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2024 Second Quarter Newsletter

  • President's Message

    Dear ACC Members and Friends,

    Coughlin, James-2023 CROPPED HEADSHOT
    James Coughlin
    Senior Managing Legal Director
    Dell Technologies

    Spring is often a time of growth and rebirth, and for the ACC Northeast Chapter, it is a time to focus on our evolution as an inclusive community for in-house counsel.  Inclusion starts with attracting attorneys from diverse backgrounds and experiences to join our member base, enabling them to feel welcome and valued, listening to their points of view, and working on ways to retain and develop them to elevate their participation in the broader in-house legal community. 

    We have an important role to play in driving greater inclusivity in our own organization and in the wider in-house legal profession.  One way in which we have worked to develop deeper, more meaningful experiences for our members this spring, while we embrace our different individualized characteristics and perspectives, has been to collaborate with our peer bar associations and legal professional organizations. 

    In February, we co-hosted with the Boston Bar Association (BBA), “The Path to In-House Counsel.”  This was the first program in a two-part series that explored the in-house legal practice.  This program was tailored to law students and new attorneys and emphasized different approaches to searching for an initial in-house role, and how to succeed from the outset.  This week, we co-hosted the second program at the BBA, Navigating and Advancing Your In-House Career.  The second installment focused on the potential pathways for advancement in an in-house career, and the skill set needed for success.  This collaboration with the BBA advances the first step to better inclusivity – exposing individuals early in their legal career, including law students, to the benefits of the ACC. 

    In March, we also collaborated with the BBA by co-hosting an in-house counsel DEI networking reception at the BBA.  This affinity bar mixer was a wonderful opportunity to foster connections among in-house counsel members of the Asian American Lawyers Association of Massachusetts, Hispanic National Bar Association-Region 1, Massachusetts Association of Hispanic Attorneys, Massachusetts Black Lawyers Association, Massachusetts Black Women Attorneys, Massachusetts LGBTQ Bar Association, and the South Asian Bar Association of Greater Boston.  In May, my wife Rebekah and I attended the Massachusetts Black Lawyers Association (MBLA) annual gala representing the ACC Northeast Chapter, where we learned more about the impressive work that the MBLA is completing on behalf of their members.  We look forward to deepening connections with all of the local affinity bars in 2024. 

    We continue to improve upon the way we welcome the newest members of the ACC Northeast Chapter.  We now host New Member Welcome sessions, a program that we started in 2023 where our board members provide an overview of our chapter, and educate new members on how to make the most of their membership.  Recently, we expanded the new member welcome initiative to include a Corporate New Member Welcome letter, which we send to the general counsel of new corporate member companies, an individualized approach to engaging with our newest company members.  These initiatives are designed to bring a more personalized approach to our initial engagement with our newest members, and to foster more inclusivity. 

    With Mental Health Awareness month in full swing, it is also worth reiterating the focus on attorney well-being that I wrote about in the last quarterly newsletter.  The ACC Northeast Chapter continues to deepen our collaboration with Lawyers Concerned for Lawyers to highlight the unique stressors that in-house attorneys face, and the ways in which our organization can facilitate opportunities for connection and to seek support among peers within our membership base.  Enabling exploration of various mental health topics and providing access to well-being resources is a main tenet of inclusivity in our organization. 

    In the coming months, we will release a new initiative that strives to provide regional-based networking for our members.  We know that to meet our members’ needs, we need to meet members where they are located.  This concept was created by ACC Northeast Chapter board member, Patrick Wu, who will lead the initiative in partnership with other ACC Northeast board members, who will host local lunches to provide networking opportunities for members in select geographic locations.  We hope that these micro-meetups, outside of our normal event locations, will enable more members to participate in chapter activities from the convenience of a location near them, and to experience the power of our inclusive community. 

    If you have thoughts on how to make the ACC Northeast a more inclusive community, we would love to hear from you.  We hope to see you at a chapter event soon.


    James Coughlin
    President, ACC Northeast Chapter

  • Member Volunteer Spotlight on Cassandra Benito

    Cassandra Benito - Headshot

    FOCUS recently sat down with Cassandra Benito, Senior Corporate Counsel - Compliance at NETSCOUT, a global company providing application and network performance management and cyber security solutions. Cassandra is a newer member to our chapter, having recently relocated to the Greater Boston area. Join FOCUS as we talk to Cassandra and learn more about her career path and how she got involved with ACC Northeast.

    Please tell us a little bit about your company and your role there.  What are your responsibilities and what does a typical day look like?

    I work as a Senior Compliance Counsel at NETSCOUT.  NETSCOUT’s mission is to protect the global leaders of industry from the risks of disruption, allowing them to solve their most challenging network performance and security problems, ensuring the connected world runs safely and smoothly.  As a member of the Compliance team, my mission is quite similar.  I provide guidance geared toward helping ensure our business teams can work successfully within the legal and regulatory parameters.  There are no typical days for me, but most days there is a new question (or variation of an older question) that will come my way that I will have to review, research, and provide written guidance about.

    What was your career path?  What drove you to become a lawyer?  How did you get to where you are? 

    I’ve always loved learning.  When I was in undergrad, I wasn’t sure what I wanted to do with my life, and I may have watched Legally Blonde too many times!  Law school seemed like a great choice because what I would learn there could be transferrable to most career paths.  Since I graduated right after the “Great Recession” finding a legal job was quite difficult.  I was lucky to land a job in public service and began my 10-year career working for the City of New York.  There I was able to handle all sorts of in-house counsel type work: drafting contracts, working with litigation counsel, and providing legal guidance on numerous topics to our business units.  After those 10 years, I was ready to make a move – out of public service and out of NYC.  I knew I wanted to get into an in-house position doing compliance work, preferably with a tech company, so when I found the posting for NETSCOUT, it was the perfect match and it got me to be able to move up here.

    How did you hear about ACC Northeast?  What made you excited to get involved in the ACC Northeast Chapter? 

    My supervisor and colleague are both active members of ACC Northeast and encouraged me to join!  As a person who was new-to-the Greater Boston Area and a new-to-private sector in-house counsel, I was eager to join an organization that could help me grow both professionally and allow me to grow my local network.  I have tried to attend as many of the events as I can (both virtually and in-person) and I have loved the variety of opportunities that the ACC has organized. I have attended webinars, in-person seminars, indoor mini-golf, networking events, and the Peer-to-Peer Connect program.

    What are your interests and hobbies outside of work?  What do you do to decompress and relax? 

    I love spending time with my husband and our 2 dogs.  We have a mini-labradoodle (who is almost 10 but acts 3) and a mini-schnauzer (who is 8 months old and looks like he’s 80)!  I enjoy trail-walking, and I’m looking forward to being able to get out on my kayak this summer.  I also play golf a couple times a month, because it’s one of my favorite ways to spend the day when the weather is nice.  In addition, after a very busy year last year where almost all my weekends were booked up with house-hunting, I am looking forward to a summer of exploring all there is to do around the area. 

    Do you have any advice you have for members, either professionally or personally? 

    My biggest piece of advice is to network. This is especially important for newer attorneys, those looking to move to a new industry or specialty area, and for those who are new to a location.  I’ve found that attending the wonderful events that are offered by the ACC, is a great way to grow your network.

    Cassandra Benito - Candid

  • Pro Bono Spotlight on The Access to Justice Fellows Program

    Mass A2J Lawyers Clearinghouse -LOGO

    The Access to Justice Fellows Program: Pro Bono in Retirement

    “It can be very isolating to retire, and this program gives people a whole new way to engage.  I get to sit down with other Fellows, talk about these problems, try to unravel them, and do something good about them; it’s a great thing.” - John Bowman, 2015-2016 Access to Justice Fellow, Jobs Not Jails

    The Access to Justice Fellows Program offers senior attorneys and judges the opportunity to take on meaningful pro bono projects as they wind down or retire from day-to-day practice.

    Fellows partner with nonprofits, legal services organizations, and the courts to work on a variety of initiatives, such as creating and expanding programs to enhance access to justice, mentoring junior attorneys, representing clients, and advocacy work.

    Nearly 200 Fellows have participated in the program since 2012, and 80% of past Fellows continue to volunteer once their Fellowship year has ended. This program is a great way for senior attorneys to use their specialized skills and experience to do engaging pro bono work, remain active members of the legal community, and help people and groups in need.

    Interested in becoming an Access to Justice Fellow?  Lawyers Clearinghouse is currently recruiting for the 2024-25 Fellows Class! Check out the Lawyers Clearinghouse website or contact Lawyers Clearinghouse Executive Director Susan Gedrick for more information.

  • Committee Spotlight on The Perennials Initiative

    Perennials Initiative

    The ACC Northeast Chapter recently kicked off a new initiative focused on more senior/experienced members of the chapter.  Board member, Sharon Kamowitz, who is spearheading the initiative, shared:

    "The idea crystallized at the 2023 Summerfest event (the first such event post-pandemic).  It was a beautiful summer evening, but when I looked around, I realized that many formerly active members with whom I had hoped to reconnect were not in attendance.  Having recently seen that other bar associations had groups focused on older members, I floated the idea to several people who had indeed ventured out to Summerfest.  Each one of them offered to work on this effort!  Thus, the Perennials Initiative germinated and sprouted.  (The name is based on the flowers that grow back each year.)

    A kickoff call with a number of former Board members was held in early April, with another meeting scheduled for May.  Possible program ideas flowed freely including:  career transitions, consulting, workplace succession, maintaining relevance at work, generational issues, staying active, networking and social events, teaching, mentoring, volunteering, and joining for-profit and nonprofit boards."

    If you would like to get involved in the Perennials Initiative, please contact Julie Duffy at

  • Event Spotlights

    "I attended the ACC’s Clinic-in-a-Box® program as the Board co-chair of a non-profit organization called the Victim Rights Law Center, which provides free civil legal services to sexual assault survivors.  I attended with the VLRC’s Deputy Director, Stephanie Holt.  VRLC has participated in the Clinic in the past, and we’ve found it to be a terrific way to stay on top of the organization’s policies and practices.  Stephanie and I appreciated the practical advice on the VLRC’s employment policies.  The volunteer lawyers, from local in-house legal departments, reviewed a checklist of key policy terms with us and we made edits to update our policies on the spot — a great way to network with other lawyers and stay on top of our policies!"

    - Krista Pratt, ACC Northeast Board Member and Clinic-in-a-Box® Participant

    ACC Northeast Clinic-in-a-Box®
    March 22, 2024 ACC Northeast Clinic-in-a-Box®

    How to be a Trusted Advisor with guest speaker, Stewart Hirsch
    Hosted by Caldwell Intellectual Property Law

    Practice and Career Management may no longer be a standalone committee within ACC Northeast, but the focus on professional development and soft skills remains a central focus of our Chapter’s programming.  On April 11, 2024, the Chapter held an event entitled How to be a Trusted Advisor, hosted by ACC Northeast Chapter's sponsor, Caldwell Intellectual Property Law, in their offices looking out over Copley Square and Back Bay.  The program was designed to enhance trust-based relationships in the professional arena, making it a unique opportunity for attendees to focus on their soft skills development in an engaging, round-table format.

    The program was led by Stewart Hirsch, the founder of Strategic Relationships LLC.  With his rich background as both an executive leadership and business development coach along with substantial experience as a former practicing firm and in-house attorney, Hirsch brought a wealth of knowledge and practical expertise to the attendees.

    He led attendees through key components of the Trust Equation, a concept from the book The Trusted Advisor that offers a formulaic approach to understanding how individuals can judge trustworthiness.  The equation broke down trust into its key components—credibility, reliability, intimacy, and self-orientation — providing a clear framework for attendees to analyze and improve their trust-building efforts.  The session was highly interactive, with attendees sharing various words we associate with trust (dependability, honesty, credibility, and confidence were just some of the examples) that Hirsch weaved directly into their appropriate places in the trust equation.  Hirsch provided practical tips on how to move away from being a mere subject matter expert and how to advance a trust relationship into one of becoming a trusted advisor.

    A key takeaway was the understanding of how building trust, even in a work setting, requires just as much emotional intelligence as it does intellectual intelligence.  We left with a heightened sense of confidence in our ability to shape and guide our professional relationships effectively.

    Huge thanks to Stewart Hirsch for his enlightening presentation and to Caldwell for hosting such a terrific event!

  • Board Reading Recommendation: “Life is in the Transitions” by Bruce Feiler

    A Review by Rebecca Liubakka 
    Communications Committee Member

    Are you on a career path or are you creating a career portfolio?   What impact have COVID, Clocks and Catholics had on your life?  In his bestseller, Life is in the Transitions, Bruce Feiler argues that in this post COVID, Post Industrial, Post Roman Empire age, Americans no longer live a one job, one relationship, one source of happiness life.  Instead, we live a nonlinear life, filled with dozens of disruptions, that often lead to a life transition.

    Half of our lives are spent in an unsettled state.  We have inherited so many decisions to make, decisions our ancestors took for granted.  Gone are the Mill Horns to indicate it was lunch time, closing time, a snow day.  When was the last time you heard a test of the television’s emergency signal, instead, you may get Amber Alerts on your phone, and you may choose to ignore it.  It may or may not impact your actions for the day.

    After years of interviewing people about their lives, Feiler identifies 52 common life experiences that cause change in a lifetime.  Some are voluntary, some are involuntary.  Some are personal, some are collective.  They may be internally motivated, or externally motivated.  Interestingly, and generally, ALL of them require the same skills in order to navigate these changes.  Feiler encourages readers to consider what is their transition superpower and transition kryptonite?

    While his book looks at Transitions, Disruptors and Lifequakes in terms of personal experiences, I believe this perspective is important to consider also in terms of the corporations that we serve.  Confirming that change is inevitable, important, and requires a set of skills that can be identified and taught, brings important ideas to those of us who spend our lives watching and preparing for risk.

    Whether you are in the midst of your own disruptor (most people experience one every 12 to 18 months) or are leading a company through the aftermath of COVID (be it from a corporate office, or a home office), I recommend you spend time contemplating modern decision making:  A slow “Should” Train (e.g., you should have a job before you get married); The paralyzing effect of so many decisions; and the ABC’s of your motivations (Agency, Belonging, and Cause).  It will make you a stronger leader in your own life, and your corporate life.

    I can’t tell you where I learned about this book, but it’s been in my e-library hold for at least 6 months.  I pushed myself to read it for this newsletter.  And it was a push.  But even just swimming in Bruce Feiler’s peripheral materials (TED talks, podcasts, articles in Psychology Today) is worth the time.   Recognizing transitions as they are occurring, and trusting in your leadership skills can help you and your community daily.

    Life is in the Transitions-COVER

  • Sponsor Feature - Businesses: Is Your Company Ready for a Litigation Hold?

    McLane Middleton Logo

    Businesses: Is Your Company Ready for a Litigation Hold?

    By Jennifer L. Parent, Director, Litigation Department & Chair, Business Litigation Practice Group

    Destruction of evidence found not only in drafts of documents but in emails, collaborative tools, texts and the like is a serious legal infraction, whether the destruction was intentional or accidental, and may lead to court sanctions such as adverse inferences or dismissal of claims in a case, fines, or payment of the other side’s attorney’s fees in a lawsuit.  The duty to preserve documents and electronic information usually falls on the shoulders of in-house counsel or business managers who address the issue early in a dispute.  Understanding when the company’s preservation obligation begins and assessing what internal steps the company needs to take are critical to protecting any business.

    The volume of electronic data created on a daily basis is impressive and increases the stakes that something gets lost.  The continued use of email on both company-owned and personal devices creates its own challenges.  Add to that the number of collaborative tools being used by companies in the workplace such as Slack, Zoom, and Microsoft Teams and the amount of data held within those applications.  Consequently, it is not surprising that companies are dealing with the complexities of preservation, collection, and production of this Electronically Stored Information (ESI) in litigation.

    Spoliation is the destruction or significant alteration of evidence.  It includes the failure to preserve evidence when litigation is pending or reasonably anticipated.  The obligation to preserve information arises when a party has notice that the information is potentially relevant to litigation or when a party should have known that the information may be relevant to future litigation.  In other words, evidence must be preserved when litigation is "reasonably anticipated."  The usual circumstances kick-starting this duty might be a lawyer’s demand letter, notice of a complaint with the EEOC or state agency, or notice of a lawsuit.  Depending on the circumstances, the duty to preserve may arise even before this.

    A litigation hold, also referred to as a legal hold, should be sent when this “reasonable anticipation” obligation arises.  Legal holds notify individuals within an organization of their duty not to delete, destroy, or alter electronic information.  Companies must also put measures in place to cease any auto-deletion processes to ensure no relevant information is being lost.

    Determining what information must be preserved depends on two variables: (1) who is involved; and (2) what documents those people have.  When a reasonable anticipation of litigation arises, a company should immediately ascertain the key employees who are likely to have relevant information. That inquiry inherently requires an investigation of the types of information or documents each key player may have and the locations where that information may be stored, including documents in various electronic forms and mediums (desktop, laptop, server, thumb drive, collaborative apps, audio, camera, smart phone, etc.)

    Failing to take the necessary steps to preserve and gather relevant information can be a game-changer in a company’s lawsuit if sanctions are issued.  A company can take a number of different actions to meet its obligation, the most common of which may include:

    1. Work with IT people to gather all backup tapes and other electronic storage mediums that contain electronic documents and place them in a secure location and to ensure that routine data destruction measures are appropriately stopped according to the hold.
    2. Determine the scope of the litigation hold (including subject matter and issues, key players, location of data, and relevant time periods) and promptly stop automatic destruction processes on all different devices until the proper scope can be determined.  
    3. Issue litigation hold notices to key players and IT, informing them that there is a hold on the destruction of any information subject to the preservation obligation.  Key players should be reminded that preservation includes all information within the scope identified no matter where the data is located – for example, work cellphone or personal cell-phone.
    4. Interview key players and determine any required expansion of the scope of the hold and segregate them to prevent any destruction.
    5. Make any electronic forensic images of the hard drives of laptops, smart-phones, and other electronic devices of the key players at the time litigation is reasonably anticipated.

    The obligation to preserve evidence does not end at the first instance that a company reasonably anticipates litigation. That is only the beginning.  As a company learns more about a potential dispute, it should reassess whether it has preserved all of the evidence that it must preserve.  Reassessment includes identifying any additional key players, determining whether new issues require broader preservation, and ascertaining any broader time periods than initially preserved.  Sending out reminders or new litigation holds is advisable.

    It is critical for companies to understand and recognize when the obligation to preserve arises and the steps they are required to take to ensure those obligations are met.  The repercussions to the company can be significant otherwise.

  • Welcome New Members


  • Recent Event Photos

    Want to see what you missed?  Visit our Photo Gallery page!

  • SummerFest 2024

  • New Episode of Around the In-House Podcast


    Be sure to download and listen to new episodes of ACC Northeast's podcast, Around the In-House. Hosted by ACC Northeast Board Members, Ruchi Sisodia Shah and Alex Aferiat, each episode of the podcast interviews a member of our diverse chapter.  Each episode is filled with insights and advice that you can only from others in our community.  Listen Here!

  • Chapter Sponsors

    2024 Chapter Sponsors

    And a special thank you to our state sponsors:

    • Downs Rachlin Martin PLLC (Vermont)

    • McLane Middleton (New Hampshire)

    • Pierce Atwood LLP (Maine)

2024 First Quarter Newsletter

  • President's Letter

    Coughlin, James-2023 CROPPED HEADSHOT
    James Coughlin
    Senior Managing Legal Director
    Dell Technologies

    Dear ACC Northeast Chapter Members and Friends,

    As we hit the ground running in 2024, we feel a deep appreciation and gratitude for you, our members. Our ACC Northeast Chapter Board and Committees are here to serve you and your needs, and we are pleased to report that the health of our Chapter is strong. 2023 was a stellar year for us, a year in which our total membership grew 9%, to reach 1,442 members across our Chapter. Our recruitment efforts yielded a 31% increase in new memberships, and our member retention increased by 4% year over year, respectively. We’re proud of these results, and we recognize the role that each of you played in communicating the value that the ACC Northeast Chapter creates for you and your career, to friends and colleagues.

    We recently conducted our annual membership survey, which received nearly 100 responses.  We learned valuable feedback on critical components of our work, such as how we are doing overall, where our members spend their days working, preferred locations for our programing, and the most relevant program topics.  This information helps inform the direction that we take in 2024 and plays an important role in our Chapter’s strategic planning process.

    The membership survey is not a new process, and last year’s focus highlights the impact of our members’ perspectives. In January of 2023, we conducted our annual membership survey, and in February and March, we held targeted member listening sessions. One of the top career priorities shared with us was a desire for more professional development and networking opportunities. Because of this feedback, we created the Peer Connect Leadership Development series, which aided in the professional development of 33 members. In December, we hosted “The Modern In-House Practice: Navigating Today’s Business Landscape” alongside our sponsor Mintz, which emphasized peer to peer learning. These are real ways in which your feedback guided the direction of our programing in 2023, and our Membership Committee is analyzing the responses for inclusion in our strategic planning for 2024.

    An often less talked about reality for in-house counsel is the unique stress that our in-house legal careers place on us, which is why we recently renewed a collaboration with Lawyers Concerned for Lawyers, Inc. (“LCL”).  LCL is a Massachusetts-based organization with a mission of promoting well-being within the legal community.  In early 2024, LCL and ACC Northeast plan to co-host a multipart series on in-house attorney well-being, designed to offer practical strategies for coping with stress and suggestions for improving your overall well-being.  There will also be opportunities to connect with peers, to learn from their experiences, and to seek support from our broader community.


    Based on the nature of our role as legal counsel to one organizational client, in-house attorneys often face unique pressures and stressors that come with providing embedded legal support to a business.  In-house attorneys report feeling isolated, especially those in senior leadership positions and those in smaller legal departments.  The nature of our relationship to our clients can often lead clients to misunderstand our role, perceive the in-house legal department as a barrier to corporate objectives, or lead to unrealistic expectations about our knowledge on all areas of law.  ACC Northeast sponsor, Bloomberg Law, conducted the “Workload & Hours Survey” in 2023, which found that in-house counsel reported working more hours than those reported by their law firm peers surveyed, and nearly half of those in-house attorneys surveyed reported a decline in their well-being in the first half of 2023.  Broadscale layoffs in certain industries in 2023 exacerbated the pressures that in-house counsel face on a daily basis, as workloads increase and our drive for perfection as professionals persists.  The mental health challenges in our profession know no bounds, so I encourage you and your colleagues to lean on the ACC Northeast, LCL, and other state-based lawyer assistance organizations to support you in your journey.

    Speaking as someone who has relied on my employer’s Employee Assistance Program benefits for counseling and leadership coaching over the years, mental health resources can enable you to be your best self and do your best work.  We work with nutritionists to support our dietary goals, physical trainers to support our physical well-being, and I encourage you to connect with a mental health professional in 2024 to help you feel your best.

    Thank you for your contributions to our vibrant community – I look forward to seeing you in 2024!


    James Coughlin

    President, ACC Northeast Chapter

  • Member Spotlights: Newest Board Members

    ACC Northeast added three new board members in September of 2023. FOCUS recently sat down with Jason Ellis, Danielle Lemack, and Krista Pratt, to help our chapter members get to know them a little better. These three members bring a wealth of knowledge and experience to the ACC Northeast Board.  Join us in finding out a bit more about Jason, Danielle, and Krista.

    Please tell us a little bit about your company and your role there. What are your responsibilities and what does a typical day look like?


    Jason Ellis-HEADSHOT

    Jason Ellis (JE): I hope that everyone already knows of and shops at their local Staples store. What I hope to convey is that today’s Staples is not the same as when you may have done your Back-to-School shopping there years ago. With approximately 1,000 stores in the US, our business has dramatically evolved to focus on service offerings including Print, Signage, Shipping, Unpackaged Returns (think Amazon, Happy Returns), iPostal virtual mailboxes, Travel (TSA PreCheck and Passport Photos), along with a curated assortment of products to complement these services. This shift in business lines presents many new and different legal challenges to address when operationalizing these offerings. Those challenges are why I love working in-house, alongside the business. Along with overseeing all legal issues for the company, as General Counsel and Chief Compliance Officer, I manage Environmental, Health, and Safety, Risk Management, Loss Prevention and Compliance. That provides a tremendous variety in what each day may hold. One day there will be employment matters, another will present an insurance renewal, others will focus on large litigation in California, others will address OSHA and Compliance matters – which is reason #2 of why I love working in-house.


    Danielle Lemack-HEADSHOT

    Danielle Lemack (DL): For more than 170 years, the name Hood® has been synonymous with fresh, quality dairy products that taste great. Founded in 1846 in Charlestown, Massachusetts, the company has since extended its New England roots, and today Hood is a national company distributing dairy and dairy alternative products throughout the United States.  In addition to the Hood brand, we manufacture Lactaid, Almond Breeze, Planet Oat, Heluva Good!, and Brigham’s products.  As one of Hood’s lawyers, I counsel business clients on a wide variety of matters, including advertising, food packaging and regulatory compliance matters, licensing, privacy and information security, contract negotiation, and litigation strategy. I also oversee Hood’s Product Regulatory Affairs team, where I lead a talented group of professionals who ensure Hood’s food labeling and advertising meeting regulatory requirements.   I need to be able to assist with whatever matter arises, so a typical day requires me to be flexible, collaborate with my business partners, and provide business-focused advice.  Every day brings something new and interesting.


    Krista Pratt-HEADSHOT

    Krista Pratt (KP): I serve as Chief Employment Counsel at Biogen, a pharma/biotech company.  I provide legal guidance on HR matters and support our Human Resources team in 40+ countries. My typical day includes a lot of emails and phone calls, but the type of work varies widely. On any given day I could be handling a workplace misconduct investigation in the US, advising on HR issues for a merger/acquisition, interacting with the Compensation Committee of the Board, or overseeing an employee lawsuit in Brazil. I love the variety!


    What was your career path? What drove you to become a lawyer? How did you get to where you are?

    JE: I’m a 3rd generation Massachusetts lawyer, so it is kind of genetic. I have worked both in private practice and in several companies and enjoy each setting. I started out as a real estate lawyer which always seemed to be a calling of mine.

    DL: Since I was a young girl, I wanted to be a lawyer. I was drawn to the profession because I felt that I could help people solve problems.  Following law school, I started my legal career at a boutique intellectual property law firm in Chicago, Pattishall McAuliffe. I was excited to work with tangible brands that had an impact on people’s daily lives. My practice focused on trademarks and advertising and I had the opportunity to counsel clients on branding issues, manage brand protection efforts, direct litigation, and draft commercial agreements.  I realized I enjoyed working closely with business clients to help drive results. I transitioned my career and started working with Axiom, where my first secondment was with Hood. I loved it so much; I joined Hood’s legal department and I’m still here.

    KP: I always wanted to be a lawyer.  In high school, I had a teacher who encouraged me to apply for an AFL-CIO scholarship, which required a labor history test.  I got the scholarship and decided to major in Labor Relations during college.  My interest in labor history and the modern HR movement led to me focusing on employment law during and after law school.  I was an employment litigator two large law firms for over 10 years before going in house.

    How did you hear about ACC Northeast? What made you excited to get involved in the ACC Northeast?

    JE: When I started working at Staples our department was very active with ACC Northeast and I was able to get some great exposure. Eventually I started to join some panels and committees. To be clear, other than ACC there is no organization that focuses on the in-house legal department as a career setting. This holistic approach to the challenges and opportunities of our profession is invaluable. I was so honored to eventually join the ACC Northeast Board because it really impacts this part of the legal profession that is otherwise underrepresented.

    DL: One of my colleagues was very active with ACC Northeast and spoke about how beneficial the organization has been. I first got involved with ACC Northeast when I was on the In-House Counsel subcommittee and participated in drafting recommendations for the Justices of the Supreme Judicial Court about how to improve attorney well-being. I was impressed with the people in the organization and everyone’s commitment to supporting peers within the legal profession.  I later started working with the Programs Committee, where we seek to have events that support lawyers in their professional growth.  As I have become more involved with ACC Northeast, I have become more convinced of the value the group brings to member attorneys – from practical knowledge, to networking, to peer support. In-house counsel is a hard role and ACC Northeast is an invaluable resource for me.

    KP: As soon as I took an in-house role, so many people mentioned the ACC to me.  My law department has a membership, so I signed up for the ACC Northeast mailings and attended a national ACC meeting.  I was hooked! So many great resources and opportunities to connect with my peers. It was a great way to acclimate to as a new in-house lawyer.

    What are your interests and hobbies outside of work? What do you do to decompress and relax?


    Jason Ellis-FISHING

    JE: I just love to be outside, so my hobbies follow the seasons – fishing, sailing and surfing in the Summer, mountain biking as we head into Fall, snowboarding all Winter, back to mountain biking in Spring, and repeat. I also make rustic furniture as time permits.



    Danielle Lemack-SKIING

    DL: I very much enjoy being active outdoors. I am an avid skier and consider Cannon my home mountain (although I love ski trips out west). In the summer, I enjoy hiking in the White Mountains. Each year, I try to plan a special adventure vacation with my family. Our most recent was visiting the Galapagos.  I have two sons who play lacrosse, so I’m also a lacrosse mom.  On a quieter note, I love to read.  Each day, I try to exercise, which helps me decompress and have some time for myself.


    Krista Pratt-BEACH

    KP: I love antiques, rehabbing old furniture, going to shows (comedy and music), reading, and walking my dogs. I also try to spend as much time at the Cape as possible, especially going to the beach with my husband and kids (both human and fur babies).



    Do you have any advice you have for members, either professionally or personally? This can be advice for those just starting in their careers, or tips for experienced lawyers.

    JE: Every chance I get, I urge lawyers to be intentional in their career path. Sometimes things may fall into place but by and large we all need to put ourselves in a position to succeed. That means telling your manager of certain interests you would like to gain experience in, or getting out to an ACC event to learn and connect with others with your interests. One of my favorite sayings is luck is the intersection of preparation and opportunity.

    DL: My top three pieces of advice are:

    1. Find joy in your job – We all work hard, and while nobody loves work every day, it is important to like what you do. Whether it be the legal work, helping your business succeed, or the people with whom you work, it is important to find personal satisfaction in this important part of your life.
    2. Rely on your network – In-house counsel can be a hard job and it is important to seek advice and help when needed. From the peers on your team to your law firms to your network within ACC and other organizations, there is a vast group of people from whom you can seek to learn and get support.
    3. Make time for you – Our jobs require us to work hard and we have busy family lives. It is important to take time to decompress and take care of ourselves as individuals. We all will be better in every aspect of our lives when we do so.

    KP: For me, transitioning from a firm, where I had many colleagues who shared my practice area and expertise, to in-house required me to be intentional about keeping connected to other lawyers in my space. Just having people to bounce ideas off of, see how they are handling similar challenges, share best practices and stay updated on changes. My advice is to leverage organizations like the ACC and bar associations to keep those connections.  That is not only important for your current role, but also those same connections can help with career transitions and new opportunities.

  • Health & Wellness Spotlight

    Massachusetts LCL Logo


    The mission of Lawyers Concerned for Lawyers (LCL), a non-profit organization, is to promote well-being and resilience in the legal community, improve lives, nurture competence, and elevate the standing of the legal profession.  Please visit their website at: or call 617-482-9600.

    Massachusetts LCL Services — For other states please visit: Lawyers Assistance Program Directory

    LCL provides assessment and consultation for addiction, substance use challenges, mental health concerns, and law office management.

    • LCL’s services are free.  A portion of bar dues collected from lawyers is allocated to their work.  As a result, they do not charge for these basic services to lawyers and members of the legal community.
    • LCL’s services are confidential.  The Massachusetts Rules of Professional Conduct Rule 1.6(d) protects communications of clients seeking services from LCL, the same as communications between lawyers and their clients.  In addition, those seeking mental health treatment receive the same protections every person receives regarding their treatment information.  That means LCL does not disclose client information without the client’s consent or a court order.  It also means that seeking treatment or consulting LCL for law office management will not be the basis of any disciplinary action.
    • LCL’s clinical staff are licensed professionals with many years of experience, including some who specialize in addiction treatment.  After providing clients with a one-on-one assessment, the clinical staff assist the client in accessing the help they need in the community.
    • LCL’s knowledgeable and experienced professionals are available to provide educational presentations to legal employers, law firms, bar associations, judges, law schools and agencies throughout Massachusetts.  The goal of these programs is to raise awareness of LCL services, provide education about the impact that substance use and mental health conditions have, as well as help the legal community achieve and maintain its well-being.

    Please visit the LCL website or call 617-482-9600 for more information about webinars and resources to improve lawyers’ well-being.

  • Committee Spotlight

    A Retrospective on the Practice and Career Management Committee (P&CM) by Sean Devlin

    I joined the ACC Northeast Chapter in 2011, fresh out of law school and just starting my first solo in-house legal position at a small but growing utility services business in Boston. At this early stage in my career, I found myself gravitating towards the Practice & Career Management Committee’s program offerings. I attended numerous (in-person) events and met and learned from seasoned GC’s volunteering their time and expertise. This experience was so impactful that I joined the Committee in 2013 and have been an active participant to this day.

    With this sentimental staging behind us, I’m excited to share that the P&CM Committee has now become a “subcommittee” of the ACC’s Program Committee.

    We’ve all experienced (or I guess some may be lucky enough to have only witnessed) disastrous corporate reorganizations. This is not the case here! For starters, this merger of equals came about organically over time as both Committees refined their goals. We’ll have better coordination of overall Chapter programming and more consistent messaging for our members and sponsors. And, the ever popular Around the In-House podcast, a child of the P&CM Committee, will remain in full force within the Communications Committee, broadening its subject matter and reach. There is more than enough work to be done on the Programs Committee, which has enthusiastically welcomed the energy and creativity of the P&CM Committee volunteers.

    I’m very excited about future programs focused on practice and career management being offered through the Programs Committee and grateful that the ACC will remain focused on offering programming that is so valuable to its membership.

    UP NEXT: Elevating AI Best Practices in Contract Lifecycle Management on February 29th!

  • Board Reading Recommendation: "Wellness” by Nathan Hill

    A Review by Kelly Whetstone


    Wellness-BOOK COVER

    I recently picked up a hard copy of a book that struck me with its substantial size, signaling a lengthier read than my usual picks.  At 600 pages, it far exceeded the typical length of a leisurely beach read.  Surprisingly, delving into Hill's narrative didn't prolong my reading solely due to its extent - Hill’s writing style is remarkably engaging, compelling me to swiftly devour the pages.  What extended my reading experience was the frequency with which I paused to contemplate my own life.

    "Wellness" narrates a story that likely resonates with many members of ACC Northeast.  Hill’s central characters, Jack and Elizabeth, cross paths during their college years in the '90s, envisioning a promising future together.  Their aspirations are vivid, but fast-forwarding twenty-plus years, we find them grappling with the intricate juggle of careers, parenting, and their marriage.  They navigate the complexities of aging parents, the delicate balance of PTA dynamics, and the omnipresence of social media while questioning their core values and self-identity.  "Wellness" interweaves parallel tales, showcasing Jack and Elizabeth in their vibrant 20s juxtaposed with their introspective selves in their 40s, alongside side narratives involving their friends and parents.

    Despite the novel's exploration of darker moments, "Wellness" ultimately leaves readers with a profound sense of hope.  It subtly suggests that what might have sufficed for our mental and spiritual well-being in our youthful days might not hold the same significance in our later years.

  • Sponsor Feature: What’s Next for AI? Six Areas to Watch in 2024

    Goodwin 2021 Logo-HZ_HD

    What’s Next for AI?  Six Areas to Watch in 2024

    By: Martin Gomez, Daniel M. Isaacs, Joel E. Lehrer, Gretchen Scott, Omer Tene

    GenAI emerged as a transformative force for businesses in 2023. Here's how AI and the legal landscape could evolve this year.

    Generative AI (GenAI) surged to the forefront of corporate agendas and public policy debates last year, promising to boost productivity and innovation. What’s in store for AI in 2024?

    Companies will increasingly turn to new AI tools, offering enormous potential economic benefits across the world. GenAI could add as much as $4.4 trillion in annual value to the global economy, which — to put that in perspective — would exceed the size of the UK’s economy, according to consulting firm McKinsey.

    Novel AI tools that can identify new materials and compounds could dramatically accelerate scientific discoveries, such as drug development and the creation of materials for use in batteries, solar cells, and other clean technologies.

    Continued innovation will likely help sustain a venture-capital gold rush into AI startups this year. The rapid evolution of AI will also lead to more legal cases, including those concerning intellectual-property rights of AI-generated content. Courts will begin to weigh in on some of these issues in 2024, but legal clarity will take years to establish. In the meantime, businesses should prepare for the expected passage of the EU AI Act, a set of AI rules that is global in scope.

    Without a crystal ball, we cannot predict exactly how AI developments will unfold. But here is what we expect might play out in six key areas of AI in 2024:

    1.  A surge in new GenAI tools will carry licensing challenges.

    Many companies began using GenAI chatbots over the past year to capitalize on their human-like ability to answer questions, write code, and review documents. This year, expect an influx of new GenAI tools, some of which build on preexisting technologies. Imagine all the different ways a GenAI chatbot could be incorporated into search engines, browser extensions, and word processors.

    Businesses looking to acquire these new tools will need to navigate some risks that can arise from AI licensing deals. AI tools are often built on third-party data, which can be associated with intellectual-property and privacy risks.

    The bottom line is that companies seeking to integrate these AI products need to understand what data these AI systems use and how they use it.

    2.  Pressure on patent laws will mount.

    New AI tools are making discoveries beneficial to the life sciences industries, from desirable protein binding target sites to designs for novel chemical compounds and other therapeutic materials. These sorts of technologies could revolutionize drug development, but current judicial precedent might hold back some of the potential gains.
    Patent law currently does not allow patenting of subject matter for which AI is the sole inventor. In Thaler v. Vidal, a federal appeals court determined that an AI platform could not be listed as the sole inventor because AI was not a “natural person,” or human.
    Some drug makers might not use AI to invent new products unless the law changes and clearly allows them to patent their AI-generated work. Patents are particularly crucial for drug companies because drugs are a reverse-engineerable technology. If company A does not have a patent on its drug, company B could reverse engineer — or replicate — company A’s drug once it enters the market.
    Companies in other industries, such as software, are less likely to deal with concerns of reverse engineering but have always faced a difficult choice between seeking patent protection and maintaining their innovations as trade secrets. The current patent laws might tip the balance and encourage more software companies to keep their AI-generated inventions as trade secrets rather than patenting them.

    3.  Copyright cases will proliferate.

    Courts will begin to consider cases that could result in new precedents for how copyright law applies to AI-generated work and to AI tools. Legal clarity will develop over several years, with cases this year marking a preliminary step in the crystallization process.
    Courts will start to hash out to what extent individuals and companies can copyright AI-generated work. Similar to patent law, the courts have confirmed that creative subject matter created solely by AI cannot be copyrighted; however, works that include AI-generated material appear to be copyrightable in cases in which at least some of the creativity can be attributed to humans. That could include situations in which an artist modified material initially generated by AI or cases in which a musician used AI as a tool to enhance their own work.
    Courts will also analyze the degree to which AI tools such as GenAI chatbots can use third-party intellectual property. Copyrighted material can be used without the copyright owner’s permission in certain circumstances under a legal provision called “fair use.” GenAI chatbots are often trained on third-party information from websites, books, and newspapers, raising questions about the boundaries of fair use.

    4.  Regulations will begin to take shape.

    EU lawmakers are on the verge of passing the EU AI Act, a set of rules governing the creation and deployment of AI systems that will have an impact across the globe. Although the US is not likely to pass its own version of the EU AI Act, many US companies, including those that do business in the EU, will be subject to the EU’s regulation. And in the US, legislative, regulatory, and enforcement efforts will impact the development and deployment of AI.

    Over the past year, policymakers debated how to update the draft EU AI Act to address the sudden emergence of GenAI systems, delaying the regulatory process and highlighting the rapid evolution of AI. The regulation of foundation models and GenAI systems remains one of the main stumbling blocks to passing the EU’s regulation.

    The EU AI Act is written in broad terms intended to offer flexibility as AI evolves. Nevertheless, regulators might struggle more generally to keep up with the pace of technological change associated with AI. Consider the possibilities of quantum-backed AI, which is on the horizon.

    Emerging technologies often develop faster than the law, with data privacy offering a recent example. The surge in big data generated through the online economy in the 2010s pushed the boundaries of preexisting privacy laws and heralded the emergence of the GDPR (the EU General Data Protection Regulation) as a de facto global standard.

    Companies will need to begin preparing for global AI regulatory and enforcement initiatives. As preliminary steps, businesses should identify what AI systems they use and understand the level of risk their systems pose according to the EU AI Act’s risk tiers. They should also establish robust AI governance within their operations to institutionalize AI ethical principles in relation to the development and deployment of AI systems.

    5.  Data privacy and bias challenges will intensify.

    As companies build and deploy new AI systems, privacy and bias challenges will become even more prominent issues. Developers of AI systems, in particular, will be focused on how to create unbiased, secure AI tools.

    Privacy concerns can arise from a GenAI model accessing personal information through a prompt and using such information without consent. Data bias can stem from cases in which AI systems train on data that reflects existing social biases.

    Last year, several federal agencies including the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, the Department of Justice, and the Federal Trade Commission issued a joint statement indicating their concerns about AI bias, discrimination, and privacy risks. The FTC has intensified its regulation and enforcement in the context of AI issues.

    Companies can take practical steps to mitigate these risks. They can, for instance, tighten controls of data flows to avoid the leaking of personal information into AI models. Where personal information is used to train AI models, the data should be carefully interrogated to ensure that it is actually necessary and to ensure the quality and diversity of the datasets.

    6.  Investment in AI startups will remain hot.

    Investors poured money into AI startups last year, bucking a broader slowdown in the tech industry. Global venture-capital investment in GenAI startups totaled $23.2 billion from January through mid-October 2023, up about 250% from 2022’s full-year total, according to PitchBook.

    The gold rush into AI startups is poised to continue this year. The reason boils down to the fact that investors will invest in innovation, and AI is set to become an even stronger and more versatile tool.

    This informational piece, which may be considered advertising under the ethical rules of certain jurisdictions, is provided on the understanding that it does not constitute the rendering of legal advice or other professional advice by Goodwin or its lawyers. Prior results do not guarantee a similar outcome.

  • New Members

    2024-1Q New Members Welcome Cal-RESIZED


    Please join us in welcoming the following new members who have recently joined the ACC Northeast Chapter:

    • Natalie Benavides, Staples, Inc.
    • Christina Caffarella, Toast, Inc.
    • Chantal Choi, Toast, Inc.
    • Padma Choudry
    • Mary Eldridge, Neighborhood Health Plan of RI
    • Kevin Foley, Biogen
    • Lauren Gee, FullBeauty Brands
    • Sam Hudson, Laboratory Corporation of America
    • Naomi Jackson, Thrasio, LLC
    • Mary Jennings, CRRC MA Corporation
    • Brendan Kennedy, Olympus Corp. of the Americas
    • Rithika Kulathila, BlueRock Therapeutics
    • Scott Larson, Ginkgo Bioworks, Inc.
    • Caroline Lawrence
    • Anastasia Likhanskaya, Computershare Limited
    • Christabelle Lteif, Genesys
    • Rebecca Maynard, Microsoft Corporation
    • Laura Moloney, State Street Corporation
    • Barbara Parker, Sevita
    • Jessica Parker-Battle, Biogen
    • Lisa Parks, MacDougall Advisors, Inc.
    • Miya Reichwald, Openly LLC
    • David Rouse, Snyk, Inc.
    • Benjamin Snitkoff, Ginkgo Bioworks, Inc.
    • Jon Whitson, ADP
    • Jennifer Zarutskie, Harbinger Health
  • Recent Event Photos

    Want to see what you missed?  Visit our Photo Gallery page!

  • Member Benefit: Local Job Board

    Job Board Graphic

    All ACC Northeast member companies are invited to submit their local in-house counsel position openings for posting on the Northeast Chapter Job Board as a free service to ACC member companies.  A description of each new career opportunity will be emailed to all ACC Northeast members along with a link to an online application or a company HR contact's email address.


    To post a job opening on the NE Job Board please contact the ACC Northeast Chapter Assistant, Joanne Ray, at

  • Chapter Sponsors

    2024 Sponsors for Newsletter-FINAL v5

2023 Fourth Quarter Newsletter

  • President's Letter

    Coughlin, James-2023 CROPPED HEADSHOT
    James Coughlin
    Senior Managing Legal Director
    Dell Technologies

    Dear ACC Northeast Chapter Members and Friends,

    In the past, when I was asked by a colleague or friend to explain the value of ACC membership, I would gravitate towards sharing our organizational mission, or metrics around how many members we have or how many programs we host annually.  While it is true that the ACC’s mission and the metrics collected to measure the progress of established objectives are important indicators of the organization’s value, this misses the mark on what is truly important and more difficult to quantify. That is the impact that we have on the careers of our members.  

    As an inclusive, member driven organization, the ACC’s members are our most valuable asset.  Everything that we set out to accomplish is driven and measured by the impact that programs and broader initiatives will have on our members.  The true, perhaps immeasurable, value of ACC is in the individual stories of members who rely on their peers to assist in finding a new role, venturing into a new practice area or learning about the evolution of the in-house legal function and available resources in areas like technology and artificial intelligence.

    I grew up in the legal profession with the ACC Northeast Chapter as an integral platform for my development.  For nearly a decade I’ve had the pleasure to serve in various committee and board leadership roles – for almost as long as I have practiced law.  The lessons that I learned and the connections I made serving as Vice President, as a leader on the Communications Committee, Social Media Committee, Pro Bono Committee, Membership Committee, Board Nominating Committee, and as the co-founder and chair of the Next Gen Committee helped shape my perspective on what matters most to our members.   One month into my new role as the Northeast Chapter’s president, it is these experiences and the people I continue to learn from, who help me sharpen this member driven focus.

    I recently attended my first ACC Annual Meeting in San Antonio, and it was a wonderful reminder of the power of this organization.  There is no better place to network, share ideas, and learn from the best legal minds in the industry.  Whether attendees focus on attending sessions on cutting edge topics such as the evolving use and regulation of artificial intelligence, the growing importance of ESG, or lessons in leadership, interacting with law firm or legal services exhibitors, or networking with global peers, the Annual Meeting offers world class opportunities for growth.  

    My favorite Annual Meeting event occurred on the first day, when former CEO and chairman of United Airlines, Oscar Munoz delivered his keynote address.  Oscar inspired the crowd with his resilience and humility, which are seminal traits of effective leadership.  He talked about the challenges that he faced, and how he maneuvered those challenges to raise employee morale and rebuilt trust with customers, investors, and the company’s broader stakeholder groups. The leadership lesson that I took away from his session was simple but powerful – listen, learn, and then lead.

    Oscar’s lesson is pivotal to executing on our strategy as the Northeast Chapter.  This past Spring we paired our annual member survey with a new member feedback program called “Member Listening Sessions.”  What we heard in the survey responses and from the listening sessions is that members want more opportunities for professional development.  Members want to learn from each other and to engage in peer-to-peer exchanges of knowledge and ideas.  Based largely on this feedback, we created the Peer Connect: Next Gen Leadership Development series, and we completed the five class, blended learning program in September.  The thirty-two-member cohort attended sessions covering topics in management, leadership and career development, exploring how to best position themselves as trusted advisors for their clients. During the Member Listening Sessions, we also learned that new members want a more personalized welcome when they join.  From this feedback, the semi-annual New Member Welcome session was born.  

    Much of the success of the ACC Northeast would not be possible without the leadership of immediate past president, Stephanie Lambert.  Stephanie’s direction guided our chapter through the challenges of the later stages of the pandemic, and she helped us chart the course we are on today.  During her tenure we expanded our collaboration with other legal professional organizations and affinity groups and prioritized our focus as a welcoming and inclusive association.  She played a prominent role in ensuring our organization has the right strategy, the right people, and the right energy to lead us into the future.  I want to take this opportunity to thank her for her excellent example of leadership.  

    I am deeply thankful for the trust that the Board of Directors has placed in me, in electing me president.  It is an incredible honor and responsibility to lead this organization.  It is only possible with their support and partnership, as well as the incredible contributions that our Executive Director, Julie Duffy makes daily.  Nothing happens without her.  To our outgoing board members, former treasurer, Ian Hecker, and former president Gemma Dreher, thank you for the opportunity to learn from you.  To my colleague and mentor, and our former board member, Krish Gupta, thank you for encouraging me to join the ACC many years ago, and thank you for your support along the way.

    If you have ideas for the Northeast Chapter that you would like to share, please reach out to me.  As your new Northeast Chapter president, I am here to listen to you, learn from your ideas, and lead with your best interest front of mind.  


    James Coughlin

    President, ACC Northeast Chapter

  • Member Volunteer Spotlight on James Coughlin


    Please tell us a little bit about your company and your role there. What are your responsibilities and what does a typical day look like?

    I work for Dell, where I lead a team that supports technology transactions for the North America sales organization, as well as the North America channel partner program.  There is not typical day at Dell, and no shortage of opportunity for growth and development.  At times, Dell acts with a start-up mentality, which requires a balance between running the daily operations of the commercial legal team, and leading efforts to transform how we do our work.

    What was your career path? What drove you to become a lawyer? How did you get to where you are?

    The earliest memories I have about my aspiration to become an attorney revolve around the desire to help others. Growing up in Quincy, the pro bono examples of historical figures like John Adams, and John Quincy Adams were front and center in the classroom.

    Like many who entered law school in 2008, all the dreams that I had of a career path from law firm summer associate to eventual law firm partner never materialized.  I never summered at a firm – in fact, I never worked at a firm.  I went to Suffolk University Law School at night and worked full-time as an investigator for the Massachusetts Attorney General’s Office during the day.  This experience made me realize that instead of investigating businesses, I wanted to help counsel them.  I decided to pursue an MBA alongside the JD, and I took the opportunity to pursue my first in-house role as a contracts manager at EMC in 2013.  Later, I supported the RSA cyber security business for several years, prior to my current tenure supporting Dell sales.   

    How did you hear about ACC Northeast? What made you excited to get involved in the ACC Northeast?

    I had a 1x1 meeting in the office of former ACC board member, Dell colleague and mentor, Krish Gupta back in 2014.  Krish recommended that I sign up for the ACC and get involved in a committee.  In 2017, He helped me co-found the “Young Lawyer’s Advisory Council,” which we renamed the Next Gen Committee.  This committee still operates today as a networking platform for attorneys who are new to the in-house practice.

    What are your interests and hobbies outside of work? What do you do to decompress and relax?

    I enjoy running and exercising with my wife, daughter, and son, and spending time on the Cape in the summer.  This winter, I am looking forward to skiing more with my daughter.

    Do you have any advice you have for members, either professionally or personally? This can be advice for those just starting in their careers, or tips for experienced lawyers.

    If you suffer from imposter syndrome (like I often do) you’re not alone.  I have been fortunate to have several mentors during my tenure in-house, who have helped me realize my potential to grow into a department leader.  The lesson I learned:  find a mentor who will believe in you, even when you have a tendency to doubt yourself.

  • Pro Bono Spotlight: Kids in Need of Defense (KIND)

    Kids in Need of Defense - LOGO

    Kids in Need of Defense (KIND) is the preeminent international nongovernmental organization devoted to the protection of unaccompanied and separated children. KIND envisions a world in which every unaccompanied child on the move has access to legal representation and has their rights and well-being protected as they migrate alone in search of safety.
    Through strategic partnerships, KIND provides pro bono legal representation for forcibly displaced children across the United States through a robust network of over 800 law firms, corporations, law schools and bar association partners. Our dedicated team trains and mentors our volunteers throughout their cases with us.  KIND staff also represent these children and provide Know Your Rights presentations in the cities in which we work to share vital information with communities in need.
    KIND’s strength as an organization, impact on the community, and capacity to grow and serve more children is a direct result of our successful engagement with local legal providers and community service organizations. Many of the children currently served by KIND’s Boston field office are matched with pro bono attorneys who volunteer from law firms, solo practices, and corporate legal departments from across Massachusetts and New England. If you are interested in taking a case, KIND will provide you with guidance, training opportunities, practice tips, samples, and feedback on filings.
    To support KIND as a pro bono attorney, as a volunteer interpreter, or through a donation, please visit or email

  • Committee Spotlight: Women's Committee

    NE Women's Committee Members

    The dual purposes of the Women’s Committee of the ACC Northeast Chapter are to offer new and seasoned in-house lawyers a supportive environment in which to develop strong relationships with other in-house counsel and to provide a variety of legal and professional development events, with a focus on attorneys who identify as women.
    The Women’s Committee fulfills its mission in a variety of ways, including monthly virtual coffee chats and terrific programming events. The Women’s Committee coffee chats take place via Zoom on the third Wednesday of the month at 3 p.m. ET and are open to ACC Northeast members of every gender. One participant plans a topic that is focused on a legal or professional development issue and shares some light reading in advance of the coffee chat. The host typically guides the conversation initially and it flows freely from there. The coffee chats adhere to Chatham House Rules as participants often share authentically with one another. Please consider joining an upcoming coffee chat.
    The Women’s Committee hosted an event in early October that brought together many of the ACC Northeast members with colleagues from our 2023 law firm sponsor, Bowditch & Dewey. We gathered on an unusually warm evening in the Weston Arts & Innovation Center to learn from best-selling cookbook author, Terry Walters, about the nourishing connections among food, body, mind and soul. All attendees received a copy of Terry’s latest book, Nourish, and enjoyed samples of some of her recipes while networking and discussing healthy habits. Stay tuned for invitations to upcoming events.

    If you are interested in volunteering with the Women’s Committee or joining the monthly coffee chats, please reach out to Julie Duffy at

    October Women's Event with Terry Walters

  • Event Spotlight: ACC Annual Meeting

    ACC Northeast at the Annual Meeting

    In case you missed it, this year’s ACC Annual Meeting took place in San Antonio, Texas on October 22-25, and ACC Northeast was well represented! Here’s what a few of your fellow New Englanders had to say:

    “My first ACC Annual Meeting was 13 years ago in San Antonio, and it was great to get back there last week.  I'm pleased to report that the ACC Annual Meeting continues to deliver a fantastic mix of education, inspiration, networking, and legal vendor interactions.  Highlights included: an enlightening keynote conversation featuring Oscar Munoz, former United CEO, bringing great lessons from the C-suite; a hilarious closing musical parody featuring legal ethics topics; lots of coaching on legal practice tricks and tips; a nice private evening gathering for our Northeast chapter members; excellent Texas hospitality, and plenty of time to gather and connect with attorneys from around the country.  At the meeting I made sure to attend a number of IP-related sessions, and I'm back at the office now with a list of action items to improve how we are managing things in this area and others.”

    • Christian Ehrbar, VP and General Counsel, Berkshire Grey, Inc.

    “I very much enjoyed the ACC Annual Meeting.  San Antonio is such a great city for a conference.  It’s delightful to walk along the Riverwalk to get from hotels to the convention center and social events.  This was my first time attending ACC Annual Meeting.  I just joined ACC a few months ago when I signed up to go to the Annual Meeting.  Since I was an IP specialist until I took my current position as General Counsel at Franklin Sports a little over a year ago, I chose the Annual Meeting primarily for CLE as I wanted to educate myself in areas outside of IP to make me more effective in my role.  There were so many interesting topics, it was hard to choose.  The sessions I attended were excellent.  The one I found most informative was a tabletop exercise on a ransomware attack.  A secondary consideration in attending the meeting was networking.  I liked that ACC has a Sports and Entertainment Network.  I attended their networking lunch and met lawyers from several professional sports teams as well as lawyers from other companies who are sponsors of professional sports.  The social events were fun, particularly the Small Law Department Network party atop the Tower of the Americas, and, of course, the ACC Northeast Chapter event at The Moon’s Daughter, which also had great views of the city.  I really enjoyed meeting Kelly Huffman of Advanced Power at the ACC Northeast Chapter event.  We certainly got lots of steps in walking around from event to event!”

    • Michelle Brownlee, General Counsel, Franklin Sports, Inc.

    “This year’s ACC Annual Meeting was a wonderful reminder of the power of the ACC.  There is no better place to network, share ideas, and learn from the best in the industry, than the Annual Meeting.”

    • James Coughlin, ACC NE Chapter President and Senior Managing Legal Director, Dell Technologies

    “This was my second conference (Las Vegas being my first) and I thought it was wonderful!  The opportunity to meet so many people nationally (and internationally) was invaluable, and the individual programs were very good.  I appreciated the career resource center events (headshots and coaching!) and had fun at the network and sponsored parties.  Well done ACC!”

    • Yvette Politis, Chief Employment Counsel, RELX Inc.

    “On behalf of Liberty Mutual Insurance, it was an honor to be acknowledged by the ACC as a 2023 Value Champion, along with so many other talented award recipients. While I was only able to attend the awards ceremony on Sunday evening, the ACC made the event an amazing networking and social opportunity. Not only was there a buzz throughout the event, but, importantly, attendees were able to learn a great deal about the incredible work being done in the industry by ACC members and other award winners. A special thank you to the ACC’s Veta Richardson, President & CEO, and Cristina Gonzalez, Vice Chair and CLO, for their leadership and comments during the evening. I am certain we at Liberty will have many opportunities to collaborate with the ACC and look forward to our continued relationship and shared interests in advancing all things Corporate Counsel. Thank you again!  

    • Scott A. Bell, AVP, Senior Corporate Counsel, and Manager, Liberty Mutual Insurance

    “The ACC Annual Meeting was fantastic this year. From educational and interactive panel discussions to meeting in-house counsel from all around the world, I came home with a wealth of learnings and new connections – not to mention, all the delicious Tex Mex I could eat. Looking forward to next year’s conference in Nashville!”

    • Patrick Wu, ACC NE Board Member and Senior Corporate Counsel, Netscout

    “I look forward to October because it means it’s time for the Annual Meeting! While I love the sessions, the networking is my favorite part. I am able to catch up with friends from my Chapter, as well as see colleagues and acquaintances from around the country who I met in past years. Best of all, I get to make new introductions. My network grows exponentially each year I attend the Annual Meeting!”

    • Kelly Whetstone, ACC NE Board Member and Deputy General Counsel, ACA Group

    “I attend the Annual Meeting because it enables me to understand the latest thinking on topics that come across my desk every day.  From AI to geopolitical unrest to FCPA enforcement this year’s meeting covered it all.  It’s also an opportunity to see old friends and expand my network. It’s an event I look forward to every year!”

    • Stephanie Lambert, ACC NE Board Member and Immediate Past President; VP and Chief Compliance Officer, Netscout

    Mark your calendars for next year’s Annual Meeting in Nashville, Tennessee on October 6-9, 2024!

    ACC Annual Meeditng in San Antonio-1

    ACC Annual Meeditng in San Antonio-2

    ACC Annual Meeditng in San Antonio-3

    ACC Annual Meeditng in San Antonio-4

  • Board Reading Recommendation: Boys in the Boat by Daniel James Brown

    Boys in the Boat-COVER

    I have found myself in a tough spot and it is every bit a result of my own doing. I’ve known about the deadline for this book review for months now, but I have yet to finish the book.

    A copy of The Boys in the Boat by Daniel James Brown has sat unopened on my bedside table for over three months until just this last week. I know. Pathetic. But, I’ve made quick progress over the past week finding pockets of time in the evenings to dive into this fabulous book. I’m almost done and I’m determined to finish it soon. And I will, but not before the deadline for this article has arrived. I’m owning this failure. So here we are. Since I haven’t finished, where to begin?

    Dan Brown’s vivid storytelling of the 1936 Olympic gold medalist U.S. eight-man boat can read at times as a scientific treatise on the physical and psychological nature of rowing, however its setting in the dramatic historical backdrop of the American dustbowl and Depression with a looming Nazi Germany on the horizon infuses the oftentimes technical writing with energy and purpose.

    Dan Brown focuses heavily on one rower, Joe Rantz, but succeeds in creating narrative details around each individual character making up this gold medal crew. They’re all underdogs, and everybody loves an underdog story! A whimsical homespun philosophy is weaved throughout the story shared through the character of George Pocock, an English-born boat builder who works in a woodworking shop above the team’s University of Washington shell house.

    I have thoroughly enjoyed this book so far and highly recommend it. I can’t imagine the ending will disappoint. I am also looking forward to freeing up space on my bedside table!

  • Sponsor Feature: Financial Protection and Autonomous Systems


    Financial Protection and Autonomous Systems: Recent CFPB Actions Focused on AI — AI: The Washington Report

    by Bruce D. Sokler, Alexander Hecht, Christian Tamotsu Fjeld, and Raj Gambhir

    This article covers recent actions by the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (“CFPB” or “Bureau”) on AI. The Federal Trade Commission is not the only consumer protection authority seeking to apply its existing enforcement authority to the domain of AI. The CFPB, a body tasked by Congress with “implementing and enforcing Federal consumer financial laws,” has recently issued statements and a proposed rule addressing how certain deployments of AI may violate consumer financial law.

    Our key takeaways are:

    1. In May 2022, the CFPB released a circular asserting that creditors that use AI “in any aspect of their credit decisions must still provide a notice that discloses the specific principal reasons for taking an adverse action.” Following up on this notice, a September 2023 CFPB circular asserts that creditors relying on AI models to make credit decisions must provide applicants subject to adverse actions with “specific” notices explaining the “principal reason(s) for the adverse action.”
    2. A June 2023 CFPB report warns financial institutions that they “risk violating legal obligations, eroding customer trust, and causing consumer harm when deploying chatbot technology.”
    3. The CFPB proposed a rule in June 2023 that would mandate certain entities using automated systems make credit decisions that “adopt policies, practices, procedures, and control systems to ensure that [certain AI models] used in certain credit decisions or covered securitization determinations adhere to quality control standards designed to meet specific quality control factors.” The comment period on this rulemaking has now closed, but no final action has yet occurred.

    Read the full article here:

  • Maine Programs

    Finance, Accounting, and Tax! Oh My!

    Pierce Atwood 2021 LOGO


    There is a common joke among lawyers that if we were meant to understand numbers, we would have gone to business school instead of law school. However, as in-house counsel, it is more important than ever for attorneys to have a basic understanding of business financial concepts that impact their businesses so that they can advise their boards and have a seat at the table.

    On October 19, Maine attorneys gathered for the third of four CLE sessions conducted by ACC NE sponsor Pierce Atwood at its seaside downtown Portland office. Pierce Atwood partners Ryan Kelly and Olga Goldberg, along with accountants from BerryDunn, gave an informative and interactive presentation on financial concepts that all in-house counsel should know, including financial statements and disclosures, debt and equity finance, mergers and acquisitions, audits, and state and local taxes. The panelists used real life examples from their practices to demonstrate concepts and answered several questions from the audience. After the presentation, attendees mingled with the presenters at an in-office happy hour.

    Please join us on December 1, 2023 from 8:30 – 12:30 for the final Pierce Atwood session of 2023 – a half day workshop on negotiations.

    ACC Northeast would like to give a big THANK YOU to Pierce Atwood. The Maine in-house legal community has enjoyed the opportunity to come together to learn practical skills for in-house counsel, earn CLE, and network with our fellow attorneys.

    2023-12-01 Maine Negotiations Program-GRAPHICA

    2023-10-19 Maine Financial Concepts Program-PHOTO


  • Recent Event Photos

    Want to see what you missed?  Visit our Photo Gallery page!

  • Upcoming Events

    Mark Your Calendar and Plan to Attend!


    ACC Northeast offers a variety of programs, webinars, and events designed for our members' unique interests.  Keep your eye on the Chapter Events calendar on the website and be sure to participate in a few or ALL of the Chapter Programs happening in 2023.

  • Chapter Sponsors

    2023 NE Sponsors for Newsletter as of 11-15

2023 Third Quarter Newsletter

  • President's Letter

    Stephanie Lambert Headshot-September 2023

    Dear ACC Northeast Chapter Members and Friends,

    I have recently seen several headlines claiming the role of in-house counsel has evolved. Experts claim we now have a seat at the business table.  We are considered strategic partners to the business.  The corresponding articles then set out and list all the skills needed to succeed in this new world order for in-house counsel--skills apparently not taught in law school.  The coveted in-house role, according to these experts, now requires not only technical legal knowledge but also the ability to manage resources, create a deck, communicate legal analysis only in bullets, manage a budget, learn the business and so on.  The so-called soft skills, such as listening, empathy, time management, and teamwork, for example, are also highly valued now more than ever.

    Some law schools have evolved and are teaching these new types of skills.  (Not sure how they teach empathy, but that’s for another day.) Certainly, the legal interns lately are getting more impressive.  But for those of us who have not seen the inside of a courtroom, never mind a law class, in a while how are we to develop these skills that are so in-demand right now?  And how does the law school graduate without such training qualify for and succeed in such a role?

    For answers to these questions, you’ve come to the right place.  Well, not me, but the ACC.  This community is the one community that can demonstrate how one can win at fulfilling the in-house role.  It is, after all, the only organization designed by in-house counsel, for in-house counsel®.  With more than 45,000 in-house legal professionals in 85 countries, ACC is well-positioned with access to experts, thought leaders, and a myriad of other resources.  In fact, the membership includes over 10,000 organizations, including an astonishing representation from 99% of Fortune 100 companies.  There are 8,500 CLOs who are members. That’s a lot of legal leaders.

    The numbers are impressive, but let’s look behind the numbers at the personal side.  The side that tells the real story.  There are educational programs, roundtable discussions, and workshops organized by substantive networks and chapters around the world designed to bring the critical subjects to your desktop or to a meeting venue near you. There are written resources to educate and persuade. Networking opportunities abound, too, including leadership roles providing extracurricular on-the-job experiences to complement your day job.  All curated to address the timely issues facing companies today.

    Even our Northeast Chapter community (one of the largest chapters at the ACC) is thriving with the latest membership number including over 1,400 members, representing over 6% growth since I took over as president two years ago.  Our Chapter has not seen this level of membership in several years nor has it seen the level of sponsor engagement we have seen this past year.  The ACC community is an engaged and robust one offering not only access to experts globally but strong local networks for in-house counsel to engage in and grow.

    I know all about this community because I’ve been deeply involved with the ACC for well over a decade.  I attribute much of my career progression to skills I have honed and knowledge I have gained through this involvement, like leading this chapter as its president for two years.  I would encourage you too to take advantage of everything the ACC has to offer to grow your skills.  This community addresses the evolving nature of the job of in-house counsel every day.  You will up your game, so to speak, as a result, and what you learned in law school will grow to the next level.

    I am on the ACC soap box today because I am coming to the bittersweet moment where my term as president of the ACC Northeast Chapter is coming to an end.  I will soon turn over the leadership reins.  Like all leaders I hope I have made some impact over these last two years such that I have left the organization better than when I found it. The time never seems long enough, but then at the same time, it seems too long. I do believe a leader should be judged by the impact they have directly on the people in that organization.  It’s not about attendance rates or lovely lawn parties, really.  It’s about helping our members, no matter the role, background, law school, or skillset, realize their dreams. Dreams of landing that next coveted in-house role or even just the recognition that your skills are valuable to the business. The ACC community has helped me fulfill my career dreams, and I hope the efforts of our Chapter over these past two years have had an impact on your career, too. I encourage you to grow your involvement in the ACC Northeast Chapter.  We will be better with your involvement, and you will also benefit.

    Thank you to my colleagues on the Board for trusting my leadership and to all of you for the opportunity to lead this great organization.  I want to especially thank our executive director, Julie Duffy, for her efforts managing, well, literally everything. Our job running the chapter would be nearly impossible without her.  I hope to see you at a Chapter event soon.


    Stephanie Lambert

    President, ACC Northeast Chapter, 2021-2023

  • Member Volunteer Spotlight

    Rashima Shukla Headshot-September 2023

    FOCUS recently sat down with Rashima Shukla, Senior Staff Counsel at PTC, a large global computer software and services company headquartered in Boston. Rashima is an active member of ACC Northeast, volunteers on the DEI Committee, and has been participating in our inaugural NextGen Peer Connect Program. Find out a bit more about Rashima, her role at PTC, and how she got involved with ACC Northeast.

    Please tell us a little bit about your company and your role there. What are your responsibilities and what does a typical day look like?

    I serve as Senior Staff Counsel on the legal team at PTC, a large global computer software and services company headquartered in Boston. PTC’s software suite is used by some of the world's most innovative manufacturers, including in the federal aerospace and defense (FA&D), automotive, industrial machinery, life sciences, and consumer products industries. My role primarily serves the Americas business support function, with a focus on PTC’s Federal Aerospace and Defense (FA&D) group. This entails negotiating a variety of deals in support of the defense sector, including with the U.S. Department of Defense and multinational defense contractors.

    More recently, I have been providing a legal perspective within PTC on the rapidly evolving topic of artificial intelligence (AI), helping to shape governance and assess the potential risks and rewards of AI.

    What was your career path? What drove you to become a lawyer? How did you get to where you are?

    After graduating from law school, I joined the in-house team of a small, privately-held technology company that provides innovative GPS and navigation technology to the U.S Government. As part of a small business, in-house attorneys often wear several hats, and it was a good opportunity to get involved with a broad array of matters and take on significant responsibility early on. I spent around ten years there before starting my current role at PTC under three years ago to take on a new set of exciting challenges.

    As for what drove me to become a lawyer, I’m the first lawyer in my family, and growing up as a second-generation American, I was often asked by my parents to help with consumer issues or other matters - unfortunately, they sometimes found that a Boston accent got more traction than an Indian accent. This gave me a firsthand appreciation for the importance of being able to advocate for a position and navigate sometimes complex terms.

    How did you hear about ACC Northeast? What made you excited to get involved in the ACC Northeast, and how has your experience been participating in the ACC Northeast Peer Connect program?

    I heard about ACC Northeast through colleagues in the legal department, as well as colleagues who are members and/or serve on the Board. Thereafter, I began attending interesting panels, social events, and joined the DEI committee.

    The ACC Northeast chapter has been a great resource for career development, networking, and furthering my commitment to diversity in the law. With respect to career development, the opportunity to hone leadership skills by participating in the ACC Northeast Peer Connect program has been a fantastic experience. The program includes both in-person and virtual sessions designed to connect members from areas companies. In addition to hearing from experienced ACC attorneys who have led successful legal teams, in each session, participants collaborate on effective approaches to various hypotheticals that are similar to situations faced by in-house attorneys.

    What are your interests and hobbies outside of work? What do you do to decompress and relax?

    Tennis, being the fun aunt to my little nieces and nephews, and searching for the best tacos in Boston!

    Do you have any advice for members, either professionally or personally? This can be advice for those just starting in their careers, or tips for experienced lawyers.

    I have found that getting actively involved in leadership roles within area bar associations and groups can be very rewarding, both personally and professionally. By serving as past-president of a local affinity bar association (SABA GB, South Asian Bar Association of Greater Boston), I’ve made close friends and developed an incredible network of hundreds of supportive colleagues in the area legal community. Joining the DEI committee of the ACC Northeast chapter meant instantly connecting with new colleagues as well, so if the opportunity to serve in a leadership role arises, I’d recommend taking it.

  • Pro Bono Spotlight: HomeStart

    HomeStart Logo

    HomeStart's goal is to end and prevent homelessness through targeted one-on-one interventions with low-income at-risk individuals and families residing throughout Greater Boston. HomeStart provides comprehensive services to those at all stages of homelessness and housing crisis, moving people from shelter into permanent housing, providing housing retention and stabilization services to those who are formerly homeless and have been recently housed and preventing homelessness among households on the verge of eviction.

    Since its start, HomeStart has helped more than 14,000 people who were experiencing homelessness to find and move into a safe, stable place of their own and prevented more than 4,000 low-income households from being evicted– with 95% of those households remaining securely housed even 48 months after the intervention.

    Thanks to groups like the Association of Corporate Counsel and Day Pitney, LLP HomeStart has been able to give clients duffel bags of housewarming home essentials to help turn their bare-bones new apartment into a home.

    HomeStart is proud to have Housing Search advocates working out of all the adult emergency shelter sites in Boston and Cambridge. Just recently we took a car full of Welcome Home Packages to Rosie's Place, to give to women who have moved into a place of their own with the help of their HomeStart advocate.

    To support HomeStart with a donation, visit or for more ways to get involved, visit or reach out to Carrie Neff, Director of Community Engagement at | (857) 415-2242.

    Rosie's Place Photo

  • Spotlight On: Communications Committee

    The Communications Committee focuses on information sharing within the ACC Northeast chapter through the recently redesigned quarterly newsletter, the Around-the-In-House podcasts, and social media channels.  Its goals are to foster more interest in programs, create access to ACC Northeast Board members, and act as an informational resource for members.

    The quarterly newsletter is the one source for a review of the Chapter’s past activities, upcoming programs, and specialized articles of interest to the membership.  The Newsletter offers members an opportunity to learn about Chapter activities firsthand, plan relevant content for members, and publish short articles from time to time.

    Now well into its second season, Around-the In-House podcasts feature conversations with ACC Northeast members and highlights the diverse range of experiences within our community.  Members share their career journey, memorable experiences with ACC, and helpful knowledge that they have developed.  For more information, check out this issue’s Board Recommendations.
    ACC Northeast’s social media channels are the most active at the ACC, offering members an opportunity to create timely content for channel followers.  ACC Northeast’s LinkedIn page shares news of upcoming events, photos, and other announcements relevant to ACC Northeast members. Our YouTube page contains videos of interviews and other content from members and sponsors. Be sure to follow these accounts to stay up to date!
    If you are interested in volunteering with the Communications Committee, please reach out to Julie Duffy at

  • The Return of Summerfest!

    SummerFest Grouup Photo

    For the first time since the pandemic, Summerfest was back in full swing on July 20, 2023 at the Moakley Courthouse in Boston. Despite the crazy weather the Northeast has experienced this summer, we could not have asked for a more beautiful Boston summer evening. ACC NE members mixed and mingled with the Board of Directors and ACC NE sponsors, enjoying signature cocktails – I can personally vouch for the hibiscus margarita - and a wide array of delicious food. My favorites were the crab cake sliders and quinoa tacos!

    The highlight of the evening was a speech by the Massachusetts Attorney General Andrea Joy Campbell. AG Campbell highlighted the importance of fostering connections with legal leaders in our communities--whether at firms, in government, or in the private sector--and she talked about her own path to becoming the first woman of color elected to statewide office in Massachusetts--an incredibly inspiring story! After her remarks, Ms. Campbell circulated to meet the members and enjoy the food along with the delicious New England-themed desserts, which represented a delicacy which represented each of our member states:

    Maine – Maine Blueberry Cheesecake

    Massachusetts – White Chocolate Cranberry Cookie

    New Hampshire – Mini Apple Cider Donut

    Vermont- Strawberry Rhubarb Pie in a Jar

    Rhode Island – Dells Frozen Lemonade

    As the sun began to set over the Boston harbor, the caterers began to pack up and members hesitantly began to leave, but the overwhelming consensus was that Summerfest 2023 was a hit, and we hopefully don’t have to put it on pause again. If you were able to join us, thank you, and as always, a HUGE thanks to our sponsors. See you all next summer!

    MA AG Andrea Joy Campbell-vertical


    SummerFest Photo 3

  • Board Recommendations: Around-the-In-House Podcast

    ATIH-Season 2-Episode 7 with Raquel Webster

    Take a Trip “Around the In-House!”

    If you haven’t had a chance to catch an episode of the ACC Northeast’s own podcast Around the In-House you’re missing out. I highly recommend this fabulous production. From humble beginnings as a temporary Covid-inspired experiment, it has quickly become one of the jewels of the ACC Northeast’s membership offerings. As far as I am aware, there is nothing like it across all the ACC’s many chapters.

    Hosts Alex Aferiat and Ruchi Sisodia Shah are a dynamic duo – both inquisitive and earnest in their craft. The casual format of the show allows Alex and Ruchi to drive the conversation from the back seats while placing their guests at the front of the spotlight – as it should be.

    And the guests are just plain impressive. No matter where they are in their individual career paths, every guest shares valuable perspectives and insights. There are a three themes that have emerged over the many episodes from guests across varied industries and areas of expertise: 1) everyone’s path is different and the traditional highway from firm to in-house is more of a winding road over hill and dale;  2) our members have benefited greatly from mentors and our Chapter presents a great opportunity for both mentors and mentees; and 3) our membership is full of talented in-house practitioners who volunteer their talents engaging with many of society’s greatest challenges -- we’re keeping good company, folks.

    After hearing an episode, I’m always motivated to get out and attend an upcoming Chapter event as the podcast continues to impress upon me how many interesting members we have in our organization and just how lucky we are to have access to such a strong network.  

    Enjoy your trip Around the In-House!

  • Sponsor Feature: How to Protect Your Company in the New World of AI

    Bowditch 2023 Attorneys Logo



    How to Protect Your Company in the New World of AI

    By Amy Morrissey, Partner at Bowditch

    The new technology advancement using artificial intelligence ("AI"), ChatGPT (Chat Generative Pre-Trained Transformer) is a computer model that uses machine learning to generate relevant responses that mimic human-like conversations.  According to a February 2023 analysis by Swiss Bank UBS, ChatGPT is the fastest-growing app of all time.  The analysis estimates that ChatGPT had 100 million active users in January 2022, only two months after its launch.  For comparison, it took nine months for TikTok to reach 100 million users.  With its widespread use, corporate counsel should be aware of the risks of using of AI and ensure that those risks are mitigated as much as possible for the company.

    One concern is that ChatGPT (and similar machine learning platforms) is still in its infancy.  Although there are millions of users, ChatGPT launched less than a year ago and through its own admission, is still in the testing phase.  There is simply not enough data to ensure its accuracy.  Indeed, the data in the base model does not consider data prior to 2021 (paying subscribers have the ability to use real-time data via a Bing plug-in) and also does not have access to real-time information or knowledge beyond its training data.  This leads to inaccurate results.

    Privacy and confidentiality in using ChatGPT are also concerns.  ChatGPT records every conversation and shares that information with other companies and its AI trainers.  When an employee types confidential information into the dialog box, it’s recorded and saved on ChatGPT’s servers.  If that data contained a trade secret of the company or personal information of another employee, the information is now used in new ChatGPT searches, exposing the company to data privacy breaches.  For this reason, companies such as Amazon and Apple have largely restricted employee use of ChatGPT.

    ChatGPT also creates ethical issues, such as bias.  Language models like ChatGPT are trained on vast amounts of data, which can inadvertently introduce prejudice in the training data.  OpenAI, the owner of ChatGPT, states on its website, “[w]hile we have safeguards in place, the system may occasionally generate incorrect or misleading information and produce offensive or biased content” (emphasis added).  Such biases, if relied upon, could lead to discrimination claims within an organization.

    The last major concern is data security.  ChatGPT can be exploited by malicious actors to develop programs and platforms that mimic others.  These actors can also use the chatbot to create applications meant to install malware on users' devices.  Additionally, phishing emails become harder to notice because ChatGPT can mimic a person.  This puts companies at greater risk for cyber-attacks.

    While corporate counsel cannot eliminate these risks within a company, the risks can be mitigated by putting in place some processes and procedures.  

    1. Corporate counsel should draft polices about acceptable use of ChatGPT.  These policies should include internal use and external use.  Think of this similar to corporate policies around internet usage.  Among other things, the policy should include language about validating the ChatGPT data and using confidential information.
    2. Companies should invest in comprehensive training and awareness programs to educate employees about the responsible and secure use of AI tools like ChatGPT.  This training should cover topics such as data protection, confidentiality, privacy best practices, and the potential risks associated with AI-powered technologies.
    3. Make sure IT has additional safeguards in place and routinely audits such safeguards.  For example, some companies have created a custom pop-up notice about security each time an employee uses an AI platform.  By doing so, security teams can mitigate these risks and help safeguard against potential security breaches.

    These three steps can help corporate counsel protect its company from misuse of ChatGPT.

  • Save the Date: Annual Meeting Get-Together

    2023 Annual Meeting Party Save-the-Date

  • Upcoming Events

    Mark Your Calendar and Plan to Attend!


    ACC Northeast offers a variety of programs, webinars, and events designed for our members' unique interests.  Keep your eye on the Chapter Events calendar on the website and be sure to participate in a few or ALL of the Chapter Programs happening in 2023.

  • Chapter Sponsors

    2023 NE Sponsors for Newsletter as of 7-20

2023 Second Quarter Newsletter

  • President's Letter

    Lambert, Stephanie-FULL HEADSHOT 320x448-

    Dear ACC Northeast Chapter Members and Friends,

    I would not be where I am sitting today if it were not for the ACC.  I mean, literally, I would not be physically located in this very spot.  I am currently in an office as a member of the NetScout Legal Department only because I met the General Counsel when I volunteered twelve years ago to work on a committee at the ACC.  At the time, I had no idea the career path that would take me from there to here.  That’s the uncertainty we all encounter while networking: will the connection I make today be meaningful at some point tomorrow?  Is networking worth the effort? Based on my past how could I tell you it is not?!

    Some consider networking uncomfortable, a chore, a necessary evil that takes us out of our comfort zone. Others thrive on meeting new people and can be considered great connectors. For those of us more on the introverted side, it can even be exhausting at times.  Nevertheless, we all persist with the hope that today’s efforts will yield a meaningful connection whatever and whenever that may be.  We all know the pandemic put a halt to in-person networking, which seemingly set us all back, some back into our introverted shells and out of practice.  With the recent resurgence of in-person events, however, it is safe to say that in-person gatherings have made a resurgence and networking is now stronger than ever. It’s time for all of us to come out of our shells and make up for lost time.

    The ACC Northeast Chapter is excited to invest in this resurgence. In response to the feedback from our member survey and follow up “listening tours,” we have and will continue to host interesting gatherings to foster member networking. We do this recognizing that the connections made today do indeed present future opportunities for all of us.  Given the value in-person networking presents to each of us and our employers, I would like to highlight some of our recent events, held in various locations throughout the Chapter, and provide a peek into what’s coming next.

    In late April, our DEI Committee was pleased to host, along with our sponsor Goodwin, a gathering of affinity bar associations.  Feedback from attendees was extremely positive, particularly on the networking aspect of the program. “It really encouraged people to network and share their current goals, struggles, and achievements,” said one enthusiastic participant. How good is that?!  Due to the resounding success of this gathering, we hope to hold another again soon. 

    In May, Thomson Reuters hosted a roundtable conversation in Cambridge on managing legal priorities. Not to be outdone, Pierce Atwood, our Maine sponsor, completed the second of a four-part series of in-person programming in Portland on the top three things in-house counsel need to know. Also, halfway through a three-part in-person program, Armstrong Teasdale hosted us in Boston for various GC hot topics such as legal department impact, layoffs, and compliance, with data protection and privacy planned for September. Later this month we begin the first peer-to-peer development program for Next Gen in house lawyers in Burlington, designed to foster networking among the next generation of legal department leaders.  And, of course, Summerfest will be back with a roar in July!  The annual summertime gathering of law firm and legal department leaders is making a comeback after several years hiatus due to the COVID impact. Networking outside on a summer evening in July in the city doesn’t get any better!

    As you can see, we have hosted and planned a mix of new and returning in person events because these present opportunities for each of us to get back on track making meaningful connections in our profession. Stay tuned to future communications via LinkedIn and email, or simply head to our website, for additional in-person networking opportunities in the fall. I, for one, look forward to getting back on my feet (literally again!) meeting and networking since, well, past is really prologue for me.  See you soon!

    I would like to take the opportunity to thank the members who took time to share their thoughts with our leadership through the member survey and listening sessions.  Special thanks also to James Coughlin, Mitch Applebaum, Gemma Dreher, Len Ho, Kathleen Patton, Ruchi Shah, Larry Weiss and Patrick Wu for their contributions to the survey or listening sessions. We are better because of your input and involvement.


    Stephanie Lambert

    President, ACC Northeast Chapter, 2021-2023

  • Member Volunteer Spotlight

    Member Spotlight - Ben Wojcik Headshot

    FOCUS recently sat down with Benjamin Wojcik, Director, Head of Litigation at Covetrus, a global animal-health/technology company based in Portland, Maine. Benjamin is an active member of ACC-Northeast and volunteers on the Programs Committee.

    Please tell us a little bit about your company and your role there. What are your responsibilities and what does a typical day look like?

    I am Head of Litigation at Covetrus. While my role involves management of all aspects of active litigation, I am also responsible for advising various business units on ways to avoid or resolve disputes before reaching that stage. In addition, I regularly advise on how to handle various other types of legal processes (i.e. – court orders, subpoenas, garnishments, etc.). 

    What was your career path? What drove you to become a lawyer? How did you get to where you are?

    Like many before me, a family member led me to recognize law as my calling. That was my father, whose selflessness and willingness to apply intellect toward serving the professional needs of others was (and still is) highly motivating. I was fortunate to have practiced law with him for over three years in a regional law firm setting, where I was exposed to a lot early on. My focuses there were both business and real estate transactions, along with commercial litigation. I subsequently spent another five years at a prominent international law firm, where I was responsible for representing some of the world’s largest banks and lending institutions in financial services litigation. My time in private practice was preceded by a judicial clerkship in Washington, D.C. I left private practice around four and a half years ago to pursue a career as a corporate in-house attorney, where I remain today.

    How did you hear about ACC-Northeast? Can you describe your experience with ACC-Northeast? What made you excited to get involved in the ACC-Northeast?

    I became aware of ACC-Northeast through legal department colleagues who either were or had been members. The Northeast Chapter has been a fantastic source for things like networking, continuing education, tools for legal department development, as well as opportunities to grow professionally outside of traditional responsibilities associated with one’s day job. Fellow ACC member and ACC-Northeast Board Member, Kelly Whetstone helped pique my interest in getting more involved with the ACC through service on the Northeast Chapter’s Programs Committee.

    What are your interests and hobbies outside of work? What do you do to decompress and relax?

    Golf, distance running, and skiing.

    Do you have any advice you have for members, either professionally or personally? This can be advice for those just starting in their careers, or tips for experienced lawyers.

    Be open to different opportunities to learn what you have a passion for, or don’t. And when there doesn’t seem to be a ton available, don’t wait for one to come to you. Take action and don’t be afraid to create!

    Final question: What’s something that you are excited about this summer or later this year?

    Taking in all that summer in New England has to offer with my family. And probably the Mount Desert Island Marathon in October.

    Member Spotlight - Ben Wojcik Candid


  • Pro Bono Spotlight: Project Citizenship

    Pro Bono Spotlight - Project Citizenship Icon

    Project Citizenship is a non-profit legal services agency based in Boston, MA, that provides free, high-quality legal services to assist eligible lawful permanent residents (green card holders) apply for U.S. citizenship. Our mission is to increase the naturalization rate across New England with a focus on the most vulnerable populations. Engaging volunteers in naturalization work allows us to scale up and keep services free for all: Since founding at the end of 2014, we have helped over 11,200 immigrants apply for citizenship!

    Volunteer opportunities are available for both non-attorneys and attorneys. Join us at in-person and virtual citizenship workshops to assist pre-screened clients with their applications, as an interpreter for eligibility intake, or as a representative at naturalization interviews for applicants with disabilities. We carry malpractice insurance for volunteers; volunteers are neither named as preparers nor representatives. Required training, support materials, and real-time mentoring provided. Learn more about our upcoming volunteer opportunities on our website and contact with questions.

  • Committee Spotlight on Next Gen Featuring Grant Peer-to-Peer Event

    ACC-Northeast Launches Next Gen Leadership Development Program.

    A special, five-part leadership development program for participating ACC-Northeast members and hosted by the Next Gen Committee kicks off this summer. The Peer Connect Next Gen Leadership Development Series (the “Program”) consists of 5 separate group sessions focused on key leadership skills and concepts for in-house counsel. Geared toward new and aspiring managers, the Program will cover essential topics in leadership, including influencing skills, strategic agility, decision-making, team building and change management, leading in a global environment, and diversity, equity, and inclusion matters. The Program begins with an in-person kick off session in June, continues with three virtual sessions throughout the summer, and concludes with an in-person capstone session in the fall. In addition to the group leadership sessions, participants will have mentorship opportunities with senior ACC-Northeast Members to discuss their own personal aspirations and expand their professional networks.

    The ACC-Northeast Next Genc Committee provides networking and camaraderie among the next generation of in-house attorneys in the greater Boston area. The target demographic for the NextGen Committee is lawyers who have practiced in an in-house setting for ten years or less, but events are open to all ACC Northeast members. This Committee allows lawyers new to in-house to connect with others setting out on the in-house journey at the same time.

  • Board Reading/Listening Recommendations: The Legal Toolkit Podcast

    Board Recommendations - Legal Toolkit Podcast

    As the Bruins and Celtics recently learned in their respective playoff losses, failing to adapt to changing circumstances can have disastrous consequences. The same is true for legal departments that fail to embrace advances in technology. In-house lawyers who want to stay ahead of the curve and avoid being left behind should listen to the best legal technology podcast: The Legal Toolkit.

    Hosted by legal technology expert and entrepreneur, Jared Correia, The Legal Toolkit is a must-listen for in-house lawyers who want to stay informed about the latest developments in legal tech. The podcast features interviews with leading legal tech innovators, entrepreneurs, and investors, providing listeners with insights into the latest trends and developments in the industry.

    One of the reasons why The Legal Toolkit is so valuable is that it covers a wide range of topics. From artificial intelligence and blockchain to e-discovery and cybersecurity, the podcast explores all aspects of legal technology. This breadth of coverage ensures that listeners are exposed to a diverse range of ideas and perspectives, helping them to stay informed about the latest developments in the industry.

    Another reason why The Legal Toolkit is so valuable is that it features interviews with some of the most influential figures in the legal tech world. Guests on the podcast have included the likes of Richard Susskind, the world-renowned legal futurist, and Mark Cohen, the CEO of Legal Mosaic and a leading commentator on the legal industry. These interviews provide listeners with unique insights into the minds of the people who are shaping the future of the legal industry.

    In addition to its informative content, The Legal Toolkit is also highly engaging. Jared Correia is an excellent host, and his interviews are always lively and engaging. He has a knack for asking insightful questions that get to the heart of the issues, and his guests are always forthcoming with their answers. This makes for a podcast that is both informative and entertaining.

    One real-life example of a law department utilizing a technology discussed on The Legal Toolkit is the use of contract management software. In a recent episode, Jared Correia interviewed the CEO of a leading contract management software company. The interview provided listeners with insights into the benefits of using contract management software, including increased efficiency, improved accuracy, and reduced risk. Following the episode, a law department at a large corporation implemented the software and saw significant improvements in their contract management process.

    Overall, The Legal Toolkit is the best legal technology podcast for in-house lawyers. Its wide-ranging coverage, high-profile guests, and engaging format make it an essential resource for every legal department.

    OpenAI API. ChatBox. May 24, 2023. Prompt by Sean Devlin: “Please write a 400- word article for the Northeast Chapter of the Association of Corporate Counsel newsletter about the best legal technology podcast and why member in-house lawyers should listen to it. Include references to Bruins and Celtics playoff performances. Include a real-life example of a law department utilizing a technology discussed on the podcast.”

  • Sponsor Feature Article: Armstrong Teasdale LLP

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    Understanding SupTech for a Regulated Organization’s Corporate Counsel

    By Peter McLaughlin and Ashfin Islam, Armstrong Teasdale LLP


    Regulators are facing a big data problem. Amid rapid innovation and steadily increasing rules across the regulated entity landscape, the number of firms, disclosures and complaints they must manage is increasing rapidly and is straining limited resources. SupTech, short for supervisory technology, is the application of emerging technologies to improve how a regulating or supervising agency in any sector – financial, export control, or data protection – conducts its regulatory duties. (Of course, the opposite side of SupTech is RegTech, which is focused on the use of tech to support an organization’s compliance efforts.) There are varying but similar definitions of SupTech. According to a World Bank Group report, SupTech “refers to the use of technology to facilitate and enhance supervisory processes from the perspective of supervisory authorities.” The Bank for International Settlements (BIS) defines SupTech as “the use of technology for regulatory, supervisory and oversight purposes.”

    SupTech is focused on maximizing efficiency by applying automation, optimizing operational and administrative operations, and digitizing the working tools and data. SupTech can be at its most robust when incorporating variants of artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML). At its most transformative, SupTech can unlock the potential of mountains of data, robust communication workflows and deep regulatory knowledge. At its best, it can serve as a springboard to more comprehensive risk oversight and better, more useful regulations.

    What is the leadership of a regulator to do with all of this? It is impossible to simply put aside the challenges of resources, but the status quo is untenable. Likewise, building a proprietary system that reflects the agency’s identified needs is nearly impossible – technology budgets simply aren’t large enough. That means the most logical way forward is usually to work with a third-party SupTech provider with the necessary skills and experience. This presents opportunities for both regulators and sophisticated technology providers, especially in the AI/ML space. Regulators will evaluate potential SupTech providers based on several important technological factors, including flexible, scalable technology; collaboration and communication; expert content; and their ability to manage people and change.

    First, the ideal SupTech is flexible and scalable. Solutions should be able to integrate and communicate with just about any other system or content in the supervisory workflow. The benefit of using AI/ML is to collect and analyze huge troves of data. One of the benefits of cloud infrastructure is enhancing computational performance so that regulators spend less time worrying about server capabilities and more time on core supervisory functions. However, some supervisory institutions, such as central banks, have reportedly been slow to adopt completely cloud-based infrastructures. One solution is a hybrid model where the cloud infrastructure works together with on-premise technology. The ability of a SupTech provider to be flexible and scalable with the needs of a supervisory entity is key to fostering adoption.

    To further encourage acceptance, SupTech should be able to collaborate and communicate with all varieties of systems or content in the supervisory workflow. SupTech must facilitate smooth communication and collaboration between the regulator and the regulated entity as well as requesting/complaining individuals at every step of the process. For example, ChatGPT and advanced large learning models (LLMs) empower chatbots to interact with regulated organizations and consumers more efficiently. Similarly, natural language processing technologies (another AI/ML flavor) can more efficiently absorb and audit documentation produced by an organization under review. These impressive tools and technologies are less helpful if the SupTech cannot talk directly and efficiently to the systems it seeks to supervise.

    Next, the system should offer prebuilt templates. If we take the example of data privacy space, this will mean configurable forms for the EU General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) or relevant national and state laws out-of-the-box. Further, an effective system will also have a strong ability to implement specific content and rules supplied by each adopting regulator. For example, the Irish Data Protection Authority (DPA), the Japanese DPA and the Australian DPA individually have their own supervisory processes and experiences, not to mention pain points. The incorporation or rather the translation of regulatory content into machine-readable regulations may enable a computer system to process those rules against an organization’s policies and procedures. The effectiveness of SupTech solutions is currently limited by both poor data quality and ineffective use of supervisory tools. SupTech solutions that place an emphasis on global and local expertise are able to more readily adapt their technologies to the required regulatory landscape. More emphasis placed on expert content will lead to better data quality and allow AI/ML capabilities to more accurately analyze data with respect to the regulatory scheme.

    Despite SupTech’s rapid evolution, the human element of regulator activities remains an important fulcrum. The complexity of rules and their interpretation is a part of this, but also the difficulty of managing change within any organization (even a government body) cannot be underemphasized. All of this cutting-edge technology must benefit the individual regulators and be managed as an assisting tool rather than a looming threat. And, any change to tools and systems requires some level of change in how people do their jobs. Therefore, the best SupTech will be developed with people in mind. While SupTech can assist with the supervisory functions, it is still people who are ultimately responsible for interpreting the AI/ML analysis into actionable enforcement. Ideally SupTech will keep in mind the human element, understanding that SupTech by itself is not the final end point of regulatory supervision.

    Despite the seemingly endless benefits of SupTech, all integrated AI/ML systems face similar and daunting issues. First, the increasing variety of interconnected systems that make SupTech so enticing also presents a huge data security risk. As systems and platforms become more connected, the scope of potential cyberattacks grows. There are more entry points for cyberattacks and more voluminous data for potential bad actors to target. This additionally leads to operational risk. Discrepancies in regulated institutions’ network infrastructure, whether it be non-conforming policies and procedures or data breaches, can have negative cascading effects on a supervisor’s activities. A breach in one of these interconnected systems can cripple entire regulatory ecosystems. Second, an issue that looms in the undercurrent of the AI/ML revolution presents significant risk. The programming and algorithms are still developed by humans with inherent bias and ignorance. The conclusions reached by SupTech are invariably colored by this risk. Massive amounts of data are processed, and the technology spits out a result. It is difficult for supervisors to understand the algorithm’s logic or decision-making process. This black-box issue leads to further legal issues. Supervisors who take action based on algorithmic decisions create a new set of problems. Any regulated institution should be able to request a full accounting of the decision-making process. If the SupTech’s engine is proprietary, it might become very difficult to audit these automated decisions. Finally, SupTech must take into account the number of legacy processes used by supervisors and regulated entities such that these processes can be linked to the SupTech solutions and ensure that there is no data loss. Otherwise, the SupTech’s decision-making process is compromised with an incomplete data set.

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