Higher Education Legal Conference

DATE: Wednesday, March 22, 2017

TIME: 8:00 AM to 5:30 PM

LOCATION: Courtyard Boston Downtown | 275 Tremont St | Boston

Hear from leaders in higher education about the primary legal issues they’ve been confronted with and the problem-solving approaches they’ve enacted to facilitate institutional development and promote positive campus affairs. The conference is geared towards college and university legal practitioners who advise higher education leadership directly and professionals who wish to participate in discussions around the emerging legal issues within the higher ed space.

Following introductions and opening presentation, the conference will break out into two high-level tracks with a series of subject-focused presentations within each track. One track will cover institutional and business development topics, while the other track will address legal issues and policy development for campus affairs. The conference concludes with a networking reception.

   Discussion Topics to Include:


Institutional Consolidations
SARA – State Authorization Reciprocity Agreements
Working with Public Charities
IT & Cybersecurity
Federal Issues / Federal Funding Revocation


Sexual Assault on Campus
NLRB Updates
Discrimination on Campus
Responding to Conflict on Campus
Mental Health & Addiction


Lee Pelton | President, Emerson College

Lee Pelton
Emerson College
Boston, MA

Dr Paul J. LeBlanc | President, SNHU - Southern New Hampshire University

Dr Paul J. LeBlanc
SNHU – Southern New Hampshire University
Manchester, NH

Terry W. Hartle | Senior Vice President, Division of Govt & Public Affairs, ACE - American Council on Education

Terry W. Hartle
Senior Vice President, Division of Government and Public Affairs
ACE – American Council on Education
Washington, DC

Bruce Berman_Keynote

Moderated by: Bruce M. Berman
Partner, General Counsel
Washington, DC



DISCUSSION TOPIC: Mergers and Consolidations

It is no secret that some schools are struggling, faced with rising costs, declining enrollments, deeper discounting and lower credit ratings. Some are looking to solve one or more of these problems through merges or consolidation, a trend we anticipate will accelerate in the coming decade.  This presentation is a high-level overview of the issues you will need to think about the day your client or president turns to you and says, “We’re going to merge with Acme U.  You can wrap that up by the end of the year, right?”

  • Joe Herlihy, Boston College
  • Akiyo Fujii, Tufts University
  • Paul Lannon, Holland & Knight LLP
  • Laurie Bishop, Hirsch Roberts Weinstein LLP
  • Judy Sizer, Rose, Chinitz & Rose


DISCUSSION TOPIC: Is the Pendulum Swinging?  Where We Were and Where We’re Going on Campus Sexual Assault

Before April 4, 2011, the date of the seismic Dear Colleague Letter issued by President Obama’s Office for Civil Rights, many schools had little to no formal process for addressing allegations of sexual assault – with complainants sometimes advised to “take some time off,” respondents permitted to have witnesses attest to their “good character,” and disciplinary proceedings languishing for years.  The DCL changed that, as OCR advocated for a more level the playing field.  Now, respondents are arguing that the pendulum has swung too far, and there’s also a new administration in charge in Washington.  In this changing time, this panel will review the past and seek to forecast the future concerning the handling of campus sexual assault.

  • Sarah Rankin, MIT – Massachusetts Institute of Technology
  • Scott Roberts, Hirsch Roberts Weinstein LLP
  • Elizabeth Canning, College of the Holy Cross



The State Authorization Reciprocity Agreement (SARA) is an agreement among member states that establishes comparable national standards for distance education courses and programs offered by colleges and universities.  It allows institutions in those states to offer on-line courses to students in other member states without requiring them to obtain separate approval in each state.  Currently, 47 states plus the District of Columbia belong to SARA, while Massachusetts, Florida and California have not yet joined. If your institution offers or is planning to offer distance learning programs, come to this session to learn about the latest developments with this national initiative.

  • Sandra Doran, Director, New England State Authorization Reciprocity Agreement
  • Yvette Clark, SVP and GC, Southern New Hampshire University
  • Rob McCarron, SVP, Association of Independent Colleges and Universities in Massachusetts



During the last eight years, new decisions and policies of the National Labor Relations Board brought sweeping changes to higher education private sector labor law, both procedural and substantive.  How will those changes fare under the new Administration and a soon-to-be reconstituted NLRB? Join two seasoned practitioners to learn what may happen to adjunct and graduate student organizing, “micro” units, accelerated elections, rulings on confidentiality and employee speech, faculty as “managerial “employees, and other topics.

  • Nick DiGiovanni, Morgan Brown & Joy, LLP
  • Jeff Hirsch, Hirsch Roberts Weinstein LLP


DISCUSSION TOPIC: Working with the MA AGO Division of Public Charities

Division leadership will describe their oversight over charitable assets in the Commonwealth and review common issues and recent developments, including how they intersect with your work in higher education.  If you work with the Division, or expect to, come to learn the latest.

  • Courtney Aladro, Massachusetts Attorney General’s Office
  • Jon Green, Massachusetts Attorney General’s Office


DISCUSSION TOPIC: Challenging Legal Issues in a Shifting Political Environment

The panelists will discuss the challenges of navigating difficult issues on campus in a shifting political environment.  Topics covered are likely to include new and emerging “minority” groups on campus, how and when an institution should engage in political issues, and the evolving issues associated with sanctuary campuses, among others.

  • Phil Catanzano, Holland & Knight LLP
  • Deke Mathieu, Trinity College
  • Mary Jeka, Tufts University



Cybersecurity” is a word said often, but not always fully understood.  This session will bring together a diverse set of panelists – an FBI agent, a former Department of Homeland Security lawyer, a scientist conducting cutting-edge cybersecurity research for the Department of Defense, and a campus IT security specialist – to talk about the many ways cybersecurity affects our daily lives, and to expand our view of just what cybersecurity means.  The discussion will offer insight into the types of cyber threats facing colleges and universities, some of the legal issues and response options that arise as a result of these threats, how law enforcement seeks to engage with the higher education community (both proactively and in response to specific incidents), and how the U.S. government is responding to threats from abroad.

  • Gus P. Coldebella, Fish & Richardson
  • Marc Zissman, MIT Lincoln Laboratory
  • Special Agent, FBI Boston Cyber Squad
  • Dave LaPorte, MIT


DISCUSSION TOPIC: Don’t Feed the Frenzy: Responding to Crisis on Campus

When a crisis hit your campus, it’s important to respond quickly and clearly to prevent early and often erroneous perceptions from becoming indelible reality. This panel will tackle an unfolding PR calamity and work interactively with the audience to build the response team, develop messaging for on and off campus constituencies, and identify and manage legal risks, all while the clock is ticking.

  • Norm Jones, Amherst College
  • Sylvia Spears, Emerson College
  • Lisa Rutherford, Amherst College
  • Scott Roberts, Hirsch Roberts Weinstein LLP


DISCUSSION TOPIC: Challenges Ahead:  What’s at Risk with Federal Funding, Immigration, Tax Exemption, Etc. Etc.?

When a President tweets “No free speech, NO FEDERAL FUNDS?” to California’s flagship state university, the higher education community sits up and takes notice.  At a high level, learn the steps the government must take to:

  • revoke your federal funds, including Title IV and federal grants and contracts
  • remove you from SEVIS and participation in faculty and staff visa programs
  • revoke your 501(c)(3) status etc., etc. etc.


  • Deirdre Heatwole, General Counsel of The University of Massachusetts
  • George Lester, Fragomen, Del Rey, Bernsen and Loewy LLP
  • Stephanie Gold, Hogan Lovells
  • Lorry Spitzer, Ropes & Gray
  • Steven Locke, Brandeis University


DISCUSSION TOPIC: Students and Mental Health – Addressing Risk and Avoiding Discrimination

The panelists will discuss how colleges and universities can respond, effectively and without discrimination, to students with mental health issues who exhibit unsafe behaviors.  Topics covered will include the legal landscape, role of in-house counsel, threat assessment and behavioral intervention, and examples of leave, return and hospitalization policies.

  • David Randall, MIT – Massachusetts Institute of Technology
  • Dana Fleming, Tufts University
  • Paul Lannon, Holland & Knight LLP


Boston Bar Member Exclusive Offers:

Boston Bar Member | Early Registration Discount
Early registration 10% discount available to Boston Bar members registering
prior to March 01, 2017. Login to your member account and register for the
conference using promo code: Early10 -or- contact
Margaret DeMoura: 617.778.1946 | mdemoura@bostonbar.org
Boston Bar Member | Colleague Group Rate
$295 per registration for each Boston Bar member, plus any number of their
colleagues registering together. To register your entire group, please contact
Margaret DeMoura: 617.778.1946 | mdemoura@bostonbar.org

Boston Bar Membership + Conference Offer:

Not a Boston Bar member? No problem. Join the Boston Bar for only $100
when you register to attend the Higher Education Legal Conference. To take
advantage of the Membership + Conference offer, register here -or- contact
Tara Trask: 617.778.1984 | ttrask@bostonbar.org




Ropes & Gray LLP

Review the conference brochure for more information regarding sponsorship opportunities or contact
Erica Southerland:  617.778.1930 | esoutherland@bostonbar.org


Phil Catanzano

Phil Catanzano
Senior Counsel
Holland & Knight LLP

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Christine Hughes
Vice President and General Counsel
Emerson College

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Scott Roberts
Co-Managing Partner
Hirsch Roberts Weinstein LLP

Administrative Legal Services director Lisa Rutherford poses for a studio portrait on Feb. 25, 2008 at the University of Wisonsin-Madison. ©UW-Madison University Communications 608/262-0067 Photo by: Bryce Richter Date:  02/08    File#:   D3 digital camera frame 5643

Lisa Rutherford
Chief Policy Officer and General Counsel
Amherst College

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Judith Sizer
Senior Counsel
Rose, Chinitz & Rose

Jay Wilcoxson cropped

Jaren Wilcoxson

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