Sept. 11 and BP Oil Spill Fund-Master Kenneth R. Feinberg to Receive Thomas Jefferson Foundation Medal in Law

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Kenneth R. Feinberg will give a talk at the Law School on Friday, April 11 in Caplin Pavilion at 10 a.m.

March 12, 2014

Kenneth R. Feinberg, an attorney who administered compensation funds for victims of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, the BP oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico, the 2007 shootings at Virginia Tech and the Boston marathon bombings, will receive this year's Thomas Jefferson Foundation Medal in Law.

Feinberg, one of the nation's leading experts in mediation and alternative dispute resolution, will receive the award as part of UVA's annual Founder's Day activities in April.

"Kenneth Feinberg's career is a testament to the fact that a great lawyer can bring a sense of justice and fairness to even the most emotionally charged disputes," said UVA Law School Dean Paul G. Mahoney.

Sponsored jointly by UVA and the Thomas Jefferson Foundation, the nonprofit organization that owns and operates Monticello, the Thomas Jefferson Foundation Medals are awarded each year to recognize the achievements of those who embrace endeavors in which Jefferson, author of the Declaration of Independence and the third U.S. president, excelled and held in high regard, including law, architecture and leadership.

Feinberg is best known for serving as the special master of the federal Sept. 11 Victim Compensation Fund of 2001. In that role, Feinberg reached out to everyone who was qualified to file a claim, evaluated applications, determined appropriate compensation and disseminated awards. In 2005, he authored a book about the experience: "What is Life Worth?: The Unprecedented Effort to Compensate the Victims of 9/11."

Following the April 16, 2007, shootings at Virginia Tech, he was appointed fund administrator for the Hokie Spirit Memorial Fund, which distributed roughly $8 million to those most profoundly affected by the tragedy.

In 2009, Feinberg was appointed by Secretary of the Treasury Timothy Geithner to oversee compensation of executives at companies that received federal bailout funds in the wake of the financial meltdown.

Following the 2010 Deepwater Horizon oil spill in the Gulf, Feinberg was tapped by President Obama and BP to administer a $20 billion fund to pay claims to victims of the disaster.

And last year, he was appointed by Boston Mayor Thomas Menino and Massachusetts Governor Deval Patrick to administer the One Fund, which collected donations to help the families most affected by last year's Boston Marathon bombings that killed three and injured 264.

He also advised the Newtown-Sandy Hook Community Foundation, which distributed $7.7 million to victims of the December 2012 elementary school shooting in Connecticut.

Feinberg previously served as a court-appointed special master in high-profile cases involving Agent Orange, asbestos and harmful pharmaceuticals. Additionally, Feinberg helped determine the fair market value of the original Zapruder film of the Kennedy assassination, as well as legal fees in Holocaust slave labor litigation.

In 2010, Feinberg recounted his experiences in his second book, "Who Gets What: Fair Compensation After Tragedy and Financial Upheaval."

Feinberg earned his undergraduate degree from the University of Massachusetts in 1967 and his law degree from New York University School of Law in 1970. Following law school, he served as law clerk to Chief Judge Stanley H. Fuld of the New York State Court of Appeals.

He founded the law firm Feinberg Rozen in 1992. He has repeatedly been named one of the 100 most influential lawyers in the country by the National Law Journal, and was named the magazine's lawyer of the year in 2004.

Feinberg has been appointed to serve on two presidential-level commissions, was chairman of the board of the RAND Institute of Civil Justice and president of the Washington National Opera, and is a vice chairman of the board of Human Rights First and a board member of the Bazelon Center for Mental Health Law.

He has also taught as an adjunct professor of law at Harvard, the University of Virginia, Georgetown University, the University of Pennsylvania, Columbia University and New York University.

Feinberg will give a talk at the Law School on Friday, April 11 in Caplin Pavilion at 10 a.m.

The Thomas Jefferson Foundation Medals are conferred during the University's Founder's Day celebrations, held around Jefferson's April 13 birthday. In addition to receiving a medal struck for the occasion, recipients attend ceremonies in the Rotunda and a dinner at Monticello. The awards are UVA's highest external honors.

This year's recipient of the Thomas Jefferson Foundation Medal in Architecture is Toyo Ito, a Tokyo-based architect who combines conceptual innovation with superbly executed buildings, as in his masterpiece, the Sendai, Japan Mediatheque, which reimagines what a public museum and library should be in the digital age.

Jim Webb, a former U.S. Senator (D-Va.) and Secretary of the Navy, decorated Vietnam veteran and successful author, journalist and filmmaker, will receive this year's Thomas Jefferson Foundation Medal in Citizen Leadership.


Founded in 1819, the University of Virginia School of Law is the second-oldest continuously operating law school in the nation. Consistently ranked among the top law schools, Virginia is a world-renowned training ground for distinguished lawyers and public servants, instilling in them a commitment to leadership, integrity and community service.

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