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Matthew R. Plain

Co-Managing Partner

Matt concentrates his practice in labor and employment, public agency, regulatory compliance, workplace and school investigations, professional liability, general liability, contract drafting and disputes, and administrative law. He devotes a considerable portion of his practice to serving clients in the education and nonprofit communities.

Serving as general counsel for several nonprofits, Matt provides advice on incorporation, governance, dissolution, employment, contracts and contract disputes, liability, and regulatory compliance, as well as representation before state administrative agencies and state/federal courts.

Matt also maintains a significant education law practice, advising governing bodies of schools and administrators on a myriad of education law issues, including special education, employment, student/staff discipline, government relations, open government, contract law and constitutional law. In addition to representing numerous schools in a variety of matters before state administrative agencies and state/federal courts, Matt also serves as outside general counsel to the Massachusetts Charter Public Schools Association and the Rhode Island League of Charter Schools. He is active with the Alliance for Public Charter School Attorneys and served on the National Litigation Council for the National Alliance of Public Charter Schools.  Matt regularly presents substantive seminars on legal issues affecting charter public schools, traditional public schools, as well as private and independent schools.

Matt handles investigations involving discrimination, harassment, civil rights, Title IX, misfeasance and malfeasance for a variety of organizations, public and private.

Prior to law school, Matt taught 7th and 8th Grade in the North Carolina public schools for four years and has an Advanced Competencies Teaching License for Social Studies Education (Grades 6–12).  Matt recently concluded his second term as an elected member of the East Greenwich School Committee, a seven-member body charged with the care, control and management of the East Greenwich Public Schools, a leading public school district with 6 schools, over 300 employees, approximately 2,600 students and a budget of approximately $40,000,000.  In that capacity, he served on the district’s collective bargaining agreement negotiation team, numerous hiring committees, and the personnel and policy subcommittees.


  • Roger Williams University School of Law (J.D.) Roger Williams University Law Review Notes and Comments Editor
  • University of North Carolina at Greensboro (M.Ed.)
  • University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill (B.A.)

Bar Admissions

  • Rhode Island
  • Massachusetts
  • Connecticut
  • New York
  • U.S. District Court, Massachusetts
  • U.S. District Court, Rhode Island
  • Persuaded the Rhode Island Supreme Court to order a local school district to reimburse the firm’s client, a local independent public charter school, for tuition payments the district had wrongfully withheld under a mistaken interpretation of state law.
  • Led team of legal, education, and financial experts in conducting professional instruction, programmatic and fiscal audit of public school district with 19 schools, approximately 9,000 students, over 1,000 employees and a budget of approximately $170,000,000.
  • Obtained a Superior Court Judgment in favor of a career and technical school regarding school funding.
  • Successfully defended in administrative appeals two schools facing closure by the Rhode Island Department of Elementary and Secondary Education.
  • Successfully defended a local education agency in an administrative hearing regarding school choice.
  • Successfully defended a local education agency in an administrative hearing regarding school funding.
  • Successfully defended local education agencies in special education due process hearings.
  • Successfully defended local education agencies facing open government complaints before the Rhode Island Attorney General.
  • Successfully negotiated resolutions for local education agencies facing discrimination complaints before the United States Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights.
  • Successfully defended local education agencies and nonprofits before the Department of Labor and Training.
  • Successfully defended schools and nonprofit organizations in administrative hearings before the Commission for Human Rights.
  • He served as one of the primary drafters of the current Rhode Island Charter Public Schools Act.
  • Contributed to revisions to the Rhode Island Regulations Governing the Education of Children with Disabilities, current technical education.
  • Contributed to the RI regulations governing career and technical education.
  • Obtained a $1.2 million settlement on behalf of a client who suffered catastrophic spinal cord injuries while being transported in a wheelchair van to a medical appointment.
  • Obtained a $200,000 settlement for Plaintiff in a case involving bad faith insurance practices.
  • Obtained a $1,300,000 jury verdict for Plaintiffs in a wrongful death case against a municipality.

  • Title IX Coordinator (K-12) Foundations Certification, Association of Title IX Administrators (ATIXA) (2021-2023)
  • “Lunch With Legends” article series published by the Rhode Island Bar Journal, highlighting senior members of the Rhode Island bar
  • “Results Above Rights: The No Child Left Behind Act’s Insidious Effect on Students with Disabilities,” 10 Roger Williams University Law Review 249
  • “Personnel Practices” article series published by the Rhode Island Small Business Journal highlighting legal issues facing Rhode Island employers
  • Various articles in the Barton Gilman School Law Bulletin, including topics: Massachusetts leave laws for victims of domestic abuse, the Rhode Island school funding formula, approval of single-gender extracurricular school events in Rhode Island, social media privacy for Rhode Island employees, and the verification requirements of student identification.
  • Leader in the Law, Rhode Island Lawyers Weekly (2022)
  • Best Lawyers in America in Education Law (2018-2022)
  • Professional Excellence in the Law in Education Law, Rhode Island Monthly (2019-2020)
  • Rhode Island Super Lawyers  (2018-2020)
  • Rhode Island Super Lawyers Rising Star (2011–2015)
  • Mortar Board Award for advocacy efforts on behalf of the school community by the Segue Institute for Learning (2013)
  • 40 Under Forty by the Providence Business News (2011)

Matt regularly presents substantive seminars on a variety of education, employment and liability issues. A sampling recent seminars include:

  • Intellectual Property Considerations for Charter Schools:  Tips, Traps, and Mishaps
  • Employment Law Update for Massachusetts Charter Schools
  • Legal Considerations for Business Owners
  • The Hiring Process: Do’s and Don’ts
  • Managing (Insurable) Claims Asserted Against Your School or Network: Tips, Traps, and a Roadmap
  • Personnel Practices
  • Assisting RI Charter Schools with Their Legal Issues
  • Newfangled and Old-Fashioned Legal Issues Facing Non-Profit Employers
  • Top Ten Best Practices for Non-Profit Employers
  • Addressing Legal Issues Employers Face When Confronted with Sick, Injured, or Disabled Employees
  • Negligence in Schools: Lawsuits and Liability
  • Legal & Ethical Obligations of Charter School Governing Bodies

Matt was law clerk to the Honorable George E. Healy Jr., Chief Judge, Rhode Island Workers’ Compensation Court, 2005–2006.

  • Member, Education Law Association
  • Member, East Greenwich School Committee (elected 2016)
  • Advisory Board, Roger Williams University School of Education
  • Graduate, 2013 Leadership Rhode Island Iota II class
  • Community Advisory Board, United Way of Rhode Island (2012-2018)
  • Editorial Board, Rhode Island Bar Journal
  • Board of Directors, Avenger Football Alumni Association (2003 – Present)
  • Advisory Board, Roger Williams University Pro Bono Collaborative (2008-2014)
  • Board of Directors, Fund for Urban Collaborative Accelerated Program (UCAP) (2011–2014)
  • Delegate, Rhode Island Bar Association House of Delegates (2011–2012)
  • Mentor, Year Up Providence (2010–2011)
  • Board of Directors and Executive Board (2006–2013), The Manton Avenue Project
  • Board of Directors, Blackstone Academy Charter School (2007)
  • Board of Directors, St. Thomas More Society (2005–2006)
  • United Way of Rhode Island – Keel Club
  • Member, USA 500 – Providence 2
  • Member, East Greenwich Chamber of Commerce
  • Welcoming Committee, Christ Church – East Greenwich
  • Committee Chair, Cub Scouts Pack 3 – East Greenwich
  • Youth Sports Coach
    • East Greenwich Flag Football Association
    • East Greenwich Basketball Association
    • East Greenwich Little League
  • Member, Rhode Island Bar Association
  • Member, Massachusetts Bar Association
  • Member, New York Bar Association

More about

Matt played football and baseball under the tutelage of Rhode Island Interscholastic League Hall-of-Fame coach Art Kershaw.