Mr. Bernardo has a varied practice where he counsels religious, corporate and governmental entities on a variety of complex matters having legal, ethical and community relations dimensions. He serves as the general counsel to the Roman Catholic Bishop of Providence and the charitable, educational and religious corporations organized and existing to conduct the temporal affairs of the Roman Catholic Church within the Diocese of Providence. Gene also practices in the sophisticated area of tax-exempt finance, and has been involved in the issuance of over $10 billion in tax-exempt securities in Rhode Island. In the past, he has counseled governmental leaders on critical issues of the day. He advised the Speaker of the House in connection with the legislative reapportionment and constitutionally-mandated downsizing in 2001, was part of the Governor’s legal team regarding the jurisdictional scope on lands in Charlestown pursuant to the Rhode Island Indian Claims Settlement Act, and he routinely advises the General Treasurer’s office on matters relating to public finance.
A life-long Rhode Islander, Gene has invested significantly in his community. When he’s not working, Gene enjoys positively influencing young lives. For over a decade, he was a mainstay of Rhode Islanders Sponsoring Education (RISE), an organization that provides scholarships and mentoring to children of incarcerated parents in an effort to break the intergenerational cycle of poverty, crime and addiction. Gene became one of the organization’s first mentors in 1998, and nurtured his student into RISE’s first college graduate in 2008, as profiled in The Providence Journal and by National Public Radio. He also enjoys coaching and teaching, and has led teams at the Portsmouth Abbey School, Bayview Academy and several youth lacrosse teams in his native South County.
- Moses Brown School 25th Reunion Alumni Achievement Award
- Selected annually since 2007 by his peers to be included in The Best Lawyers in America.
- Recognized by Rhode Islanders Sponsoring Education (RISE) for his 10 years of service as a mentor to children whose parents are incarcerated.
- Providence Business News 40 Under Forty Honoree (2006)
PRO BONO SERVICES
Represented Amici Curiae National Crime Victim Law Institute, Rhode Island Coalition Against Domestic Violence, National Coalition Against Domestic Violence, National Alliance of Sexual Assault Coalition and Pennsylvania Coalition Against Rape in successful appeal to Rhode Island Supreme Court reaffirming a private right to prosecution.
"U.S. Cracks Down on Religious Freedom", The Providence Journal (February 5, 2012)
"State Bankruptcy Law is Not the Answer", The Providence Journal (February 11, 2011)
"Incivility’s Growing Threat to Democracy", The Providence Journal (November 10, 2005)
"Confirmation Process In Danger", South County Independent (September 22, 2005)
"Sunday Night Magic", Quadangles – URI Alumni Magazine (Winter 2004)
"End the Politics With Judicial Nominations", Providence Business News (November 25, 2003)
"Confidentiality of Health Care Records and Subpoenas", Rhode Island Bar Journal (July/August 2002)
"Senators Would Weaken Judiciary", The Providence Journal (August 9, 2001)
"The Continuing Debate over Custodia Legis", Journal of Maritime and Commerce (January 1999)
"Unsportsmanlike Conduct: Title IX and Cohen v. Brown University", Roger Williams University Law Review (Vol. 2, No. 2, 1997)
REPRESENTATIVE SPEAKING ENGAGEMENTS
“Religious Liberty and the Example of St. Thomas More”, United States Conference of Catholic Bishops – Fortnight for Freedom, St. Thomas More Parish, Narragansett, RI (2012)
“Municipal Markets – The New Normal?”, 2008 Rhode Island General Treasurer’s Municipal Market Seminar, Speaker/Panelist
“Cases of the Year – Keynote Address”, Rhode Island League of Cities and Towns 2005 Annual Convention