Jeff Herman is a trial lawyer who specializes in helping survivors of rape, sexual abuse, and sexual exploitation. For over two decades now, Jeff has represented more than 1,000 victims of all ages, and he prides himself in making a significant difference for children in particular. Today, Herman Law has some of the nation’s leading childhood sexual abuse attorneys who are not afraid to be pioneers in the legal industry and champions of their clients’ rights.
The foundation of Herman Law was laid in 1997 when Jeff was a commercial litigator. A mother, whose autistic 4-year-old son was abused at pre-school, did not know who to turn to for support. To help the mother, Jeff decided to personally look into the matter. He discovered that the child was abused by a convicted pedophile whom the school hired—an incredibly surprising find considering that schools should provide a safe and educational atmosphere for kids. What is even worse, Jeff quickly learned, is that this type of irresponsible hiring happens all the time, across many institutions that work with kids.
“One of the things people say to me is, ‘Why are there so many daycare cases?’ I say it’s like, why do bank robbers rob banks? That’s where the money is. Kids are being abused in daycares because that’s where pedophiles are going,” explained Jeff.
This case was a seismic shift for Jeff Herman’s life and his practice. To him, there is no better feeling than seeing a family overcome a horrible situation and see hope for the future. Since that case, representing these survivors has become Jeff’s mission.
Types of Cases Jeff Herman Represents
There are three general case categories that Jeff Herman takes on. The first category is representing kids who were sexually abused. Parents have to trust daycares and other child care facilities to properly supervise and allow their children to grow up in a safe learning environment. Child care facilities, however, often cut corners in their hiring process or act ignorantly when it comes to ensuring the safety of the kids. When hiring employees, some facilities fail to conduct candidate background checks or notice red flags. As a result, sexual predators may end up working there.
The second category is representing adult survivors who were sexually abused as kids. Even if you were abused in the past, it is important to consult with a lawyer to find out if you are still able to bring your case forward. States have different statutes of limitation and different ethical doctrines of law, all of which play a role in whether or not you may be able to pursue your case. It may still be possible to sue, even if you were sexually abused many years ago, depending on your circumstances.
The third category is representing adults who were sexually assaulted. These adults come from many different situations. Currently, there are a lot of women being assaulted on college campuses, for example. Whether it takes place at a bar, at a party, or elsewhere, sexual assault on campus has grown into a significant problem for universities.
Another adult group facing a serious threat is composed of females being sexually assaulted at spas. Women receiving massages may be put into an extremely complicated situation because it is possible for them to go into a freeze response during an assault situation. This type of response is called “Toxic Immobility.” A lot of these women end up feeling guilty that they didn’t fight back or otherwise resist, which can make it harder for them to come forward with their story.
How Herman Law Operates
Typically, the firm works to sue institutions that have allowed sexual abuse to occur. Whether at school, daycare, camps, or even hospitals, rarely is there no warning that sexual abuse can potentially take place. No matter the details, Herman Law understands that sexual abuse claims are extremely sensitive for victims. So, Jeff and his attorneys approach their clients with a sensitive mindset in order to begin the healing process. That means empowering, not re-victimizing, the survivor.
In a sexual abuse case, institutions are responsible when they have been negligent. If an institution has a legal duty to protect the victim, they may be liable in a civil case for sexual abuse that takes place. This means that a school, daycare center, educational camp, and even a youth sports league can potentially be held liable for sexual abuse that takes place. The attorneys at Herman Law have successfully handled many types of cases with victims suing a variety of institutions.
Herman Law has a special investigation unit composed of former special agents, criminal investigators, detectives, military special forces, and law enforcement officers. This team looks hard for ways to uncover evidence for Herman Law clients. This unit has a lot of experience performing criminal investigations, but Jeff also helps them get started on a case:
One of the things that I do with every case that comes in is sit down on day one with my investigators and we come up with a strategic plan on what to do and how to investigate it. They go out to interview witnesses, get statements, get documents, gather any evidence that we can up front before we even file the case, and so that’s important. I think that puts us at a distinct advantage for when we do file the case I know where I’m going with the case. And I have most of my evidence sometimes before I even file.
A civil case will, on average, take one year to go through. That timeline differs from place to place in different jurisdictions, but to move a case to trial quickly, it will take about a year. However, between getting the case and moving into trial, there will be opportunities to settle.
Confidentially is an important aspect of our world. For clients who wish their cases to remain confidential, Herman Law offers to file them under a pseudonym.
Typical Work Day for Jeff Herman
Although the lawyers at Herman Law run the daily tasks of putting cases together and executing strategy, Jeff is also personally involved in every case. When cases first come into the office, Jeff— along with his lawyers and investigators—strategizes how to proceed. Jeff personally performs depositions and handles the press that comes in. His work keeps him busy and often leads him to travel all over the country, especially for mediation trials. Since a lot of information is bound to circulate in such a collaborative environment, Jeff and his team use a software to communicate in real time that allows them to stay up to date on cases on their phones.
One unique feature of Jeff’s office space is the big whiteboards which help him hone in on key issues. Jeff is a very visual person, so he has made his workplace suit his visual way of processing information. Whiteboards cover the walls and help visualize connections, evidence, and other information, much like in a police television drama.
Jeff’s experience is one of the most valuable assets that he brings to the firm. Over the years, he has learned how to analyze information quickly and efficiently. This helps him identify what is important in a set of facts and hone in on the issue at hand.
Another thing that Jeff has learned over time is how to best empower his clients. In every case that comes to him, Jeff focuses on helping victims become survivors and makes sure they have a voice to tell their story. Even in cases which Jeff doesn’t have the capacity to take on fully, he still tries to help victims heal.
Change in the Industry
A lot has changed in the types of legal cases that Jeff Herman takes on with the rise of social media and the #MeToo movement. As a result of the movement, more people are feeling empowered to reach out about sexual assault. Society today is placing more importance on helping victims see justice, because any kind of sexual abuse can be extremely traumatic. Many of these victims are reaching out to Jeff and Herman Law.
At the same time, Jeff has to be much more careful about the types of cases he takes on because of the stringent scrutiny that comes with the internet. He, now, conducts a lot more screening before taking on a case. and he doesn’t take on every single case that comes to him for various reasons.
The internet can also, in a way, allow more sexual abuse to take place. Not every pedophile physically molests children. There are some who may simply fantasize about having sex with children, and that’s enough to keep them satisfied. In the past, it was very difficult for them to find access to child pornography. When a pedophile got access to it only on a rare occasion, they remained content, but, now, pedophiles can go on the internet, access child pornography quickly, and grow desensitized to it because of the sheer amount that is available.
The way the internet has allowed us to communicate with our friends and family and has brought us closer together has also allowed all kinds of strangers to form groups and communities. When a pedophile is able to communicate with other pedophiles, they can start to believe that other people act like them. In turn, that can lead them to act out their desires in public.
Some will say that we are simply hearing more about sexual abuse, and that doesn’t mean more of it is actually taking place. We are definitely hearing more about the negative news today due to the internet, but overcoming ignorance has also allowed us to grow as a society. Not only are we more aware of the need to take care of sexual assault victims, but we are also catching more predators because of social media. Here is Jeff Herman’s personal take on this situation:
Here’s what happens: years ago, if a teacher wanted to contact a student, they called their home phone, and their mom answered the phone. So, they didn’t have access to the kids. So, now,… they can contact a kid via electronic social media, but, that’s another reason that there’s more of it we see… in most of these cases you’re going to see the perps leaving a digital fingerprint. The mother sees this inappropriate photo the teacher sent to their child, or the inappropriate message, or text the teacher sent to their child and, so, a lot of the teacher perpetrators are getting caught that way.
View the original video interview with Jeff here.
One of the most satisfying cases for Jeff Herman so far in his career has been representing a boy who had been sexually assaulted at a young age and not protected by the school. This experience led him to attempt suicide at a very young age.
However, at the trial, the boy felt great about the simple fact that Jeff believed him. The trial went in favor of the boy, and he and his family received a large verdict in compensation. Today, he is the president of his middle school class.
Jeff is an empathetic person who understands what his clients have gone through. With experience, he has learned how to spin his clients’ feelings of shame into feelings of power. He has learned very specific ways to interview and communicate with victims in order to ensure the healing process takes place.
… one of the things I learned very early on is that the most important thing to focus on is helping the victim heal. Everything else will fall into place… By focusing on helping the victim heal, then we focus on empowering the victim and really giving them a voice. At the end of the day, the money is irrelevant to the victim because they’ve gotten back a sense of control in their life and a sense of empowerment, and that’s the most important thing.
Jeff is actually trained in forensic interviewing and has plenty of experience working with victims. He knows exactly how to make sure his questions aren’t leading and how to preserve the integrity of the victim’s statement. With poor communication techniques, victims can easily be re-victimized. That is something that Jeff works hard to avoid.
Jeff is also great at working with kids and helping them gain a voice after the incidents they went through. Due to his extensive experience with kids, he volunteers his time to help law enforcement train police officers to properly interview kids about their experiences.
Jeff Herman’s Advice to Upcoming Lawyers and Working with Victims
For anyone entering the legal field, Jeff has one main piece of advice: find your passion, and combine it with the law.
Many lawyers end up hating what they do due to busy work schedules and the stressful nature of the job, but Jeff feels that his job is an extension of his life and his passions. He enjoys staying busy at work because he loves helping others overcome terrible situations. To Jeff, his job is an extension of his life, and he truly loves doing what he does. Passion is key to success in almost any field of work, but especially in law.
I find that this area of law is rewarding on so many levels. The most important thing about it, for me, is that, by representing victims of sexual abuse, I really make a difference in their lives. These are serious cases, and people come to me whose lives have literally been thrown upside down. It’s the worst nightmare for a family to have a child who is sexually abused or a victim to come to me as an adult survivor who was sexually abused as a child, but I know now that by giving them a voice and empowering the victims I can help them begin the healing process and that’s what it’s all about.
Finishing Thoughts on Herman Law
Helping victims is the most important reason why Jeff Herman founded Herman Law, and, over the years, the firm has helped countless victims and acquired plenty of experience doing exactly that. What really sets Herman Law apart is that it is organized specifically to help victims of sexual assault. The firm knows how to file sexual abuse cases, how to acquire the evidence, and how to protect victims. That allows Herman Law to truly be successful in what it does.
Herman Law believes that the best way to combat sexual abuse is through education. As a result, the firm works with several organizations that provide educational services and awareness to help prevent sexual abuse of children. The firm also volunteers its time working pro bono (without charging the client for legal representation) in certain cases.
Jeff Herman and Herman Law are dedicated to protecting children, exposing predators, and holding those in charge of protecting the kids accountable. Justice, healing, and accountability are the guiding principles of the firm.
Follow Jeff on Twitter.