Casner & Edwards attorney, Edward V. Colbert III presented at the Boston Bar Association’s (BBA) Higher Education Legal Conference, March 15, 2018, at the Sheraton Boston Hotel.
This BBA conference brought together college and university in-house legal departments, administrators and firm practitioners to discuss the complex legal needs of higher education institutions in a changing world. Colbert was among a roster of experts who addressed the emerging legal issues impacting their institutions. Specifically, Colbert participated in the panel discussion, “Sexual Misconduct Investigations in the #Metoo Era,” which examined sexual misconduct investigations involving former administrators, faculty and students. Colbert and fellow panelists looked at these investigations, possible claims and resolutions from the perspectives of in-house counsel, independent external investigators, and lawyers who represent complainants and respondents.
Over the past two years, a team of attorneys at Casner & Edwards, led by former Massachusetts Attorney General Scott Harshbarger, has conducted several independent investigations of alleged sexual misconduct at private secondary schools in New England. Through its investigations and reports, the attorneys at Casner & Edwards have advised schools, their boards of trustees, and general counsels of the following fundamental principles and “best practices” when it comes to investigating sexual misconduct: (1) ensuring the investigation is truly independent, by hiring outside counsel with no prior affiliation with the school and no ongoing control by the school over its investigation; (2) respecting the rights of victims and witnesses to privacy, including confidentiality and anonymity; (3) recognizing the rights of the accused, by establishing standards by which their alleged actions are evaluated and reported upon; (4) assessing the actions and inactions by school leadership in response to sexual misconduct to hold leadership accountable; and (5) communicating with the school community in a timely manner about the investigation, its findings and steps for remediation going forward.
Colbert practices in the areas of Litigation and Special Investigations & Regulatory Compliance. He has extensive experience in civil and criminal litigation, and his practice often involves representing companies in complex business disputes. He has also represented school systems, along with their employees, teachers and students in various school-related legal disputes and investigations. Colbert is a former Assistant Attorney General for the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, former Chair of the Boston Bar Association Litigation Section, and currently serves on the Massachusetts Joint Bar Committee.
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