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Steve McDonald


Data Privacy

Steven J. McDonald served as general counsel of Rhode Island School of Design (RISD) from 2002 to 2021. In that role, he was the college’s primary legal counsel and managed its legal affairs, providing legal services to trustees, administrators, faculty, staff, student leaders, and affiliated entities in connection with their activities on behalf of the institution.

For the decade before he came to RISD, Steve served as associate legal counsel at The Ohio State University. He began his legal career at Jones, Day, Reavis & Pogue, where among other things he successfully represented CompuServe in Cubby v. CompuServe, the first online libel case. He also taught at Ohio State’s College of Law and at Capital University Law School.

An active participant in the higher education legal community, Steve is a past member of the Board of Directors of the National Association of College and University Attorneys (NACUA), the editor of the NACUA publication The Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act: A Legal Compendium, an instructor of its Fundamentals of FERPA online course, one of the developers of its NACUANOTES legal information service, and a regular leader or member of its committees, as well as a recipient of its Fellow, Distinguished Service, and Life Member awards

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  • Steve's LinkedIn Profile

Steve also presents and writes frequently on FERPA and other issues of higher education law, both for NACUA and other higher education associations, conferences, and publications, including the Chronicle of Higher Education and Inside Higher Education. He served on the legal advisory boards for the Code of Best Practices in Fair Use for Academic and Research Libraries, the Code of Best Practices in Fair Use for the Visual Arts, and the Code of Best Practices in Fair Use for Open Educational Resources.

Steve received his A.B. in political science from Duke University and his J.D. from the Yale Law School. In State, ex rel. Thomas v. The Ohio State University, the Ohio Supreme Court ruled that he really is a lawyer.

  • Professional Background:
    Tianjin Yonghan Law Firm -Attorney, Corporate Operations MWE China Law Offices -Intern Spanish Cuatrecasas LLP, Shanghai Representative Office -Intern Fiat Chrysler Automobiles Group -Intern
  • Education
    East China University of Science and Technology (ECUST) -L.L.B. Law East China University of Politics and Law (ECUPL) -L.L.M. Economic Law
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