Volunteer nonprofit board members; recent Supreme Judicial Court decision examines scope of immunity from suit

The global pandemic has suddenly thrown many nonprofit organizations into a churning sea of economic uncertainty. As a result, volunteer board members are being asked to make exceedingly difficult decisions about whether and how to try to keep their missions alive and “doors” open.  Economic models have been quickly generated assuming projections of future revenue that may or may not be realized.  What happens if those projections are wrong and nonprofits are not able to meet future obligations?  Could any of the volunteers who sit on the boards of these nonprofits face personal exposure for those obligations? As confirmed by a recent decision of the Supreme Judicial Court in Lynch v. Crawford, 483 Mass. 631 (2019), the answer is probably no — at least so long as board members act in good faith and follow a reasonable process in conducting their financial analysis.  Federal and state law affords volunteers serving on nonprofit boards significant protection from not just liability but from suit. But such protection is not unlimited.  Board members can have personal liability for wrongful intentional, reckless behavior and gross negligence.  And board members who also serve as officers of the nonprofit – generally, the president and the treasurer...

50th Anniversary Event at the Mahaiwe: Black Violin

Fifth of Cain Hibbard’s “five for five” 50th anniversary events held at the Mahaiwe with foot-stomping performance by Black Violin As the last of its five community events commemorating its 50th anniversary, Cain Hibbard sponsored a lively and inspiring performance by the musical duo Black Violin at the Mahaiwe Performing Arts Center in Great Barrington, Massachusetts. The two violinists played their own original blend of classical, Hip-Hop, R&B, and bluegrass music to a packed theatre of middle school students from area schools. The students were on their feet for most of the performance, captivated by the skill and energy of the performers. The performance was part of the Mahaiwe “ah-ha” educational series, a series that Cain Hibbard has been privileged to sponsor every year since the program’s inception.

Fair Use or Foul Play? Copyright Rules in the Digital Age – at the Norman Rockwell Museum

Lucy Prashker and Sarah Kohrs present “Fair Use or Foul Play? Copyright Rules in the Digital Age” at the Norman Rockwell Museum 9/18/2014 Wondering what use you can make of someone else’s creative content? Thinking of sharing a video created by another on social media? Or “sampling” some hit music into your new hip-hop beat?  The rules are less static than you might assume, and they continue to evolve. On Sept. 18 from 4-5:30 p.m. at the Norman Rockwell Museum, Cain Hibbard & Myers attorney Sarah Kohrs and Managing Partner Lucy Prashker presented an engaging and interactive talk, “Fair Use or Foul Play? Copyright Rules in the Digital Age.” A talk that was of particular interest to all stakeholders in the Creative Economy, Kohrs and Prashker answered the easy questions and considered the hard ones, with examples drawn from real life cases involving well known, and not so well known, works of art.   They identified the legal guideposts, debunked common myths, and explored evolving views about fair use, examining the different perspectives of artists, academics and jurists. “Whether we recognize it or not, we all draw on our own sense of ‘fair use’ every day in making decisions about what...

Elisabeth Goodman joins firm; Cain Hibbard opens Williamstown office

Attorney Elisabeth Goodman of Williamstown has joined Cain Hibbard & Myers as a partner, expanding the firm’s busy real estate, zoning and environmental practice.  Goodman will anchor Cain Hibbard & Myers’ expansion in North County, with the firm’s adding an office at Goodman’s current location at 377 Main Street, Williamstown. Goodman’s practice focuses on real estate, land use, zoning and environmental law, with a particular specialty in environmental issues. She graduated Phi Beta Kappa from Rutgers University, and earned her law degree from the American University Washington College of Law. For approximately 10 years, she was the Berkshire-based attorney for a Boston firm specializing in environmental issues; earlier she was deputy chief counsel and acting chief counsel for the Massachusetts Highway Department and for Boston’s Third Harbor Tunnel/Central Artery Project. She has served as a visiting lecturer at Williams College and at Bennington College. She has also served on the boards of Greylock ABC, Inc., which is affiliated with the national program “A Better Chance,” and the Williamstown Chamber of Commerce. She is a member of the Williamstown Finance Committee. Said Cain Hibbard & Myers Managing Partner Lucy Prashker, “Elisabeth is a perfect fit for our practice and our culture:...

50th anniversary lecture series Surrogate Decision Making

3rd of Cain Hibbard’s “five for five” 50th anniversary lecture series held June 25: Lisa M. McCormack on Surrogate Decision Making As the third of the firm’s “five for five” community events celebrating the firm’s 50th anniversary, Lisa M. McCormack, Esq. spoke on surrogate decision making on June 25, 2014 at the Lenox Library.  The title of the presentation was “What to do when your loved ones can no longer make health and other decisions for themselves.”  Lisa, an expert and frequent lecturer in the field, outlined the tools available in Massachusetts to plan for a time when you are no longer able to make decisions for yourself, as well as what to do in the event a loved one did not make those plans, and relatives and friends are forced to turn to a court for help.  The presentation, which was held from 5:30-7:00 p.m., featured a question and answer session followed by light refreshments.

Cain Hibbard and Berkshire Bar Association co-sponsor eDiscovery educational event

As the second of Cain Hibbard’s “5 for 5” 50th anniversary community lecture series, the firm, together with the Berkshire County Bar Association and Precision Discovery (an eDiscovery and computer forensics firm based in New York City), co-sponsored an eDiscovery educational event held June 4 at the Spice Banquet Room in Pittsfield. There were two sessions offered: the first covered computer forensics, including techniques and   methods for retrieving electronic information that may have been either inadvertently lost or deliberately deleted.  The second session covered the new state court rules governing eDiscovery and the nuts and bolts of the eDiscovery process.  The Hon. Fredric Rutberg, the Hon. Daniel A. Ford and the Hon. John A. Agostini participated in a panel discussion during the evening session.  Both sessions were well attended by members of the Berkshire Bar.

Lucy Prashker featured speaker on Intellectual Property and Academic Freedom

Lucy Prashker was a featured speaker at the annual meeting of the Capital Area Technology Association in Albany, New York on April 16, 2014. Ms. Prashker spoke to the Capital Area Technology Association on: “Intellectual property ownership, fair use and academic freedom; Searching for the elusive balance.” Who owns the intellectual property that academic communities create?  And what limits exist on the rights of academics and students to use those works and the works of others?  Sometimes the answers are clear but sometimes they are not.  Using real life examples, taken from college halls and courtroom steps, the presentation illustrated the connections and tensions between intellectual property rights and academic freedom. Co-presenting with Ms. Prashker was John Ellis, Executive Director of IT Services at the College of Saint Rose.  For additional details, visit www.cataconnect.com.

Cain Hibbard & Myers launches 50-Year Anniversary with events highlighting technology in the law

“Dopamine, Email and Christie-Gate,” a 3/25 after-hours event at The Garage @ The Colonial Theatre, launches anniversary year   Pittsfield, Mass.(March 5, 2014)– Fifty years ago, “information technology” barely registered in the lexicon of legal practice. Now, Cain Hibbard & Myers P.C. – a firm with lineage dating back to the 1840s — is marking a half-century of service by highlighting technology’s impact on industry, government, and the practice of law itself. Cain Hibbard & Myers kicked off its 50th anniversary celebration with a March 25 after-hours event at the Colonial Theatre. The evening included mingling and cautionary techno-tales, with Managing Partner Lucy Prashker delivering a brief talk, “Dopamine, Email and Christie-gate: How to avoid email disaster in business, government and love.” Prashker, a seasoned litigator and business lawyer expert in intellectual property and health law, is a frequent lecturer on technology and Internet law. “The Christie administration’s email fiasco reminds us how dangerous email can be,” said Prashker. “We hoped to entertain, but we also wanted to offer some useful tips for staying off the email casualty list. Research on how emails affect brain chemistry provides interesting insight into why really smart people seem unable to stop sending really...

Lucy Prashker elected President of Literacy Network of South Berkshire

Lucy Prashker elected President of Literacy Network of South Berkshire MARCH 04, 2014 The Board of Directors of the Literacy Network of South Berkshire, Inc. (LitNet) has elected Lucy Prashker as President of the 20-year old 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization based in the Lee Library in Lee, Massachusetts.  Prashker was first elected to the Board in 2012, and served as its vice president in 2013.  She succeeds long-serving co-Presidents Lois Lennett and John Felton. LitNet is the largest provider of one-on-one literacy and ESOL tutoring of adults in the Berkshires.  LitNet’s dedicated professional staff trains volunteer tutors, providing them with materials, as well as logistical and ongoing educational support.  LitNet has more than 120 tutors who donate 11,520 hours annually.  LitNet receives no government funding; all of the revenue to support its important work comes from generous individuals and businesses. “LitNet is a great little organization that has had a profound impact on so many lives in South County.  The transformative power of literacy is compelling, both for LitNet’s students, and for our extraordinarily generous tutors who give so much of their time and their hearts.  I feel privileged to be a part of it,” said Prashker.

Lisa M. McCormack speaks at Berkshire Probate and Family Court Bench-Bar Roundtable

On Wednesday February 26, 2014, Senior Associate Lisa M. McCormack participated in a roundtable discussion presented by the Berkshire Probate and Family Court Bench-Bar Committee and the Berkshire Bar Association.  The topic was selected issues surrounding incapacitated persons and persons in need of protection.  The only practicing attorney on the panel, Lisa drew on her 12 years of extensive experience handling guardianships and conservatorships, and utilizing the courts to resolve legal issues that arise in medical emergencies.  The panel also addressed legal instruments available to avoid court involvement in the cases of incapacitated persons and the legal capacity to execute such instruments. The other presenters were Noelle Barrist Stern, Esq., Judicial Case Manager, Berkshire Probate and Family Court, and the Honorable Richard A. Simons, First Justice Berkshire Probate and Family Court. To view Lisa’s profile, click here.