For clients facing the complexities of new projects or unexpected conflicts, Ellen Lubell’s highest priority is to demystify the legal issues and develop intuitive, practical solutions. Ellen has 35 years of experience working with clients ranging from colleges, other nonprofit organizations and publishers, to small businesses, individual writers, artists and faculty members. With a focus on nonprofit law and copyright, she recognizes the importance of listening carefully to clients, asking questions to deepen understanding, and working collaboratively to develop practical solutions. When clients’ legal challenges involve conflict, Ellen helps them preserve relationships that are valuable and prudently end those that are not.
Ellen draws from a background as a health lawyer at the Boston firm of Goulston & Storrs, Counsel for Research & Technology Transfer at UMass Medical Center, and General Counsel at Education Development Center. She started her own firm in 2006, representing corporate and individual clients on transactional matters and serving as general counsel to numerous nonprofits. She joined KCL in 2020.
Ellen provides legal services that encompass the full lifecycle of charities and other nonprofit organizations. From obtaining “501(c)(3)” tax exempt status, to advising on governance, regulatory compliance, fundraising and overall risk management, she has the depth of experience required to assist a wide range of nonprofit boards and managers. For nonprofits funded through government grants and contracts, Ellen helps navigate the complex regulations that govern expenditures, reporting and subcontracting arrangements.
Ellen also guides her nonprofit clients in developing business strategies, utilizing her knowledge of regulatory compliance to protect them from missteps that could jeopardize their tax-exempt status. She negotiates transactions, many involving intellectual property licensing. Her approach is not just to win points, but to achieve results in which both parties feel they’ve gotten a fair deal and mutual trust increases.
- Successfully petitioned the IRS to reinstate the tax-exempt status of a large foundation and to waive over $1,000,000 in penalties and fees.
- Represented a university-based museum in a collaboration to create a synthetic replica of an ancient statue and to arrange for a traveling exhibition of the replica.
- Serve as General Counsel to a scientific society dedicated to promoting the growth, use and understanding of metabolomics in the life sciences.
- Serve as General Counsel to a rare disease research organization working to accelerate the development of and access to new treatments.
- Advised start-up non-partisan voter education organization on regulatory compliance, internal employee and intellectual property policies, and risk management.
Ellen’s intellectual property expertise – primarily in copyright – encompasses traditional print and photographic media, as well as digital works, multimedia and software. She advises individuals, nonprofits and business clients seeking to protect their materials and make them more widely accessible to the public. She also provides guidance in the appropriate use of materials created by others and negotiates licensing and distribution agreements.
Nonprofit organizations may distribute and sell their copyrightable works or permit use of their trademarks for a variety of purposes, but they need to be attentive to usages that may impact their tax exempt status or funding. Ellen helps them recognize the potential problems that may arise for the many nonprofits whose key assets are intellectual property.
For libraries, museums and other institutional clients seeking to preserve their collections and make them more widely accessible to the public, Ellen has expertise in digitization and licensing agreements and has advised frequently on collaborations involving multiple institutions.
- Negotiated publishing agreements for numerous prominent academic journals in the life sciences, history, literature, business and religion.
- Negotiated a cross-licensing agreement between a healthcare institution and a departing clinician for continued use of the clinician’s treatment program and associated teaching materials.
- Advised a library with a rare books collection in negotiations with a digitization company to convert the library’s audiotape collection into digital format for purposes of preservation and access.
- Negotiated a collaboration among a group of museums to create a permanent digital archive of the text and images of cuneiform tablets held in private and public collections.
- Advised a business providing augmented reality tour designs for cultural sites on licensing its proprietary suite of technologies.
- Negotiated agreements on behalf of several prominent attorneys for an American Bar Association oral history project.
Ellen has contributed her resources and expertise to organizations working to advance prison education, civil liberties, human rights, mental health, the reduction of gun violence, and legal education. These have included:
- Boston Bar Association, Exempt Organizations Section, Co-Chair of Fundamentals Program, 2018-present
- Prison Book Program, Pro bono general counsel, 2019-2020
- Forge Foundation, Pro bono general counsel, 2014-2020
- Safe Space Radio, Pro bono general counsel, 2015-2020
- American Civil Liberties Union of Massachusetts, Board member, 2010-2016
- Banyan Project, Pro bono general counsel, 2014-2016
- Pro bono representation of a Guantanamo detainee, 2006-2010
Honors and Awards
- Massachusetts Bar Association, 2009 Access to Justice Pro Bono Award for Law Firms
- Anti-Defamation League of New England, 2008 Honorable David A. Rose Civil Rights Award
- Newton Human Rights Commission, 2008 Human Rights Award
- Boston Bar Association, 2007 President’s Award
- National Legal Aid & Defender Association, 2007 Beacon of Justice Award
- Southern Center for Human Rights, 2007 Frederick Douglass Award
- Harvard Law School 1083 Human Rights Fellowship
- Phi Beta Kappa, 1981
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