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Co-Managing Partner - Leander A. Dolphin

Leander A. Dolphin

Co-Managing Partner

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Leander A. Dolphin is Co-Managing Partner of the firm.

Leander is a partner in the School Law Practice Group. In private practice and as former vice president of human resources and general counsel for the Girl Scouts of Connecticut, Leander has dedicated her career to advising educational institutions and organizations that foster the development of children, youth and young adults. An effective litigator and counselor, she draws on her dispute-resolution experience to help clients identify shared goals and find common ground with staff, parents, students and community stakeholders.

Leander advises universities, colleges, public school districts, independent schools, and other public- and private-sector clients on the full range of education and employment matters. Schools are often at the forefront of legal, regulatory and societal concerns; in this regard, she provides guidance on fast-developing issues involving sexual harassment (Title IX) and workplace health and safety standards in the COVID-19 era, as well as a range of equity, discrimination and reverse-discrimination considerations.

She also works with clients to develop and implement effective policies on Americans with Disabilities Act accommodations and to address teacher, staff and student discipline concerns, confidentiality and privacy issues in education, and special education disputes, among other areas.

When disputes arise, Leander represents clients in all phases of investigations, negotiations, pre-trial discovery, trials and appeals. She has successfully defended and pursued claims in state and federal courts, before administrative agencies, and in alternative-dispute resolution forums across the state. Leander understands the unique challenges facing parties in education-related litigation, not the least of which is that administrators, teachers, parents and students involved in a dispute will often continue to work together for years after the issue has been resolved. With this in mind, Leander is both focused and forthright, giving clients the answers and information they need (and not always what they want), with a focus on achieving results that foster ongoing collaboration.

A skilled educator in her own right, Leander has been an adjunct professor of education law at Quinnipiac University School of Law. She also conducts a wide range of workshops for public- and private-sector clients on topics such as sexual harassment, bullying, special education, disability and other forms of discrimination, and confidentiality.

Leander is a trusted advisor to many of her clients and is regularly sought out for her guidance and access to resources in areas beyond education and employment law. Her executive experience at the Girl Scouts of Connecticut imbues her advice with practicality that her clients appreciate. 

Distinctions

  • Listed as a Connecticut Super Lawyer Rising Star®: Schools & Education (2013-2017)
  • American Bar Foundation: Fellow
  • Connecticut Bar Foundation: James W. Cooper Fellow
  • National Bar Association: "40 Under 40 Nation's Best Advocates" Award (2017)
  • New Leader in the Law, Connecticut Law Tribune (2014)
  • Lawyers of Color's Hot List (2014)
  • Lawyers of Color - High Achievers, Connecticut Law Tribune (2011)
  • 100 Women of Color Awards 2017
  • Howard Law Journal, Executive Solicitations Editor

Teaching Positions

  • Quinnipiac University School of Law: Adjunct Professor, Education Law

Professional Affiliations

  • American Bar Association: Litigation; Young Lawyers
  • Connecticut Bar Association: Labor & Employment Section
  • National Bar Association: Commercial Law Section
  • National School Boards Association: Council of School Attorneys
  • Connecticut School Attorneys Council
  • National Association of College and University Attorneys
  • ​George W. Crawford Black Bar Association: Member, Board of Directors (2007-2008); Secretary (2005-2007)
  • National Business Officers Association

Community Involvement

  • The Ethel Walker School: Board of Trustees
  • The Governor's Prevention Partnership: Board Member (2012-present)
  • The Lawyer's Collaborative for Diversity, Inc. (LCD): Associates Advisory Committee
  • Hartt School for Performing Arts: Board of Trustees (2010-2013)
  • Girl Scouts of Connecticut: Fund Development Committee (2009-2010); Girl Scouts of the USA: National Delegate (Girl Scouts of Connecticut Delegation) (2008)
  • Fred D. Wish School Volunteer Tutor Program (2004-2007)

Successful Representation in Title IX, IDEA/Section 504 and Harassment/Bullying Cases

Successfully represented multiple school districts in claims before the Office of Civil Rights, alleging violation of the IDEA and Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, as well as claims alleging violation of Title IX of the Education Amendments Act of 1972 (sex discrimination), Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 (race discrimination) and Title II of the Americans with Disabilities Act ("ADA") (disability discrimination). Negotiated numerous resolution agreements, avoiding letters of findings by OCR or corrective action.

Successful Representation in IDEA Case Involving Extended Day Program

Successfully represented a Connecticut Board of Education in defense of a claim brought under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act ("IDEA"). The Parent sued our client, claiming that the Board was required to fund an extended day program at a private placement. The Board of Education prevailed at hearing, with the hearing officer finding that the District had provided a free appropriate public education for the student, and the student did not require placement in an extended day program at public expense.

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Cover of American School Board Journal
 

Practice Areas

Industries & Featured Services

Education

  • Howard University School of Law, J.D., 2004
  • Wesleyan University, B.A., 1999, high honors

Bar Admissions

  • Connecticut

Court Admissions

  • U.S. District Court, District of CT
  • U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit

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