Phil Catanzano is an attorney in Holland & Knight's Boston office. He is a member of the Education Team, and focuses his practice on advising higher education and independent school clients on a wide range of issues, including disability law, harassment (bullying and/or hazing), sexual violence on campus, intercollegiate athletics, disability law, campus safety, privacy laws and laws impacting speech. Mr. Catanzano also frequently defends institutions confronting government investigations or audits. He is a regular speaker on issues involving higher education law and provides customized training to meet the needs of our clients.
Prior to joining Holland & Knight, Mr. Catanzano was an attorney with the U.S. Department of Education's Office for Civil Rights (OCR) for almost a decade.
Sexual Violence on Campus
A primary aspect of Mr. Catanzano's practice is advising institutions on their policies and practices surrounding sexual misconduct on campus. During his time at OCR, Mr. Catanzano led investigations of several higher education institutions that were alleged to be out of compliance with Title IX in regard to their response to sexual violence on campus. These investigations ranged from broad compliance reviews that analyzed every aspect of an institution's response mechanism to instances of sexual violence or harassment, to specific allegations of sexual violence or harassment filed by individual students or employees. At Holland & Knight, Mr. Catanzano has investigated allegations of misconduct involving athletes, coaches, Greek members, faculty and other staff. Mr. Catanzano has also monitored and reviewed investigations conducted by others to report on compliance with federal laws and institutional processes. He has served as an interim Title IX coordinator for institutions, and has trained countless individuals with regard to investigating and adjudicating claims of sexual misconduct. Mr. Catanzano also provides customized trainings on appropriate boundaries, hazing, mandatory reporting laws involving minors and similar topics.
Mr. Catanzano frequently advises institutions at the Division I, Division II and Division III level with regard to federal and NCAA compliance. This advice often follows programmatic reviews of each component of the athletic programs involved. In addition to the investigations into coaches or athlete misconduct, Mr. Catanzano is often consulted to advise institutions with regard to sanctions for other misconduct (e.g., sexual misconduct) and how to appropriately navigate Title IX, relevant NCAA transfer rules, privacy laws and other related compliance issues.
Accessibility on Campus
Mr. Catanzano devotes a significant portion of his practice to investigating, advising and drafting policies with regard to disability on campus and the accommodation process. He has focused his practice in providing advice on digital and physical accessibility issues on campus, and he has represented many institutions in creating sound internal compliance programs to appropriately accommodate individuals with disabilities. Representative matters include focuses on the physical accessibility of urban and rural campuses, institutional accommodations for service and support animals, allergies and other disability-related requests. He has also assisted institutions in responding to individuals that exhibit threatening or suicidal behavior, insofar as institutions commonly must consider disability-related protections in the face of a potential threat to the community. This final category often leads to his working closely with campus emergency response providers, student accessibility staff, and other medical and psychological caregivers on a campus.
Federal Agency and Title IX Witness Experience
For each of the areas above, Mr. Catanzano has represented institutions involved in federal reviews or audits, conducted mostly by different components of the U.S. Department of Education or the U.S. Department of Justice. Mr. Catanzano has also served as an expert witness in several matters involving Title IX, with regard to sexual misconduct and athletic equity.
Mr. Catanzano teaches graduate level courses on K-12 and college/university law as an adjunct professor at Harvard University, as well as dual listed courses at Boston College Law School and Boston College's Lynch Graduate School of Education and Human Development.
- Boston College Law School, J.D.
- Boston College Lynch School of Education, M.Ed.
- Northeastern University, B.S.
- U.S. Court of Appeals for the First Circuit
- U.S. District Court for the District of Massachusetts
- National Association of College and University Attorneys (NACUA)
- Adjunct Faculty, Harvard University and Boston College
- Boston Bar Association, Civil Rights and Civil Liberties Section, Member, 2008-2016; Chair, 2014-2016; College and University Section, 2015-Present
- Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court, Standing Committee on Pro Bono Legal Services, 2013-2016
- Adaptive Sports, New England, Board of Directors
- The Best Lawyers in America guide, Boston Education Lawyer of the Year, 2022
- The Best Lawyers in America guide, Education Law, 2018-2022