Doug Berger — A Personal Perspective

Attorney Douglas E. Berger

Doug Berger has a long and varied career that spans from working as a middle and high school teacher and coach, to becoming an accomplished workers' compensation attorney and, ultimately, to serving as a state senator for North Carolina's 7th Senate district.

Many of the talents he used in those positions were developed as a child of 13 while hanging tobacco in Smithfield.

"I carried that same work ethic from the curing barn into my legal career," he said.

A deep knowledge of the workers' compensation system in North Carolina

Doug comes to the Law Offices of James Scott Farrin after 10 years as a Deputy Commissioner at the North Carolina Industrial Commission (NCIC). While there, Doug presided over workers' compensation trials throughout the state, issuing more than 600 opinions and awards. Between 1994 and 1997, Doug supervised the Industrial Commission's Workers' Compensation Fraud Unit, and later managed its Claims Administration Department.

These experiences allowed him to understand the law from all sides, and to see some of the best litigators in the state as they practiced their work.

Doug left the North Carolina Industrial Commission (NCIC) when he was elected to his first of three terms as state senator in 2004. He now concentrates his legal talent solely on Workers' Compensation litigation and dispute resolution at the Law Offices of James Scott Farrin.

"I take joy in being an equalizer," he adds. "I grew up in a neighborhood with bullies. No matter how big they were, there was always an equalizer, even if it was just picking up a stick to defend yourself. I like being the stick for people who are getting run over by bullies, which I believe many insurance companies can be."

A proud moment in a distinguished career

As a workers' compensation attorney, he counts among his proudest moments helping a widow whose husband fell at work, and later died of an infection contracted due to his injury. This was a particularly difficult case because the employer appeared not to have carried the required workers' compensation insurance and the employer died before a settlement was reached.

"I was able to work the case such that the widow was satisfied with the result, despite the seeming lack of insurance," Doug said.

Roots in a working class neighborhood

Doug's world view is underscored by his experiences growing up in a working class neighborhood of Smithfield, North Carolina.

"The neighborhood was set up such that we lived across from a packing plant," he said. "To the left side of my house was the big, fancy house where the packing plant owner lived, and all my childhood playmates lived in rental homes on the right. In a sense, my house was right in the middle of these two worlds."

Neither of Doug's parents graduated from high school. His father was a shop steward in a New Jersey shipyard before eventually moving to North Carolina and running his own small business.

While attending law school, Doug obtained a teaching certificate and took three years off to teach middle and high school history while also serving as a football and tennis coach and advisor to the school quiz bowl team and newspaper.

The class' makeup ranged from children with special needs to intellectually gifted students. One of the teaching methods Doug used was simulations — taking conflicts from history and holding a class trial.

Doug returned to law school with a scholarship to do public service work. Prior to joining the NCIC, he served as criminal prosecutor for the 9th and 11th judicial districts.

In his free time, Doug enjoys spending time with his wife and two children, as well as attending sporting events.