, Hot Topics in Education Webinar, March 22, 2022
- Speaker, "High Profile Employment Contracts", National Association of College and University Attorneys Spring Employment Law Workshop, Indianapolis, IN, March 2022
- Speaker, "Preparing For A Potential Future With College Athletes as Employees", LEAD1 Association Forum, March 2022