Murphy, Hesse, Toomey & Lehane, LLP Attorney Presents as the Guest Speaker at Emerson College


Murphy, Hesse, Toomey & Lehane, LLP Attorney Karis North was a recent guest speaker at Emerson College’s class on Leadership, which analyzes effective and ethical leadership, and discusses issues of equity and diversity in selecting leaders.  Attorney North spoke to the class of juniors and seniors, and answered their questions about developing leadership skills, best practices for leading organizations and public bodies, and the challenges faced by women leaders.  She is a senior attorney with MHTL’s Municipal and Public Law group, where she advises cities and towns on all aspects of governance, and provides trainings on leadership and sound board practices to public entities.  She is currently the Chair of the Plymouth County Commission on the Status of Women, and a Director of the Massachusetts Municipal Lawyers Association, where she chairs the Bylaws, Policies, and Procedures committee. Formerly, Attorney North served as the Chair of the Governance Committee of the Vermont Law School Board of Trustees, and was President of the Vermont Law School Alumni Association.


Karis L. North has been practicing municipal and public sector law since 2006 and has over twenty years of experience counseling and resolving complex disputes for public clients. She is also an experienced litigator on behalf of municipalities and municipal agencies, private parties, and non-profit organizations. Her practice is focused on counseling and advocacy on behalf of municipal governments and agencies.  She provides representation and advice in the areas of municipal governance, public records and open meeting law, regulatory and environmental counseling and enforcement, real estate transfers and transactions, affordable housing, land use and planning, conflicts of interest, and town meetings. Ms. North has a B.S. from Cornell University and received her J.D. cum laude from Vermont Law School, where she was the Managing Editor of the Vermont Law Review.  She is admitted to practice in state and federal courts in Massachusetts, in the state of Maryland, and before the Supreme Court of the United States.

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Legal Updates

New Features of Public Participation at School Committee Meetings

Following our Alert from March 16, 2023, Civility is Dead – The Supreme Court Rules Municipal Control of Public Speak Limited to Reasonable Time/Place/Manner Restrictions, which discussed the holding to the Supreme Judicial Court’s decision in Barron v. Kolenda and the Town of Southborough (SJC-13284), we promised to bring you more detailed guidance on developing a Public Speak policy for your public body or municipality. The Barron case involved a constitutional challenge to the Town of Southborough’s public comment policy, which attempted to impose a code of civility on members of the public who participated in public comment before public bodies. In Barron, the court interpreted the state constitution to mean that public bodies may request, but not require, that public commentators be respectful and courteous. Instead, a public body may set restrictions on reasonable time, place, and manner comments to ensure that the meeting retains an orderly and peaceable manner.

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