David A. Russcol

Picture of David A. Russcol

My practice encompasses all aspects of civil and criminal litigation, from preliminary investigation to filing suit, through trial and pursuing appeals. In particular, I focus on university sexual assault and discipline matters, appellate advocacy, employment and other civil actions, and criminal defense.

Practice Focus Student Rights & Title IX

Well-versed in the disciplinary processes and policies at colleges and universities, especially those used in cases of sexual assault and misconduct covered by Title IX, I advocate for students accused of misconduct on campus, as well as students bringing claims of sexual misconduct against others. I work with students facing suspension or expulsion. I have represented students at schools in Massachusetts, New York, New Hampshire, and throughout the country on allegations of sexual assault and misconduct, cheating, plagiarism, and dishonesty, and have often been able to guide my clients to achieve positive outcomes. Representative matters include:

  • Advised a student at an elite graduate school who was accused of drugging and raping a classmate, and based on expert evidence, the school found the client not responsible.
  • Represented a student facing criminal charges and campus discipline for alleged assault while intoxicated; all charges were dismissed, and the school reversed an initial decision to suspend the client.
  • Worked with a victim of sexual assault and relationship abuse who brought Title IX claims against her ex-boyfriend, who was expelled as a result.
  • Filed a federal lawsuit on behalf of a former graduate student who faced retaliation after reporting research misconduct and other improprieties by her primary investigator.
Appellate Advocacy

An experienced appellate advocate, I have argued before the Massachusetts appellate courts, including the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court and Appeals Court, and drafted or co-written appellate briefs. I have also written or co-written merits briefs and friend-of-the-court briefs on behalf of employees and other clients raising novel legal claims. Examples of my work include:

  • Prevailed at the Appeals Court on a restraining order appeal, convincing the Court that the evidence was insufficient to justify the order.
  • Submitted amicus briefs to the Supreme Judicial Court concerning protections for employees using medical cannabis under Massachusetts law and anti-retaliation protections under the Massachusetts Wage Act; in both cases, the Court accepted my arguments and reached the desired outcome.
Employment Law and Other Civil Rights

I am an experienced civil litigator, practicing in both state and federal courts.

  • Represented a medical marijuana dispensary in defending against a federal lawsuit seeking to shut down the entire Massachusetts regulatory system for cannabis.
  • Secured a favorable jury verdict in a case raising novel issues arising out of a shooting near a business.
  • Sued Harvard University to defend the constitutional association and anti-discrimination rights of female students who wish to join off-campus sororities.
  • Served as co-counsel in a RICO racketeering lawsuit over fraud by alleged serial sexual predator Steve Wynn and others in obtaining a Boston-area casino license.
  • Filed multiple cases on federal court and at Massachusetts Commision Against Discrimination on behalf of a police sergeant subjected to unlawful discrimination and retaliation. 
  • Numerous six-figure settlements in employment cases involving issues such as sexual assault, sexual harassment, disability discrimination, violation of family and medical leave laws, and retaliation. 

In my employment practice, I regularly represent employees in disputes with their employers, including in cases involving discrimination, unlawful retaliation, the Massachusetts Wage Act, and other state and federal employment laws. I have counseled numerous individuals concerning employment issues and fought to protect employees’ legal rights in matters involving gender discrimination, disability discrimination, age discrimination, unequal pay, retaliation, overtime, and wage and hour cases.

Criminal Defense

My criminal cases range from the state district court to federal courts of appeal and the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court. I have successfully resolved matters, including indecent assault and battery, assault and battery, larceny, and operating under the influence (OUI) cases in state district court. I have also advised clients concerning charges for possible sex offenses, assault and battery, and computer crimes.

  • Represented a graduate student in a sexual misconduct case that continued in criminal court after the school concluded its Title IX investigation and secured an acquittal on all charges.
  • Enabled a client to withdraw admissions to drug charges and thereby avoid very likely deportation.
  • Drafted briefs for a federal district court and court of appeals challenging the conviction and sentence in a white-collar criminal case.
  • Helped a client get a reduced sentence in federal court because the client was improperly sentenced as a career offender.
  • Prevented criminal complaints charging criminal harassment and drug possession from issuing at clerk-magistrate’s hearings.
  • Convinced prosecutors to drop criminal charges like bias-related assault, simple assault, threatening to commit a crime, and disorderly conduct prior to arraignment, leaving my clients with no criminal record. 
Prior Experience

I served as a law clerk for Mark L. Wolf, who was then the Chief Judge on the U.S. District Court in Boston. I assisted Judge Wolf with civil and criminal trials, substantive opinions on motions to dismiss and motions to suppress, and all aspects of the cases he heard. I later clerked for Scott L. Kafker, who was then a Justice of the Massachusetts Appeals Court and has since been elevated to the Supreme Judicial Court. I helped Judge Kafker research and draft opinions in civil and criminal cases implicating constitutional rights, common-law decision-making, and statutory interpretation.

After graduating from law school, I was a Fellow at what is now the Berkman Klein Center for Internet & Society at Harvard University, where my research focused on cyberlaw issues including technological interoperability and the laws governing bloggers and citizen journalists. As an intern, I successfully defended online critics of an alleged cult from a federal racketeering (RICO) suit, and worked at the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Boston.

Professional Activities
  • Member, Massachusetts Employment Lawyers Association
  • Member, Massachusetts Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers
  • Member, Boston Bar Association
Speaking & Publishing
  • Co-author, “The Eye of a Constitutional Storm: Pre-Election Review by the State Judiciary of Initiative Amendments to State Constitutions,” Michigan State Law Review (2012)
  • Co-author, “Standing at a Constitutional Divide: Redefining State and Federal Standing Requirements After Hollingsworth v. Perry,” Washington and Lee Law Review (2014)
  • Super Lawyers
    • Rising Stars, Massachusetts (2016 to the present)
Why I Became a Lawyer

I chose to become a lawyer after taking an undergraduate course in constitutional law and learning about the rich complexities of the balance between individual rights and collective responsibilities, and how those principles have been reinterpreted and reimagined over time. In my practice areas, I generally focus on protecting the rights of individuals and entities against larger institutions with greater resources – universities, employers, and the government. I relish the opportunity to obtain positive outcomes for my clients by thinking strategically and creatively, and pursuing novel theories and issues of law when appropriate.


J.D., Harvard Law School, cum laude, 2007

  • Submissions Editor, Harvard Journal of Law and Technology
  • Editor, Harvard Journal on Legislation
  • Intern, Berkman Klein Center for Internet & Society

B.A., Yale University, magna cum laude, 2004

  • Phi Beta Kappa

Bar & Court Admissions Commonwealth of Massachusetts
State of New York
District of Columbia
U.S. Court of Appeals, First Circuit
U.S. District Court, District of Massachusetts
  • Judge Scott Kafker, Massachusetts Appeals Court (2011-2013)
  • Chief Judge Mark Wolf, U.S. District Court for the District of Massachusetts (2008)
Justia Lawyer Rating
Super Lawyers
Martindale-Hubbell - AV Preeminent - Peer Rated For Highest Level Of Professional Excellence 2020
Recognized by Best Lawyers
Best Lawyers - Best Law Firms
Client Reviews
I hired Mr. Duncan to deal with a very sensitive issue that my daughter had. Since the first contact, I had a very good impression of him. He transmitted confidence and appeared to know exactly what to do. I called and emailed him many times, he was polite and comprehensible with the anxiety of a father and appeared to know every step to solve the case. I strongly recommend Mr. Duncan. Flavio Lajoia
If you are reading this review, it means either you or a family member is in trouble and needs immediate legal counsel. Please know your search can end right now because Zalkind, Duncan & Bernstein is the law firm to hire. They are honest, responsive, compassionate and have the experience and expertise to bring... Client
I contacted Zalkind Duncan & Bernstein to assist with a Title IX case. From our initial conversation, Naomi Shatz had a strong understanding of Title IX policies and conducted each step of the process with professionalism, honesty and a responsiveness that did not disappoint. Ms. Shatz displayed confidence and just as important, compassion when needed. Client
I worked with Emma Quinn-Judge and Monica Shah. And from my first contact on the phone, on to my first meeting in their office and during the trial, I found them and the firm's entire team to be a group of consummate legal professionals who are very knowledgeable, patient, dedicated, fair, honest and caring... Chantal C.
I am forever grateful to all the staff at this firm, but in particular, Ms. Shah, Mr. Zalkind and Mr. Silverglate. They represented my son who was being sought for extradition to Scotland. The case took years to fight, covering new legal ground, setting precedence. But each one of these legal eagles went above and beyond the duty of office... Suzanne D.