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Chicago attorney to help with UNC’s ‘numerous’ legal problems

UNC retained the New York City-based law firm Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom for help with the University’s “numerous pressing legal challenges.”

Rick White, associate vice chancellor for communications and public affairs, said partners of the firm will be paid $990 an hour, while associates of the firm will make between $450 and $975.

Patrick Fitzgerald is the main lawyer representing the University. 

UNC is facing lawsuits for its mishandling of sexual assaults, admission practices, workplace environment and the education it provides for athletes. The following is a sampling of the most high-profile cases from this year. 

Former player sues UNC

In November, Michael McAdoo, a former football player, sued the University for failing to give him a quality education. 

McAdoo was expelled from UNC after the NCAA took away his eligibility to play. 

The class-action lawsuit, which says the University breached its contract with McAdoo and engaged in deceptive trade practices, was filed following the release of Kenneth Wainstein’s $3.1 million investigation into academic fraud among student athletes. 

The lawsuit asks that all football players be provided with four-year scholarships in the future.

Admissions questioned

The use of race as a factor in UNC’s admissions practices is in spotlight after the legal defense foundation Project on Fair Representation filed a suit against the University on behalf of Students for Fair Admission, Inc.

The suit lists UNC and Harvard  University as defendants; it claims applicants’ 14th Amendment rights were violated. 

“The University stands by its current undergraduate admissions policy and process,” White said in a statement in November, mentioning it was determined in 2012 that UNC’s use of race in was consistent with federal law. 

Willingham to mediation

Former tutor Mary Willingham and UNC are headed to mediation to settle Willingham’s workplace harassment lawsuit. 

Willingham is seeking her position back after resigning in April.

Her complaint said her demotion, comments made about her character and an office relocation are evidence of a hostile work environment. 

“The facts will demonstrate that Ms. Willingham was treated fairly and appropriately while she was employed at Carolina,” said Joel Curran, the vice chancellor for communications and public affairs, in a statement in July. 

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Student sues for assault

In August, junior Jillian Murray  sued the University for mishandling her sexual assault case. 

In her lawsuit, Murray said her case was mishandled by Associate Dean of Students Dean Blackburn, who did not respond to Murray’s query on sexual assault for 20 days. He told Murray her email “simply got lost in (his) inbox.”

The University filed to dismiss the case in September. Murray’s attorney did not respond to requests for comment Tuesday. 

The University is under federal investigation for claims that it is unable to properly adjudicate sexual assault cases.