Cozen O’Connor: Former Dept. of Education Deputy GC Joins Cozen O’Connor’s Institutional Response Group

Former Dept. of Education Deputy GC Joins Cozen O’Connor’s Institutional Response Group

Monday, June 12, 2017

Washington, D.C., June 12, 2017 — Cozen O’Connor is pleased to announce that John K. DiPaolo has joined the firm as a member of the Institutional Response Group (IRG). Previously, DiPaolo worked at the U.S. Department of Education, where he was most recently the deputy general counsel for postsecondary education. 

DiPaolo also served as deputy assistant secretary for the Department’s Office for Civil Rights (OCR), responsible for developing civil rights policy guidance for educational institutions, and was acting chief attorney in one of OCR’s regional enforcement offices. As part of Cozen O'Connor's recently formed Institutional Response Group, DiPaolo will help educational institutions successfully comply with federal civil rights laws and other legal obligations. 

At the Department of Education, DiPaolo’s responsibilities involved Title IX obligations related to sexual misconduct and athletics, Title IV federal financial aid review and compliance, Americans With Disabilities Act /Section 504 protections for students with disabilities, and Title VI protections against racial discrimination.

DiPaolo’s work at Cozen O’Connor will focus on developing compliance frameworks in K-12 public school systems, as well as helping to develop a Title IX /Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) self-audit that will enable higher education institutions to assess their own compliance with federal and state civil rights laws.  DiPaolo's experience with free speech, FERPA and freedom of information issues will also be a tremendous asset to the firm's education clients. He will also conduct internal investigations. 

“John brings a track record of successfully working with institutions at all levels to resolve complex cases on matters such as sexual misconduct, racial disparities in discipline, and access for students with disabilities,” says Gina Maisto Smith, who chairs Cozen O'Connor's IRG. “His experience with civil rights matters allows the IRG to be a leader on all protected class issues, which complements our focused attention to sexual and gender-based harassment and violence. Given the intersectionality of these issues and the move for integrated policies and procedures to address discrimination and harassment, John’s wide-ranging experience will benefit clients seeking holistic approaches to challenging issues.”

“When Cozen O’Connor recruited Gina Maisto Smith, Leslie Gomez, Maureen Holland, Lauren Carella, and Megan Traversari earlier this year, it demonstrated its commitment to forming the country’s premier Institutional Response practice,” DiPaolo says. “I am excited to join such a distinguished group, and look forward to advising K-12 and postsecondary institutions on policy issues, implementation of effective practices, training, and education.”

Prior to working at the U.S. Department of Education, DiPaolo was a senior fellow at the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law, where he litigated education-related civil rights cases and advised on education policy issues. Previously, he also served as executive director of the Beginning with Children Foundation; executive director for partnership schools at Temple University; associate general counsel of Edison Schools; and policy director at Boston Plan for Excellence in the Public Schools.

“We’re thrilled to welcome John to Cozen O’Connor,” says Barry Boss, who is managing partner of the firm’s Washington, D.C., office. “His government background will allow him to play an integral role as the IRG expands its offerings to higher education institutions, and K-12 schools will appreciate his deep knowledge of the issues they face.”

DiPaolo holds a J.D. from Yale Law School, where he was articles editor of the Yale Law Journal, and a B.A. in social studies from Wesleyan University. Following law school, DiPaolo was a law clerk for Judge Anthony J. Scirica of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit.

Cozen O'Connor launched the country's premier Institutional Response Group in February 2017, with the hiring of five nationally renowned attorneys in the field of sexual and gender- based harassment and violence and child protection. The five highly accomplished lawyers include Gina Maisto SmithLeslie M. GomezMegan L. Traversari, and Lauren C. Carella, all of whom were formerly with Pepper Hamilton LLP; and Maureen P. Holland, formerly of Hamburg & Golden, P.C.

About Cozen O’Connor

Established in 1970 and ranked among the top 100 law firms in America, Cozen O’Connor has more than 700 attorneys who help clients manage risk and make better business decisions. The firm counsels clients on their most sophisticated legal matters in all areas of the law, including litigation, corporate, and regulatory law. Representing a broad array of leading global corporations and middle market companies, Cozen O’Connor services its clients’ needs through 26 offices across two continents.