Biography

John T. Graff is a partner in the litigation and higher education practices; he focuses on representing businesses involved in commercial disputes and providing counsel and representing colleges and universities on matters unique to federally-funded colleges and universities.

John has extensive experience litigating complex business disputes in which the outcome of the matter often determines the health or survival of a business.  As a trial lawyer, John recognizes that the most practical, cost efficient, and effective litigation strategies are informed by the demands and realities of trial.  John focuses his litigation practice counseling and representing clients involved in disputes concerning real estate interests and construction issues, intellectual property rights, shareholder contests/freezeouts, defense of employment discrimination claims, Chapter 93A (consumer protection defense and prosecution), enforcement or defense of employee noncompete agreements, and defense of personal injury claims (including claims for wrongful death).  John also assists individuals in probate litigation and fiduciary matters.  John routinely litigates in state and federal court, and he represents clients in defense of state and federal agency actions.  John has litigated cases in Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New York, New Jersey, Texas, and Arizona.

John is a nationally recognized higher education attorney with extensive experience advising colleges and universities on matters unique to higher education, including Title IX compliance, investigations and litigation; advice and audit representation in United States Department of Education Clery Act compliance reviews; and all matters related to student affairs operations.  John also provides logistical consulting to campus law enforcement agencies throughout the country concerning all aspects of police operations.

Practice Areas

Education

  • Suffolk University Law School, J.D., 2005
  • Boston University, B.A., 1997

Recognition and Professional Affiliations

  • Awarded Excellence in Law Up & Coming by Massachusetts Lawyers Weekly, 2015
  • Named a Massachusetts Super Lawyer – Rising Star (Top 2.5% of lawyers 40 and under), published in Boston Magazine, 2008-2012
  • Member, National Association of College and University Attorneys
  • Member, Boston Bar Association, College and University Section
  • Member, Massachusetts Bar Association
  • Member, American Bar Association

Published Works and Appearances

  • Co-presenter, Use of Force by Campus Police, University Risk Managers and Insurance Association, Annual Conference, September 2017
  • Co-presenter, Walking the Tightrope:  How to Balance the Rights of the Accuser and Accused During an Investigation, Title IX ExecuSummit, Annual Conference, July 2017
  • Co-presenter, Title IX and Clery:  How to Do More with Less, National Association of College and University Attorneys, Annual Conference, June 2017
  • Co-presenter, Use of Force by Campus Police: Risk Management Lessons, United Educators, Virtual Seminar, February 2017
  • Co-presenter, Campus Law Enforcement in 2017, National Association of College and University Attorneys, Virtual Seminar, January 2017
  • Peer Reviewer, The 2016 Clery Handbook:  New Developments and Important Changes, University Risk Management and Insurance Association, Government and Regulatory Affairs Blast, July 2016
  • Co-presenter, Law Enforcement on Campus:  Key Issues in Campus Security, National Association of College and University Attorneys, Annual Conference, June 2016
  • Co-presenter, Things That Go Bump in the Night:  Litigation and Hearing Panel Basics, National Association of College and University Attorneys, Sexual Misconduct Continuing Legal Education Workshop, January 2016
  • Co-presenter, Introduction to the Clery Act, National Association of College and University Attorneys, Annual Conference, June 2015
  • Co-author, Core Principals for Educating Campus Law Enforcement in the Handling of Sexual Violence Investigations under Title IX, National Association of College and University Attorneys, June 2015
  • Co-author, Identifying and Training Responsible Employees – Training on the Front Lines, National Association of College and University Attorneys, June 2015
  • Co-presenter, The Fundamentals of Clery Act Compliance for Campus Counsel and Administrators, National Association of College and University Attorneys, Seven-Week Online Course, Summer 2015
  • Contributor, Policy and Programming Changes to the Campus SaVE Provisions of the Violence Against Women Act, Office of the General Counsel, State University of New York, July 2014
  • Presenter, Clery Act Overview, National Association of College and University Attorneys, Annual Conference, June 2014
  • Co-presenter, An Insider’s Guide to the Violence Against Women Act Negotiated Rulemaking:  Implementing Changes to the Clery Act, National Association of College and University Attorneys, Annual Conference, June 2014
  • Author, An Insider’s Guide to the Violence Against Women Act Negotiated Rulemaking:  Implementing Changes to the Clery Act,National Association of College and University Attorneys, June 2014
  • Co-presenter, The Fundamentals of Clery Act Compliance for Campus Counsel and Administrators, National Association of College and University Attorneys, Seven-Week Online Course, Summer 2014
  • Co-presenter, The Fundamentals of Clery Act Compliance for Campus Counsel and Administrators, National Association of College and University Attorneys, Seven-Week Online Course, Summer, 2013
  • Co-presenter, Clery Act Compliance in 2013: Traps for the Unwary in Department of Education Clery Act Audits, National Association of Student Personnel Administrators, Annual Conference, December 2012
  • Presenter, The Clery Act: Current Compliance and Enforcement Issues, National Association of College and University Attorneys in cooperation with the American Council on Education, Virtual Seminar, September 2012
  • Co-presenter, Surviving a DOE Clery Audit: Advice From Those Who Have Been There, National Association of College and University Attorneys, Annual Conference, June 2012

Bar Admissions

  • Massachusetts, 2005
  • United States District Court for the District of Massachusetts, 2006

Representative Matters

  • Successfully defeated motion for third-party discovery in which a plaintiff sought to expose a higher education institution to damages for wrongful death.
  • Successfully tried construction contract breach claim in six-day jury trial.

 

Prior Experience

Prior to joining HRW, John was a litigation attorney at Mirick O’Connell in Worcester, Massachusetts and at a boutique business litigation firm in Boston.

Prior to practicing law, John received commendations and medals for his service as a police officer where he served as a state certified sexual assault investigator and received advanced training in the profiling of serial sexual criminals. He subsequently served as a supervisor in Boston University’s student discipline office where he adjudicated over 1,000 non-academic student discipline cases and was a liaison to law enforcement and member of the University’s sexual assault awareness task force.

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