What Is Life Worth? Tailoring the Law to Meet the Challenges of Unique Catastrophes

Posted On Nov 6, 2013 / 5774 | Segal Lecture in Law and Ethics | Philosophy

9/11. The BP oil spill. The Boston Marathon bombing. Major tragedies captivate the
public and often galvanize officials into using unconventional strategies to help those most

  • How does the law respond to such unique catastrophes?
  • In what ways do ethical considerations surrounding the issue of “Who gets what?” pose dilemmas for policy makers?
  • What problems can arise as the result of victim compensation programs?


Attorney Kenneth R. Feinberg of Feinberg Rozen, LLP is one of the nation’s leading experts in mediation and alternative dispute resolution. He has been appointed to administer numerous high-profile compensation programs, having served as special master of the September 11th Victim Compensation Fund and the Agent Orange Victim Compensation Program. Mr. Feinberg was appointed by President Barack Obama as administrator of the Gulf Coast Claims Facility to compensate victims of the 2010 BP Deepwater Horizon oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico (the largest environmental disaster in US history), and has served as administrator of the Aurora Victim Relief Fund and the Hokey Spirit Memorial Fund in response to the shootings in Aurora, Colorado (2012) and at Virginia Tech (2007). Currently, he is serving as administrator of the One Fund Boston victim relief fund, established to benefit the victims of the 2013 Boston Marathon attacks.

Earlier in his career, Mr. Feinberg served as a law clerk for Chief Judge Stanley H. Fuld, New York State Court of Appeals; assistant United States attorney, Southern District of New York; special counsel, United States Senate Committee on the Judiciary; and chief of staff to Senator Edward M. Kennedy. He has also served as adjunct professor of law at Harvard Law School, Columbia University School of Law, and other leading law schools.

The annual Bernard G. Segal Memorial Lecture was established by JTS in honor of the late philanthropist and community leader. Mr. Segal was the first Jewish president of the American Bar Association, and the first Jewish chancellor of the Philadelphia Bar Association.