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.

What's Happening @ MHTL?

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St Florian & Feeney Named By Board of Bar Overseers

MHTL is pleased to announce that two of its attorneys have been named by the Board of Bar Overseers to serve as Hearing Officers for the 2019-2021 term. Alisia St. Florian is a Partner in the firm’s Education Department. Focusing her practice on the representation of public school districts and collaborative schools in matters pertaining to special education, student discipline and civil rights matters. Matthew Feeney is an Attorney in the firm’s litigation department, having served as an Assistant District Attorney prior to joining the firm. Matt has extensive trial experience with close to 100 jury trials in his career. MHTL is honored to be the only firm having two of its attorneys serving as BBO Hearing Officers for this upcoming term.

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Legal Updates

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U.S. Department of Labor Proposes [Again] Increasing Salary Minimum for Federal Overtime Exemption

As you know from prior Client Alerts, in 2015 the U.S. Department of Labor (“DOL”) proposed, among other things, increasing the “salary level test” for exempt employees from the current $455 per week (or $23,660/year) to an indexed amount originally proposed at about $970 per week (or $50,440/year).  The DOL also proposed increasing the “highly compensated employee” exemption from the current $100,000 per year to an indexed amount originally proposed at about $123,000 per year.  After those changes were memorialized in a Final Rule, these proposed changes were challenged in court and essentially abandoned by DOL after the 2016 election.

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