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Title IX, Due Process & Campus Discipline

We represent and counsel students and faculty members throughout the country who are facing a lack of fairness during a campus investigation and disciplinary proceeding arising from alleged Title IX or conduct code violations in higher education. Led by Patricia Hamill as Chair and Lorie Dakessian as Vice-Chair, our team has represented more than 200 students and faculty members nationwide in disciplinary matters or related litigation involving more than 100 colleges and universities. When students or faculty members are reeling from an accusation or have been subjected to an unfair disciplinary proceeding, they and their families turn to Conrad O’Brien to guide them through the process and craft a personalized plan to position them for favorable outcomes, including bringing litigation on their behalf when necessary.


Our team of attorneys act swiftly in representing our clients in investigations, disciplinary hearings, appeals, or, when resolution cannot be reached, filing lawsuits against public or private universities for lack of due process, Title IX or other civil rights violations, breach of contract, or tort liability. We are familiar with issues facing students and faculty members in today’s world, including cases regarding alleged violations of COVID-19 protocols. Our attorneys are tenacious and driven and will put our all into devising and implementing a strategy designed for a favorable outcome while offering empathy and responsive service every step of the way. We take a holistic approach to each client and the specific situation, often working together to minimize the impact of their current case on their future paths and aspirations and mindful of the various ways these proceedings can disrupt day-to-day life and future prospects.


Conrad O’Brien attorneys are actively engaged with Title IX issues beyond our client representations and work with other attorneys and legislators to effect change. We are often sought out by individuals, educational and professional associations, and members of government for our opinions on how to work within the framework of the federal laws and guidance. Given our expertise, Patricia Hamill was invited to testify before the U.S. Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor & Pensions (HELP) at the full committee hearing on “Reauthorizing HEA: Addressing Campus Sexual Assault and Ensuring Student Safety and Rights” (April 2019). She testified before the Committee on what a fair process in a campus disciplinary proceeding involving alleged sexual assault should include. In her testimony, Patricia emphasized that it is a fundamental principle of American jurisprudence that all persons are entitled to a fair hearing.


"The support from this team helped us navigate a nightmare situation. I wouldn't wish this on anyone, but if it happens, you want a solid team helping you navigate the rocks and the waves. You don't have to flail in the storm alone."

Campus Discipline Client

"They are state of the art litigators in the Title IX area."

Chambers USA 2020

"Patricia and [her colleague] were a competent team and gave us clear communications throughout this process. They also partnered with our criminal attorney which reduced our anxiety and time spent on this traumatic series of events."

Title IX Client

Disciplinary Hearing Advice and Representation

Conrad O’Brien represents college students and faculty members nationwide who are subjected to campus investigations and disciplinary proceedings. We ensure that each client understands the university’s process, seeks procedural safeguards, and is afforded a fair hearing. Our attorneys also have successfully avoided litigation by negotiating with university counsel to resolve and settle cases, including having student disciplinary findings and sanctions vacated or modified.


Our student clients may be subject to interim measures that limit their access to activities and campus or their dorms, removed from sports teams, or have their education interrupted by a suspension or expulsion. We work closely with students and their families to help them navigate and fully prepare for the challenges of a university’s policies and procedures governing investigations and disciplinary proceedings. Our team also is experienced in guiding students through the evolving and complicated world of informal resolutions. Our team also skillfully works with students whose situations may be complicated by mental health concerns or the need for disability accommodations.


Our faculty member clients may be placed on administrative leave (unpaid or paid), facing speculation about their absence from work, confronting First Amendment and academic freedom issues, concerns with tenure, and concerns with efforts at re-employment by another educational institution. We are adept at developing and implementing a strategy to navigate what are often intricate university policies and procedures to best position our clients for a favorable outcome.

Title IX and Code of Conduct Litigation

Conrad O’Brien will file lawsuits against both public and private universities when pre-litigation resolution cannot be achieved. We have achieved favorable results in several high-profile lawsuits in which we sued colleges and universities for failing to ensure the accused student’s fundamental due process rights, violated Title IX by discriminating against them on the basis of sex, and breached the school’s contractual obligations with respect to its handling of misconduct allegations. We have litigated cases nationwide and our current litigation includes cases against Loyola University Chicago and Washington and Lee University.


Notable Cases


  • Represented a male student who was disciplined on sexual misconduct charges, and brought litigation in federal court against Brandeis University. The court’s comprehensive decision denying the University’s motion to dismiss vindicated our client when the court found “that Brandeis denied [the student] the ‘basic fairness’ to which he was entitled,” and also opined “Whether someone is a ‘victim’ is a conclusion to be reached at the end of a fair process, not an assumption to be made at the beginning.” The ruling (Doe v. Brandeis University, 177 F. Supp. 3d 561, 573 (D. Mass. 2016) has been cited in virtually every lawsuit subsequently filed by an accused student and hailed by many as one of the most far-reaching decisions supporting student rights and for its advocacy of common sense and fairness in the handling of campus disciplinary matters. (See, for example: “Denying Due Process” (chapter 4) in The Campus Rape Frenzy: The Attack on Due Process at America’s Universities, Stuart Taylor Jr. and KC Johnson, and “The Campus Sex-Crime Tribunals are Losing,” The Commentary Magazine, September 8, 2017, KC Johnson.) The case was also cited by the Department of Education in its September 2017 Guidance withdrawing the 2011 Dear Colleague Letter and the 2014 Questions and Answers on Title IX and Sexual Violence.

  • Conrad O’Brien achieved a favorable settlement for a student who was expelled shortly before the end of his senior year. His college concluded our client had participated in livestreaming a consensual sexual encounter between two other students, though even the alleged female victim told the college he was not involved. The Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights found the college in violation of Title IX, concluding it had not provided our client (or other accused male students) with essential procedural protections and had not followed the safeguards provided for in its own disciplinary policies and procedures. Faced with a potential federal lawsuit, the college agreed to make a substantial monetary payment, vacate the finding of responsibility and sanctions against our client, and give him a clean record

  • Represented a male, African-American student at the University of Pennsylvania who was wrongly accused of sexual assault and subjected to an unfair, biased, and discriminatory disciplinary process. Filed a temporary restraining order and preliminary injunction against the University of Pennsylvania in federal court in the Eastern District of Pennsylvania asserting claims under Title IX and Title VI, as well as common law claims for breach of contract and negligent infliction of emotional distress. The court denied in part the University’s motion to dismiss, allowing our client to proceed on claims for breach of contract and Title IX violations. Doe v. Trustees of the University of Pennsylvania, No. 2:16-cv-05088, 2017 WL 4049033 (E.D. Pa. Sept. 13, 2017).
  • Represented a male student against a public university alleging denial of the student’s due process rights, in large part because the university delayed close to a year in initiating a disciplinary hearing to address a misconduct claim against the student, a delay that resulted in the departure from campus of key witnesses. The student had completed his coursework and earned his degree, yet the university withheld his degree as it had not completed its disciplinary process. Conrad O’Brien attorneys argued that the delay violated his constitutional rights to due process and equal protection. The case settled after argument on Doe’s motion for preliminary injunction and the University’s motion to dismiss.
  • Represented a male student in litigation against a college challenging the result of a sexual misconduct disciplinary finding. Following the court’s finding that the college’s disciplinary process was flawed, the court reversed the college’s decision against our client. We then successfully moved the court to rule that the college could not retry our client in a new proceeding based on the amount of time that had passed since the original decision and the fact that witnesses had graduated and were no longer available. The court entered an order precluding the college from bringing any further disciplinary actions against our client and further ordered the college to completely expunge his record. 
  • Represented a male student in litigation against a private university near Chicago, challenging the result of the sexual misconduct disciplinary finding that resulted in the student’s extended exclusion from the university and which required reapplication without a guarantee of re-admission and with a permanent disciplinary notation on his record. The lawsuit was filed in federal district court and asserted violations of Title IX and breach of contract. The case settled within five months of filing the complaint.

  • Represented a male student in litigation challenging Rider University’s Title IX proceeding finding our client responsible for sexual assault. The lawsuit was filed in federal district court and asserted violations of Title IX and breach of contract based on allegations that the University investigation and adjudication was flawed and biased against male respondents. We successfully overcame two motions to dismiss, where the Court ruled that our client brought a valid breach of contract claim and a valid Title IX claim. The case resolved via settlement.   
  • Conrad O’Brien attorneys were successful in obtaining a ruling in California state court ordering the University of Southern California to set aside the suspension and expulsion of our client, a male student, for alleged nonconsensual sexual activity with two female students who claimed to have been too intoxicated to give consent. The California Superior Court issued a decision finding that USC failed to provide a fair hearing to our client and that the decisions to suspend and expel him were not supported by the evidence. The court reasoned that USC denied John his due process rights to a fair proceeding under California state law because (among other shortcomings) it did not provide him with “an adequate opportunity … to test the credibility of the material witnesses in a limited adversarial hearing before the decision is made” (see Statement of Decision Granting Petition for Writ of Mandate). Doe v. Ainsley Carry and University of Southern California, Case No. BS 161569 (Los Angeles County Superior Ct., Sept. 15, 2017 unpublished decision).
  • Conrad O’Brien brought action against Swarthmore College on behalf of a student expelled in the wake of a disciplinary proceeding following allegations of sexual misconduct. Brought litigation in federal district court, asserting claims under Title IX as well as common law claims, including breach of contract. Swarthmore vacated its college judiciary panel's findings and sanction after additional information became available that both parties believed raised questions about the impartiality of the panel that heard our client’s case and the fairness of the hearing process and the matter settled (Doe v. Swarthmore College, No. 2:14-cv-000532 (E.D. Pa.).