What's it like to work with F3?
Public education may be legally required, but it’s a calling nevertheless – a cause and a mission with lofty ideals and far-reaching consequences. School districts that call on F3 attorneys know their mission will be ours, their challenges our challenges, and their successes our only goals. Count on us to listen, see the big picture, know the law, get ahead of the issues, offer practical counsel, and build a lasting relationship.
What can F3 solve for you?
Nearly every aspect of public education has legal components. With talent and experience few firms can match, F3 is ready to advise you on every nuance of public education from top to bottom. We are pleased to represent nearly half of California’s 1000 school districts not only because of our legal skills, but also because we’re here for the nearly six million students who depend on you.
“Our lawyers do what they do best, helping educators concentrate on teaching and learning, not putting out fires.”– Terilyn Finders, Chief Client Services Officer
As much as any enterprise, a school district’s countless moving parts must work together and complement one another for the district to accomplish its mission. Governance functions must be in line with state and federal law as well as district policies. Administrators and teachers require training in the ever-changing educational and administrative guidelines they must follow. School boards have elections, which must adhere to laws and regulations. School districts negotiate with labor unions on contracts that require bargaining, drafting, and implementation, as well as managing the day-to-day relations with employee groups on policy and other matters. Schools must be built and maintained according to standards ranging from safety and accessibility requirements to environmental compliance. Additionally, administrators must keep up with ever-changing technologies, with their vendor contracts, training, and implementation challenges. And –hardly finally – when there are conflicts, experienced negotiators and litigators lend a hand to resolve them. In other words, public school districts need a full-service law firm focused entirely on schools. That’s who we are at F3.
Although school districts have such daunting responsibilities and so many diverse challenges, educators come to the task with passion and commitment. At F3, our attorneys welcome the opportunity to partner with educators in meeting those challenges and helping them fulfill their mission to provide the best possible education to the students of every community we serve. We are indeed a firm with a cause. We listen carefully, provide thoughtful counsel based on decades of experience, and build the kind of relationships that make us the lawyers clients enjoy calling. It’s not only our knowledge of all the law that has made us the firm of choice for nearly half of all California public school districts, it’s our devotion to the public-school mission and the people who have dedicated their professional lives to it.
Legal leadership in education
F3 attorneys are active partners with the Association of California School Administrators (ACSA) and the California School Boards Association (CSBA) and frequently speak at conferences on educational governance and a host of other topics. At least five F3 lawyers have served as presidents of the California Council of School Attorneys (CCSA), a statewide organization, and one has served on the national board and as president of the Council of School Attorneys (COSA). We are also frequent presenters at California Association of School Business Officials (CASBO) conferences on such topics as construction contracting, labor agreements, fundraising, and public bidding, as well as having partnered with CASBO to publish a Guide to Real Property for school districts.
Public schools are heavily controlled by federal, state, and local regulation. F3 attorneys helps hundreds of districts not only comply with existing regulations, but also stay aware of what is or may be ahead, so districts can plan accordingly. F3 is considered the preeminent law firm when it comes to voting rights, districting, and redistricting of school districts. When California public school districts were required to transition from “at-large” school board elections to “by trustee area elections,” F3 attorneys helped guide hundreds of districts through the process and become compliant with the California Voting Rights Act. From orienting new board members on their legal obligations to training school administrators on what they may and may not do under the law, our lawyers share with clients the goal of staying in compliance and avoiding litigation.
Focused on technology
Technology has become central to all educational institutions, including K-12. From the constantly evolving educational tech with which schools must keep current to the operational technologies needed to run today’s schools, the relationship between education, technology, and law has never been more entwined. Working with clients on technology matters is an F3 strength, with national recognition in such areas as special education, data privacy, ransomware, artificial intelligence, and other areas impacting public education. We helped establish the state’s first electronic public library and have published the Data Privacy Guidebook, a handbook for school districts on cybersecurity and compliance in the age of technology. We also serve as general counsel to CITE (California IT in Education), an association of chief technology officers in the state’s school districts. Through the COVID pandemic and expansion of online learning requirements (including California government mandates), technology needs and issues became front and center. Our attorneys are highly regarded for their expertise in advising on all aspects of compliance, implementation, contracting, and other components of comprehensive learning technology.
When disputes happen
The last thing school districts want is to find themselves in court and our goal is always to resolve matters amicably; however, when disputes such as labor and employment conflicts, for example, escalate to the courtroom, F3’s deep bench of litigation attorneys are highly skilled at successfully resolving matters in arbitrations, mediations, and federal, state, and administrative courts. We often represent school districts in arbitrations or before administrative judges when there are grievances such as allegations of unfair labor practice. Our attorneys have supported clients by arguing before the U.S. Supreme Court and preparing amicus briefs in Supreme Court cases.