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Stephen J. Vaughan

Stephen Vaughan advises colleges and universities nationwide on a variety of legal and compliance issues that are specific to higher education institutions, including Title IX, the Clery Act, the Violence Against Women Reauthorization Act, the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA), student affairs, campus organizations, faculty matters and employment law. Stephen has also worked with higher education associations in responding to state and federal policymaking. 

Stephen has extensive experience conducting compliance audits and investigations, drafting policies and procedures, and advising higher education institutions, including their senior leadership, counsel, Title IX coordinators and teams, investigators, adjudicators, hearing panels, appeal officers, administrators, and others, on all matters pertaining to the sexual misconduct process, along with educational programming and prevention. He frequently assists faith-based institutions in their efforts to maintain compliance while adhering to mission. Additionally, through a division of the firm known as trainED, Stephen regularly provides training mandated by federal and state law and other specialized training to institutions nationwide.

Stephen's higher education experience extends to the courtroom as well, where he defends higher education institutions in Title IX and related lawsuits, particularly those related to the institutions' determinations in misconduct proceedings.

Stephen also counsels clients on a wide range of employment law issues, including terminations, employment and severance agreements, employment-related claims, worker classification, post- termination covenants against competition, breach of contract, breach of fiduciary and other duties, fraud, tortious interference, and trademark infringement. He has successfully argued motions for preliminary injunctive relief and dispositive motions in a variety of contexts, and he has served as first chair and co-chair in federal and state courts trials on behalf of the firm's clients.

In addition, Stephen has significant investigation experience, including conducting internal investigations and defending corporations, individuals, and higher education institutions in investigations conducted by Congress, the Department of Justice, United States attorneys and attorneys general of numerous states, and other state and federal agencies.

Representative Experience

  • Conducted numerous investigations of allegations of sexual misconduct, discrimination, and harassment involving students, employees, faculty, administrators, public safety officers, and vendors at higher education institutions
  • Conducted numerous hazing investigations involving college students and college organizations, including those involving athletic teams, club sports, Greek life, performing arts groups, and other community groups
  • Conducted investigations of faculty, administrators, students, employees, and others for violations of handbooks, codes of conduct, and other policies
  • Drafted harassment and sexual misconduct policies, student codes of conduct, and handbooks
  • Advised universities and colleges throughout the investigation and decision-making processes in cases involving allegations of sexual misconduct, discrimination, and harassment
  • Served as decision-maker for sexual harassment, discrimination, and sexual misconduct allegations for institutions of higher education
  • Served as hearing officer in sexual harassment/misconduct hearings
  • Served as interim Title IX Coordinator
  • Conducted individualized, one-on-one trainings for those found responsible for sexual misconduct, discrimination, and harassment
  • Counseled higher education institutions on retaliation, speech rights, academic freedom, and religious freedom
  • Defended and counseled institutions in lawsuits claiming violations of Title IX, negligence, defamation, breach of contract, tortious interference, and due process
  • Represented higher education institution in connection with a two-year investigation conducted by the U.S. Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions (HELP) Committee with no material adverse findings against the institution
  • Represented brokerage firm in arbitration concerning the breach of an independent contractor agreement (dispositive motion granted in client's favor and attorneys' fees awarded)
  • Defended multinational company in a state court trial involving tortious interference and other employment law claims (verdict in client's favor on all counts, upheld on appeal)
  • Represented former director to a Congressional member in Congressional ethics investigation
  • Represented large multinational companies, including franchisors, in federal and state courts nationwide in preliminary injunctions concerning breach of contract, covenants against competition, trade secrets and intellectual property, and business tort

Court Memberships

  • District of Columbia
  • Maryland
  • U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia
  • U.S. District Court for the District of Maryland
  • U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Michigan
  • U.S Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit
  • U.S. Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit 
  • U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit
  • U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit
  • U.S. Supreme Court

Honors

  • The International Who’s Who of Lawyers, 2016-2019
  • “Washington, DC Super Lawyer,” Super Lawyers, 2013-2016

Professional Affiliations

  • American Bar Association
  • Maryland State Bar Association
  • National Association of College and University Attorneys
  • The District of Columbia Bar Association

Presentations

  • Co-Presenter, Title IX Final Rule: Mandating Sweeping Change to Higher Education Campuses, ELA Webinar, May 27, 2020
  • "Title IX/VAWA Investigator and Adjudicator Training," Johns Hopkins University, September 11, 2019
  • "2019 Generation Z's Influence on Campus Discourse: Expectations, Entitlement, and Legal Rights to Freedom of Expression," University of Dayton, July 2019
  • "Freedom or Entitlement: Generation Z and their Impact on Higher Education (a discussion of the legal framework and students' free speech rights on campus)," co-presenter, ACCU Conference, February 2, 2019
  • "Title IX Update: Department of Education's Proposed Regulations," trainED, November 30, 2018
  • "Title IX/VAWA Investigator and Adjudicator Training," co-presenter, trainED, August 8, 2018
  • "Annual Training for Advanced Title IX Coordinators and Deputy Coordinators," co-presenter, trainED, August 7, 2018
  • "Annual Training for New Title IX Coordinators and Deputy Coordinators," co-presenter, trainED, August 6, 2018
  • "Title IX/VAWA Investigator and Adjudicator Training," co-presenter, Hamline University, Minnesota, July 24, 2018
  • "Annual Training for Advanced Title IX Coordinators and Deputy Coordinators," co-presenter, Hamline University, Minnesota, July 23, 2018
  • "Annual Training for Title IX/VAWA Investigator and Adjudicator Training," co-presenter, American University, Washington, C., June 8, 2018
  • "Annual Training for Advanced Title IX Coordinators and Deputy Coordinators," co-presenter, American University, Washington, C., June 7, 2018
  • "Trauma-Informed Sexual Assault Training for Key Personnel," co-presenter, trainED, May 10, 2018
  • "Title IX/VAWA Training for Coaches and Athletic Directors," presenter, University of Minnesota, April 4, 2018
  • "Sexual Misconduct Around the World," presenter, Employment Law Alliance, March 20, 2018
  • "Unique Challenges in Domestic Violence, Dating Violence and Stalking," co-presenter, trainED, March 8, 2018
  • "Complying with NCAA's Policy on Sexual Violence: Training for Coaches, Athletic Directors, & Athletic Administrators, Part 2" co-presenter, trainED February 22, 2018
  • "Complying with NCAA's Policy on Sexual Violence: Training for Coaches, Athletic Directors, & Athletic Administrators, Part 1" co-presenter, trainED February 8, 2018
  • "The Ever-Changing Landscape of Title IX," presenter, ACCU Conference, February 3, 2018
  • "Title IX/VAWA Adjudicator Training," co-presenter, trainED, January 25, 2018
  • "Title IX/VAWA Investigator Training," co-presenter, trainED, January 24, 2018
  • "Drafting An Investigation Report," co-presenter, trainED, September 21, 2017
  • "Title IX/VAWA Investigator and Adjudicator Training," co-presenter, trainED, August 9, 2017
  • "Annual Training for Advanced Title IX Coordinators and Deputy Coordinators," co-presenter, trainED, August 8, 2017
  • "Annual Training for New Title IX Coordinators and Deputy Coordinators," co-presenter, trainED, August 7, 2017
  • "Title IX/VAWA Investigator and Adjudicator Training," co-presenter, trainED, July 25
  • "Annual Training for Advanced Title IX Coordinators and Deputy Coordinators," co-presenter, trainED, July 24, 2017
  • "Title IX/VAWA Investigator and Adjudicator Training," co-presenter, College of St. Scholastica, Duluth, Minnesota, June 8, 2017
  • "Trauma-Informed Sexual Assault Training for Key Personnel," co-presenter, trainED, May 2, 2017
  • "Making Your Sexual Misconduct Policy a 10," co-presenter, trainED, April 26, 2017
  • "Trauma Informed Title IX/VAWA Training for Adjudicators," co-presenter, trainED, April 4, 2017
  • "Title IX/VAWA Training for Investigators," co-presenter, trainED, February 23, 2017
  • "Train the Trainer/Coaching the Coaches: Title IX/VAWA Training for Coaches and Athletic Directors," co-presenter, trainED, February 22, 2017
  • "Title IX/VAWA Training for Chief Academic Officers," co-presenter, trainED, February 15, 2017
  • "Title IX/VAWA Panel Discussion for Coaches and Athletic Directors," co-presenter, trainED, January 31, 2017
  • "Panel Discussion: Title IX Recordkeeping Requirements and Best Practices," co-presenter, trainED, January 10, 2017
  • "Compliance Update: New VAWA Guidance," co-presenter, trainED, September 8, 2016
  • "Annual Title IX Investigator/Adjudicator Training," co-presenter, trainED, July 28, 2016
  • "Advanced Title IX Coordinator Training," co-presenter, trainED, July 27, 2016
  • "Title IX Advanced Coordinator and Deputy Coordinator Annual Training," co-presenter, trainED, June 16, 2016