Conrad O’Brien’s lawyers who represent students accused of misconduct in Title IX disciplinary matters understandably devote much of their attention to the details of the proceeding itself. Those legal issues include always advocating for their clients’ rights in the disciplinary process, ensuring the transparency of the school’s investigation and impartiality of the ultimate decisionmakers, obtaining sufficient notice of charges, and preparing for hearings.
But underlying all of these battles and high-stakes legal work is a student whose life has been turned upside down.
We approach each Title IX disciplinary matter not merely as a dispute. Instead, we zealously defend our clients while always being mindful of the various ways these proceedings can disrupt a student's day-to-day life and his or her future prospects. Even if we ultimately achieve a positive result, the fallout from these sensitive matters must be anticipated and then thoughtfully managed and resolved.
“We think it’s important to see our Title IX clients as a whole and not just as a set of discrete legal issues that must be analyzed and resolved. To do our job correctly, we must take into account the student’s future education and career aspirations and opportunities. That holistic approach sets us apart from other firms.” Patricia Hamill, Title IX Practice Leader.
With a track record of representing more than 100 students nationwide in disciplinary matters conducted by more than 70 colleges and universities, Conrad O’Brien has unique insights on the challenges faced by students who find themselves embroiled in a Title IX disciplinary matter. Although the exact mix of additional supports our clients require varies from case-to-case, we can provide advice and counseling (or referrals to third party professionals and consultants) in connection with many issues ancillary to the Title IX proceeding itself.
Title IX proceedings sometimes involve the imposition of “interim measures” on the accused student. Those measures can include requirements to avoid contact with the complainant and others, changes to on-campus housing or class assignments, restrictions on campus activities, and prohibited forms of communication, including social media limitations.
Our attorneys can assist in the negotiation of these arrangements to preserve the student’s quality of life on campus. Based on our experience dealing with more than 70 colleges, we are uniquely positioned to provide knowledgeable advice about proposed conduct rules.
If a college’s final decision requires a student’s suspension or expulsion, or if the student voluntarily decides that continued attendance is impossible, Conrad O’Brien can provide guidance on the scope and content of the student’s disclosure statement in any applications to prospective transfer schools regarding the details about the disciplinary proceeding at the prior school and its final decision or sanction.
When a student has been suspended with the right to reapply for readmission or reinstatement, the student is often required to demonstrate compliance with conditions of separation imposed as part of the suspension. These can include completing a certain schedule of counseling or education sessions, substance abuse evaluation or treatment, or other similar conditions that focus on the student’s rehabilitation. Conrad O’Brien works to ensure that there are no unnecessary barriers to readmission and will work with students to make their reapplication materials both accurate and effective so that the transition back to school proceeds as smoothly and successfully as possible.
Clients who move onto graduate or professional schools, or into the work world, often seek our advice about the circumstances under which they need to disclose their past disciplinary record and exactly what must be reported. We can assist in helping the student craft complete and accurate statements about their past campus discipline issues and the sanctions imposed. For our clients who eventually seek professional credentials in fields like medicine, law and accounting, we can also provide advice about the scope of required disclosures to state professional certification boards about their prior discipline matters.
Our clients whose educations are disrupted or suspended for interim or long-term periods often need professional advice about how to transfer to another school, preserve academic credits, and repair (and explain) problems on their transcript, such as incomplete courses or withdrawals from classes.
Conrad O’Brien can often refer clients to college counselors, academic advisors, or other professionals who can best position them for their continued educational pursuits.
Our Title IX clients sometimes have pre-existing mental health challenges or substance abuse problems that may have contributed to the incidents that are the subject of the disciplinary proceeding. We also frequently see students who suffer from depression and anxiety because of their situation as a respondent in a formal proceeding.
Based on our experience in scores of disciplinary proceeding involving a student in some form of treatment, Conrad O’Brien is equipped to work closely and in coordination with doctors, counselors and treatment programs/facilities.