If you are a faculty member, administrator or employee at a college or university facing a Title IX complaint or other disciplinary matter, you likely (and rightly) have significant concern for your employment and reputation. Oftentimes, a matter that would be confidential in any other setting becomes public because you may be placed on administrative leave. We have successfully represented and skillfully negotiated on behalf of faculty (tenured and untenured), administrators, and university employees (unionized and not) at public and private universities or medical schools across the nation in disciplinary matters involving Title IX claims, claims of racial or religious discrimination, and/or alleged violations of professional codes. Oftentimes these matters may raise academic freedom and First Amendment issues.
There is no one-size-fits-all representation; each matter requires an analysis of the relevant code(s), campus climate, and employment contracts. We understand how these types of allegations may impact your continued employment, tenure, paid leave, or collective bargaining rights. In the realm of research faculty positions, it may not only be your employment in jeopardy but also retaining government grants. We develop a strategy designed to lead to a positive result in disciplinary matters, mitigate any damage to reputation, and continue on with your professional goals.
Faculty members, administrators, and employees can face serious consequences — including a jeopardized career, tenure, or employment — in the wake of Title IX accusations. Here’s why our clients turn to us.
Lorie Dakessian was wonderful to work with. She guided us with kindness and clarity throughout the process. We always felt that we were being given solid information and advice… [She] was compassionate when emotions arose, while also keeping us focused on the process at hand.
Faculty Member Client
Patricia Hamill was amazing. She was empathic, insightful, responsive and very easy to work with. She went above and beyond in helping me to navigate the situation and helped me to achieve a positive result. I can't thank her enough.
Faculty Member Client
Lorie, you have been awesome during a very difficult time in my life. Thank you so much for your kindness and outstanding legal service.
Faculty Member Client
What sets Conrad O’Brien apart?
We are nationally recognized and have represented faculty and administrators at public and private colleges and universities throughout the United States in disciplinary matters, in litigation, and in providing strategic advice. We are sophisticated lawyers who have litigated cases around the country and backed by a firm of commercial litigators. Collectively we have practiced across the country at the highest levels of our profession, both Title IX and campus discipline law as well as complex commercial litigation.
We understand that your professional livelihood and reputation are on the line whenever you face an accusation of any sort of misconduct or discrimination. Though there is no one-size-fits-all approach, our strategy is focused on bringing the matter to the quickest possible resolution without sacrificing the time and effort necessary to defend against allegations and, if you have been removed from your classroom or your lab, to get you back to your work as soon as possible. Our lawyers have expertise in employment matters, contract and tenure rights, and issues of academic freedom, which many times are at-issue in any disciplinary matter.
Why should you hire an attorney?
When faculty or administrators come to us after having attempted to navigate the disciplinary system on their own, we have too often seen that they have been denied important procedural rights, have not been treated fairly, or have gotten adverse results not justified by the record. Because any accusation against you could mean the end of employment, seeking legal advice and guidance early on will usually be the best way to protect your future.
Should I hire a Title IX attorney early in the process?
Yes. If we are retained early in the disciplinary process, we are able to work with you to develop a plan and maximize the chances of a “not responsible” finding, whether at the close of an investigatory process or after a hearing. If we are retained later in the process, we are more limited in the options we have available to help you. However, if you have already been found responsible at a preliminary stage or after a hearing, depending on the relevant procedures, we may be able to prepare written submissions for reconsideration or for appeal. We can also negotiate with university counsel to modify an outcome or mitigate proposed sanctions.
Do I need an employment attorney?
Most university matters involving an allegation of misconduct or discrimination could potentially affect your contract or employment rights, tenure or right to future tenure, government grants, or your rights under faculty or employment code. Ideally, any attorney who would help advocate for you in a disciplinary process, would have experience in all of these areas and not just in employment law. Our attorneys have a variety of relevant experience and knowledge in matters that impact Title IX and campus discipline cases, backed by years of experience practicing in a wide variety of jurisdictions.
What can I do to protect my reputation?
When you are accused of misconduct or discrimination, your reputation is at risk even if you are ultimately cleared. As part of our holistic approach, we work closely with crisis communications and reputation management consultants to ensure that both your legal issues and reputation are being considered. These individuals have a depth of experience in areas such as crisis preparedness and response, message development, reputation and position, and risk mitigation. We work closely with crisis communications and reputation management consultants to ensure that both your legal matter and reputation are both being considered.