Attorneys & Professionals

Mary Ellen Sowyrda

TEL: (617) 479-5000
EMAIL: msowyrda@mhtl.com

Ms. Sowyrda is a partner at the firm and heads the Special Education Department within Murphy, Hesse, Toomey and Lehane, LLP, which currently represents approximately 160 school districts and educational collaboratives in the field of Special Education Law.  She is involved in all aspects of litigation including hearings, mediations, pre-hearing conferences with the Bureau of Special Education Appeals and court cases. She provides clients with daily advice on school-related legal issues and deals with the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education, the Bureau of Special Education Appeals, and other state agencies that involve the provision of special education services to students. She conducts workshops for clients on such special education topics as discipline, inclusion, procedural issues, strategies to avoid hearings and to prepare for hearings, recent trends in the law, Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, the Americans with Disabilities Act and ongoing changes in regulations. Ms. Sowyrda also conducts workshops on these same topics before national groups such as Lorman Education Services, Inc., and the National Business Institute.  Ms. Sowyrda is a Phi Beta Kappa summa cum laude graduate of Boston College and a graduate of Boston College Law School. She is a member of the Massachusetts Bar Associations and the American Bar Association, and has been named a Super Lawyer by Boston Magazine for 2006, 2007, 2008 and 2009.

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CCHRA 2018 Labor & Employment Law Update

Cape Cod Human Resources Association is hosting its 2018 Labor & Employment Law Update, presented by MHTL attorneys Katherine Hesse, Kier Wachterhauser and Sarah Spatafore.  This event will feature a discussion of recent legal decisions, updates, and late breaking developments (such as the Equal Pay Act effective July 1, 2018), and the lessons employers need to know for the coming year.

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Legal Updates

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Governor Baker Signs “Grand Bargain” Bill

On June 28, 2018, Governor Baker signed the “Grand Bargain” bill advanced by the Legislature to address issues relating to minimum wage, Sunday overtime pay, an annual Sales Tax Holiday, and, perhaps most important, establishing paid family and medical leave in Massachusetts. Below is a brief summary of this new legislation.  This law will go into effect in stages and has a number of aspects that will be clarified through regulations and guidance from the state agencies tasked with interpreting and enforcing these new laws. Overall, this bill was touted as a “compromise” between business and labor groups in order to keep corresponding ballot questions off the November 2018 ballot.

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