Steven M. Richard

Steven Richard is a highly experienced trial and appellate lawyer who handles complex commercial, higher education, privacy and employment cases throughout the federal and state courts of New England. He is especially active in the Rhode Island Federal District Court, where he has served as the chair of its Local Rules Committee. Steve is also a member of the National Association of College and University Attorneys. He is the co-editor of Nixon Peabody’s Privacy Partner Blog.

What do you focus on?

I handle a broad array of commercial, higher education, privacy and civil rights cases, using more than 20 years of pretrial and courtroom experience to help clients achieve practical and cost-effective solutions. I also have extensive experience in higher education law, handling a wide array of matters for colleges and universities.

Complex Commercial Litigation

I represent diverse institutional clients, including financial service organizations and governmental bodies, in trials, arbitration, appeals and other dispute resolution procedures. With my Masters in Business Education, I understand clients’ business needs and operations and use such knowledge to develop comprehensive litigation strategies. Also, I have a deep understanding of cybersecurity and electronic discovery, and I frequently write and present on the topics.

Higher Education Law

I represent institutions of higher education in matters relating to student discipline, civil rights claims, tenure issues and copyright matters. My practice has included both the development of proper policies on campuses and litigation of cases on behalf of colleges and universities.


I represent employers in matters involving claims under federal and state employment statutes, as well as constitutional and contract claims. I have successfully defended employers before juries in cases raising claims under Title VII, the Americans with Disabilities Act and the Family and Medical Leave Act.

Pro Bono

I also devote my practice to the pro bono representation of our veterans, including successfully presenting claims for benefits relating to PTSD claims and exposure to Agent Orange.

What do you see on the horizon?

Title IX compliance issues will remain a subject of national concern and debate in Higher Education Law. In judicial and administrative proceedings, complaints are increasingly challenging institutional policies and procedures to prevent and remediate alleged sexual discrimination in education. Educational institutions will face vexing issues as they apply evolving interpretations of the law to the particular realities of their campuses.


  • Domestic Transaction Test Applied to Private Action under CEA,” Pretrial Practice & Discovery, American Bar Association, Section of Litigation, March 2, 2015
  • Picking the Right Summary For Your Electronic Evidence,” E-Discovery Connection, DRI Electronic Discovery Committee newsletter, Volume 9, Issue 3, December 2014
  • Are Insurance Investigative Documents Work-Product-Protected?Pretrial Practice & Discovery, American Bar Association Section of Litigation, Vol. 23, No. 1, Fall 2014
  • “Will Remote Trial Testimony Become More Accepted In Civil Trials With Enhanced Technology?” SideBAR, Summer 2014
  • “What Links in an E-Mail Chain Must Be Disclosed,” DRI For the Defense, April 2014
  • “Who Speaks for the Organization at a Deposition?” Providence Business News, June 2013
  • “When defendants can win by losing a case,” Providence Business News, November 2012
  • “Sorting through Electronic Discovery Haystack,” Providence Business News, September 2012

Speeches & Presentations

  • “Ask an Expert Closing Session,” Legal Issues in Higher Education Conference, October 20, 2022
  • “Title IX: Compliance and Regulatory Session,” Boston Bar Association 2020 Higher Education Virtual Legal Conference, Webinar, July 22, 2020
  • “Title IX and Fundamental Fairness Challenges—What Lies Ahead” (Moderator), Boston Bar Higher Education Legal Conference, Boston, MA March 2020
  • “Balancing the attorney-client privilege and the need for disclosure in a breach response,” IAPP Global Privacy Summit, Washington, DC, April 2016

Gender discrimination claims vs RISD dismissed

Rhode Island Lawyers Weekly | May 19, 2022

This article discusses a judge’s dismissal of hostile work environment and disparate treatment claims against the Rhode Island School of Design, finding that the plaintiff’s lawsuit failed to put forth plausible allegations of gender-based discrimination. Providence partner Steven Richard, leader of NP’s Higher Education and Title IX teams, and department attorney Caitlyn Smith, both of the Construction & Real Estate Litigation group, are representing RISD in the case.

US Supreme Court set to rule on campus sexual assault

Times Higher Education | May 19, 2022

Providence partner Steven Richard, leader of NP’s Higher Education and Title IX teams, is quoted throughout this article on the possibility of the Supreme Court addressing Title IX student-on-student liability by clarifying the standard by which an educational institution should consider an act of harassment or assault to have occurred, and defining what corresponding action it then must take.

Remember the flurry of tuition-refund lawsuits? Here's what you need to know.

The Business Journals | February 03, 2022

In this Q&A feature, Providence Complex Disputes partner Steven Richard, leader of NP’s Higher Education team, discusses the state of lawsuits arguing that institutions owe students refunds for moving operations and instruction online, noting some of the variables that could come into play over the next year.

Transgender student rights under Title IX – the still-evolving and shifting landscape

Rhode Island Bar Journal | January 10, 2022

Providence partner and leader of the Higher Education and Title IX teams Steven Richard and department attorney Caitlyn Horbert, both of the Complex Commercial Disputes practice, contributed this article on a much-debated and evolving Title IX question of whether discrimination against a transgender student in an education program or activity constitutes discrimination “on the basis of sex” subject to the statute’s protections.

Conditions on affordable housing project vacated

Rhode Island Lawyers Weekly | September 17, 2021

This article mentions Providence Complex Commercial Disputes partner Steven Richard for representing the Rhode Island State Housing Appeals Board (SHAB), following a Superior Court judge’s ruling that concurred with the SHAB’s decision to overturn conditions imposed by the town of Hopkinton when approving a developer’s application. The SHAB had asserted the town’s conditions did not adequately weigh the local need for affordable housing.

US District Court of RI continues operations during pandemic

The Brown Daily Herald | February 18, 2021

Providence Complex Commercial Disputes partner Steven Richard is quoted in this article on virtual legal proceedings in Rhode Island during the pandemic, noting he has seen a greater degree of collegiality among attorneys and more willingness to work together with opposing counsel.

Hold off or proceed?

Inside Higher Ed | March 26, 2020

Providence Complex Commercial Disputes partner Steven Richard says the lack of a fixed time frame for the completion of Title IX investigations has created uncertainty for colleges and universities during this public health crisis.

Read fine print on cyberthreat coverage

Providence Business News | September 26, 2019

Providence Complex Commercial Disputes partner Steven Richard is quoted in this article about how more Rhode Island businesses are purchasing insurance to protect against the fallout from potential data breaches.


Steven M. Richard

Leader, Higher Education
Leader, Title IX


Phone: 401-454-1020

Fax: 866-947-1332

Notre Dame Law School, J.D., magna cum laude

Bryant College, M.B.A., with honors

Boston University, B.A., summa cum laude

Rhode Island



U.S. Court of Appeals, First Circuit

U.S. Court of Appeals, Second Circuit

U.S. District Court, District of Rhode Island

U.S. District Court, District of Massachusetts

U.S. District Court, District of Connecticut

Steven was selected, through a peer-review survey, for inclusion in The Best Lawyers in America® 2022 in the fields of Commercial Litigation and Privacy and Data Security Law. Steven has been listed in Best Lawyers since 2016.

Steven was also recognized for exceptional standing in the legal community in Chambers USA: America’s Leading Lawyers for Business 2022 for Litigation: General Commercial (Rhode Island) and has been recognized in previous years.

Steven was recognized as a “Rhode Island Super Lawyer” in Business Litigation based on a peer-review survey by Thomson Reuters (2008-2017).

  • American Bar Association
  • Local Rules Committee of the United States District Court for the District of Rhode Island (Past chair)
  • Rhode Island Bar Association, Federal Court Bench/Bar Committee and Superior Court Bench/Bar Committee
  • Bryant University Board of Trustees
  • Federal Bar Association, Rhode Island Chapter President
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