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Phil Altfeld was born and raised in Baltimore, Maryland. He attended public schools in that city, received his Bachelor of Arts degree from Franklin and Marshall College in Lancaster, Pa and his Doctor of Jurisprudence from the University of Maryland Law School. He practiced law in Baltimore City. He was an Assistant City Solicitor of Baltimore and the Securities Commissioner of Maryland. He was campaign manager for Francis (Bill) Burch in his three successful campaigns for Attorney General of Maryland as well as his campaign for Governor of Maryland.
With General Burch, he co-managed Vice President Hubert H. Humphrey's campaign in West Virginia when he ran for President of the United States in 1968.
In 1970, he began developing commercial real estate in downtown Washington, DC and Georgetown. He retired from business and law in 1979 and moved to Aspen, Colorado with his wife, Mariann. They have two children, Bess and David