Fienberg findings — College of Law to showcase lawyer as featured speaker for Sherman J. Bellwood Memorial Lecture
Kenneth R. Fienberg has been one of the key figures in the last 50 years administering compensation systems to victims of tragedies, according to University of Idaho Associate Professor of Law John Rumel.
Rumel said there is no one else in the country with his type of experience.
Feinburg will be the featured speaker at the UI College of Law’s Sherman J. Bellwood Memorial Lecture at 3:30 p.m. Thursday in the Administration Building Auditorium.
“We’ve had great success in bringing in a number of prominent lawyers and judges throughout the years,” Rumel said.
Fienberg has been mentioned in “Profiles of Power” as one of the nation’s top 100 most influential lawyers on multiple occasions. Additionally, in 2004, he was selected as the National Law Journal’s Lawyer of the Year.
For the Bellwood Memorial Lecture, Fienberg will address the topic: “Unconventional Responses to Unique Catastrophes: Tailoring the Law to Meet the Challenges.”
Rumel said Fienberg has been involved in various dispute resolution procedures. He started with resolving claims by military personnel concerning exposure to Agent Orange in Vietnam in the 1960’s and early ‘70s.
He said another one of Fienberg’s major assignments was working with the victims of the 9/11 terrorist attacks, setting up compensation for those who suffered injuries and for the families of those who died.
When there was a shooting at Virginia Tech University, Fienberg was the administrator and mediator of that system as well, Rumel said.
During the global recession in 2009, President Obama appointed Fienberg as the Special Master for the Troubled Asset Relief Program.
Fienberg created a report referencing 17 financial companies that used more than a billion dollars of taxpayer money to provide bonuses for workers as well as compensations and dividends. He also regulated the salaries of executives of automobile companies such as General Motors and banks who received money from the government bailout.
In June 2010, Fienberg was hired by British Petroleum as the independent administrator responsible for a $20 billion fund arranged by BP to compensate the victims of the oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico.
Rumel said Fienberg is an incredibly talented lawyer in terms of his ability to understand the issues and real concepts. It is equally important that he brings a human touch to his application of the law, Rumel said.
“He really is a role model for what we often try to teach our law students — to have a great demand of legal principles. This is a human endeavor that we are involved in,” Rumel said.
He said people don’t have to know about the law to understand how this country can compensate victims, and they don’t need legal training to understand that these are important social, political and economic issues.
“These are issues that are in the news that affect all of us in some way shape or form,” Rumel said.
Temporary Associate Professor of Law Patrick Costello said he’s anxious to hear what Feinburg has to say.
Costello said he expects Feinburg to address his experiences administrating the various compensation funds he has worked with and the advantages and disadvantages in dealing with these approaches to compensating victims of these disasters.
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