August 2021 —
The MLO Minute: By Joseph McGettigan, Esq., Nancy Potter, Esq., and Dennis McAndrews, Esq., leading attorneys in our firm’s University Discipline and Title IX Practice Group —
Over the past year, an array of major new issues and procedures concerning university discipline matters have arisen. The pandemic, together with new Title IX regulations and increased awareness to important questions regarding interpersonal physical relationships (especially of a sexual nature), have altered the legal landscape concerning procedures and practices in university settings. Within our firm, we have a wealth of experience and knowledge in handling these matters in a variety of contexts. Our attorneys have represented individuals in every aspect of this process, whether they have made accusations of misconduct or are the subject of those accusations. We have also represented universities and understand the importance to organizations of proper procedures and adherence to established legal mandates. Nancy E. Potter and Joseph E. McGettigan III lead the work of our experienced firm in these complex matters.
Over the past decade, Title IX has been the subject of many often–conflicting policy statements and regulations on the federal level. Although several regulatory changes were required of universities (and even elementary and secondary school programs) as of August 2020, many educational institutions have been slow to implement these new mandates. One notable requirement is that universities must provide well-trained advisers for students or faculty who are involved in Title IX proceedings for the purposes of cross-examining witnesses and providing competent assistance throughout the adjudicative process. This right to representation by an individual trained in the procedures and legal underpinnings of Title IX must be provided to both the complainant and the respondent. Moreover, in a particularly significant development, as of August 2020, sexual misconduct cases may also be the subject of mediation proceedings or informal resolutions which were prohibited under prior federal policies. Interestingly, since some Title IX cases involve individuals with a prior dating relationship, these mediation proceedings are not infrequently accepted by the parties, and skilled advisers are particularly important for resolution of such cases where the parties agree to an informal resolution.
Because universities now are so clearly required to provide skilled, trained advisers to students in these important matters, a growing number of universities are now hiring outside attorneys to represent students. This practice not only complies with Title IX, it also serves to assist universities in avoiding potential Title IX litigation for a failure to comply with this important requirement. Our firm has been invited at the university level to provide such assistance and we are looking forward to offering the skilled representation which the parties deserve and that is so important to all participants in these processes. We also continue to offer representation to individuals who contact us directly.
Even as the legal landscape under Title IX ebbs and flows under different federal administrations, many institutions are creating their own definitions of “sexual misconduct” which can extend well beyond then–extant Title IX requirements, and create even more compelling needs for competent and professional representation of the parties involved. Many students find themselves outside the Title IX framework, yet still facing student discipline or conduct charges. We provide legal counsel and guidance through these murky processes, preparing students for interviews, hearings and mitigating the potential damage to one’s academic career.
The biographies of Nancy E. Potter and Joseph E. McGettigan III are linked here. As these biographies reflect, these two attorneys have the extraordinary and unique experience necessary to provide a superior level of professional representation in the Title IX process, whether through privately retained representation of the party involved, or pursuant to a request from a university to provide representation to a participant. If we can be of assistance, call us today at 610-648-9300 or Click here to Contact Us.