School Violence and College Death Lawyer

This website and law practice are dedicated to legal issues concerning school violence, wrongful death, and related matters.  Within the U.S., and worldwide, equal access to education enables people to achieve their potential.   We represent people and families who have had this opportunity, and their lives, destroyed by violence, intentional and negligent misconduct, threats, and other forms of wrongdoing.  More than 20 years ago, we were the first private practice to specialize in this advocacy nationwide on behalf of victims.  As private victims advocates, we have always believed that “giving back” is essential.  Thus, we have obtained – without fee – hundreds of thousands of dollars for non-profit organizations committed to protecting students and families from violence and misconduct in schools.

That you have found this website indicates that you are, or someone you love is, likely experiencing a traumatic event.  We express sincere condolences, from the entire staff.

Our practice is truly unique in that it remains the only nationwide legal team focusing on school violence issues for victims.  We established the specialty, going so far as to create the first (and only) national practice group in this area of law within the American Association for Justice.  We obtain special permission to practice in any state where tragedy happens, locating and associating ourselves with qualified local trial counsel (two of whom have since become judges) to form an effective team with national expertise and local experience.  We represent victims in lawsuits involving school death and injury, hazing, college and fraternity rape and sexual assault, student-child sexual abuse and pornography, and serious personal injury.  It is not just about money, though we have successfully obtained (and collected) tens of millions of dollars in verdicts and settlements for our clients, results and experience which we believe no other firm comes even close to matching.  Parents and victims justly demand that comprehensive changes be imposed upon the institutions that caused or failed to prevent their trauma.

We have sought and obtained enforceable concessions from defendants designed to make institutions (universities and school groups) better managed and safer, allowing personal legacies to endure.  For example, we have caused universities to expel rapists, implement academic accommodations and stay-away orders, revise victims’  grades and transcripts, waive tuition, comply with Title IX, state law, and university regulations, disclose risk information to the public, and, generally, act responsibly towards victims of great tragedies. We have compelled fraternities and universities to disclose histories of misconduct that have resulted in injuries and death.  We have created new legal precedent to aid victims nationwide, and assisted our clients establish foundations (VTV Family Outreach Foundation; Aware Awake Alive) with funds from their civil recoveries and enact state legislation expanding victims’ rights.

We successfully negotiated the historic, complex settlement with the Commonwealth of Virginia and Virginia Tech University on behalf of 20 families/clients who suffered the loss of a loved one or traumatic gunshot injuries as a result of the April 2007 massacre at Virginia Tech.  John McCammon, founder of The McCammon Group and mediator of the settlement, described these accomplishments in the following terms:  “I think that you [former partner Peter Grenier] and Doug have been stellar.  You have served your clients so well and at the same time distinguished yourselves as first class, effective, efficient, practical and collaborative attorneys who know how to deal with the big issues.  While tough on substance, you were smooth on style.  That is a difficult combination to pull off.  My hat is off to both of you.” .

Because many of our clients also need the best legal advocacy concerning criminal proceedings that often arise from these tragedies, our team is establishing an of-counsel relationship with two of the country’s foremost criminal/trial lawyers, William “Billy” Martin and Kerry Verdi, headquartered in D.C., who, like us, are retained by people and businesses nationwide.  Billy and Kerry have unequalled success in navigating the criminal (and civil) process in some of this country’s highest-profile cases.  The Washington Post Magazine recently featured Billy and his work.  We believe that our work together delivers to our clients the strongest legal and courtroom experience available.

We also have unique, close relationships with the country’s leading nonprofit advocacy groups, with whom we regularly confer, and, at times, “partner” with on cases to increase a client’s ability to obtain justice and cause systemic change.  Such groups include: National Crime Victim Law Institute; Clery Center for Security on Campus; Public Justice Foundation; Know Your IX; Harvard Gender Violence Program; National Crime Victim Bar Association; and, National Center for Victims of Crime.

The search for qualified counsel is as difficult as it is important.  You should ask lawyers you interview for specific examples of the number and type of school cases they have handled, including the results obtained.  School, college and fraternity death and injury cases are often fundamentally different from claims involving medical malpractice, automobile accidents, slip and falls, and the other types of tort claims trial lawyers most often handle.  Ask them about their experience and ability to assist you in passage of victims’ rights legislation, should you have that concern.  We welcome the opportunity to be of assistance.  If we cannot assist you directly, we are happy to provide you with referrals to other lawyers around the country qualified to represent you on such matters.  All communications with our school violence team are confidential.

Our clients have traveled paths that may be similar to the one you are presently on.  They have valuable insights they are willing to share (including, of course, regarding our work).  Many clients have become strong advocates, as a matter of necessity.  Please feel free to inquire about this, and, where appropriate, we will gladly connect you to them, as they too are committed to offering their help and unique insight.


Talk to Us: Face-to-Face

We will interact with you in whatever manner best suits your needs.  Our technology enables us to communicate with you face-to-face via videoconference by sending a  Skype or WebEx request to “DCLawFirm.”  We will also travel to meet with you in your home.  Of course, we are also available by phone, email, and through the form provided for your convenience on the CONTACT page.  Our goal is to resolve your inquiry within 24 hours of your contact, 7 days a week.

Douglas E. Fierberg, Esq.
Bode & Fierberg, L.L.P.
1150 Connecticut Avenue, N.W., Ninth Floor
Washington, DC 20036
Phone: 202.828.4100 or 877.WASH.DC.1
Fax: 202.828.4130