Michael Stefanilo, Jr. is a partner at BHPK Law practicing in its litigation group. He has been recognized by multiple reputable organizations as one of the best attorneys practicing law in Greater Boston, the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, New England, and the United States. As a civil litigator, Michael represents both plaintiffs and defendants with unprecedented success. He routinely handles employment law and civil rights matters, municipal and school law litigation and counseling, personal injury claims, and is a highly experienced insurance defense attorney. Michael practices in both federal and state court, and frequently before the Massachusetts Commission Against Discrimination. He also conducts internal investigations for private employers, police departments, municipalities, and schools.
An advocate of LGBTQ+ (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer) rights, Michael founded BHPK Law’s LGBTQ+ Rights practice, specializing in handling anti-discrimination, harassment, retaliation, and sexual assault/abuse claims on behalf of aggrieved LGBTQ+ individuals. He is particularly sensitive to and aware of the issues presently facing members of the LGBTQ+ community in the workplace, schools, and in public accommodation, and is well versed in handling claims based on sexual orientation, sexuality, gender identity, and gender expression. To this end, Michael has been a well-received panelist on employment law issues facing LGBTQ+ and non-binary workers, and has also been published multiple times in national and respectable legal journals in the area of LGBTQ+ law. In 2022, Michael was awarded the prestigious honor of being named one of the Best LGBTQ+ Attorneys in the United States by the National LGBTQ+ Bar Association.
Michael not only represents victims of harassment and discrimination in the LGBTQ+ community, he also advocates on behalf of other survivors of unlawful discrimination in the workplace and in public accommodation, delivering remarkable results. To date, Michael has successfully represented a number of victims of workplace and public accommodation discrimination, harassment, retaliation, and sexual assault/abuse, and has a wealth of experience handling cases on behalf of both employers and employees arising out of discrimination based on sex, gender, race, color, religion, national origin, sexual orientation, and gender identity, in addition to hostile work environment and retaliation claims. Michael is also a highly knowledgeable wage and hour litigator, and handles complex employment litigation claims alleging wrongful termination, whistleblower, and breach of contract. Impressively, Michael has handled intricate litigation on behalf of, and against, major corporations and employers. He has filed and defended against class actions, and has negotiated settlements arising out of class action litigation on behalf of both his plaintiff and defense clients. In addition to his litigation skills, Michael acts as an investigator for employers into instances of alleged discrimination or harassment.
Notably, Michael is one of the leading attorneys in the Commonwealth with regard to its anti-sexual harassment statute in the education context. Chapter 214, Section 1C protects students from harassment and sexual assault in schools and Michael has been published twice in highly respectable legal journals regarding teacher-on-student sexual harassment in education and with regard to school bullying, including Bad Teacher: The Developing Legal Standard in Massachusetts for Teacher-on-Student Harassment. He is equipped to handle sexual abuse and sexual harassment claims in both the education and employment spheres on behalf of either party.
Finally, Michael zealously represents municipalities in claims brought pursuant to the Massachusetts Tort Claims Act, the Massachusetts and United States Civil Rights Acts, and the Massachusetts and United States Anti-Discrimination Statutes. Many of his successes as a litigator and trial lawyer in this area, and others, have received high-profile media coverage. Michael’s work as a trial attorney includes both favorable plaintiff and defense verdicts.
Not only a litigator, Michael is also a recognized legal scholar and has been published in the Northeastern University Law Review, the Sports Lawyers Journal, the Tulane Journal of Law & Sexuality, various American Bar Association and Federal Bar Association publications, and is a long-standing contributing author to Massachusetts Continuing Legal Education (“MCLE”). He has also been recognized by Massachusetts Lawyers Weekly, the National Law Journal, and Super Lawyers for being a top attorney in the Commonwealth and New England. Michael was also selected to the prestigious American Bar Association Section of Litigation's Diverse Leaders Academy, where he served a two-year term (2020-2022) alongside five other members of the bar from around the country, working to expand diversity among national leadership. Additionally, after a national write-on competition, Michael was selected to serve as an Editor to Litigation News, the ABA Section of Litigation's quarterly legal publication. In 2022, Michael was selected as one of only 33 attorneys in the Commonwealth to the Massachusetts Bar Association's Leadership Academy. That same year, he also served as the co-chair of the LGBT Law & Litigators Committee of the ABA’s Section of Litigation. Finally, Michael was distinguished as one of the Best LGBTQ+ Attorneys Under 40 in the nation by the National LGBTQ+ Bar Association. In 2023, he was named by Boston Magazine as one of the City's top attorneys and by Best Lawyers® to the Best Lawyers in America® list for the 2024 Ones to Watch edition.
Prior to joining BHPK, Michael worked as a law clerk for GLAD (“Gay & Lesbian Advocates & Defenders”, now known as “GLBTQ Legal Advocates & Defenders”), where he assisted in analyzing various legal issues facing the gay, lesbian, and transgender communities, including participation in GLAD’s successful and nationally recognized challenge to the Defense of Marriage Act. He also spent three months clerking for the United States Attorney’s Office for the District of Massachusetts.
While in law school, Michael served as the Managing Editor of the Northeastern University Law Review and was a teaching assistant for the Legal Research and Writing Program. At BHPK, Michael manages the firm's student internship program. In his spare time, he is a longtime member of the Boston-based 501(c)(3) non-profit organization, FLAG (Friends, Lesbians, and Gays) Flag Football, and presently serves on its Board of Directors. He also serves on the Board of Directors of the Boston Gay Basketball League (“BGBL”), another non-profit seeking to advance inclusion of the LGBTQ+ community in athletics.
Areas of Practice
- Business Disputes
- Child Abuse and Sexual Assault
- Education Law
- Employment Law
- Insurance Defense
- Investigations and Trainings
- LGBTQ+ Rights
- Law Enforcement
- Municipal Law and Government
- Personal Injury
- Sexual Harassment and Discrimination
- Northeastern University School of Law, With Distinction, J.D. (2012); Managing Editor, Northeastern University Law Review (2011-2012)
- Boston College
- Phillips Exeter Academy
- United States Supreme Court (2018)
- First Circuit Court of Appeals (2013)
- United States District Court for the District of Massachusetts (2013)
- Commonwealth of Massachusetts (2012)
Memberships and Affiliations
- American Bar Association
- Federal Bar Association
- Massachusetts Bar Association
- Massachusetts LGBTQ Bar Association
- Massachusetts Municipal Lawyers Association
- National LGBT Bar Association