Gene 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 $13 billion in tax-exempt securities in Rhode Island. In the past, he has counseled governmental leaders on critical issues of the day. He has advised the Speaker of the House in connection with legislative reapportionment, 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. Prior to beginning his practice, Gene served as a law clerk to The Honorable Ernest C. Torres, United States District Court.
Gene has provided pro bono services in his representation of the 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 as amici curiae in a successful appeal to the Rhode Island Supreme Court.
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, as profiled in The Providence Journal and by National Public Radio. He also enjoys coaching and teaching.
Roger Williams University School of Law, J.D., cum laude
University of Rhode Island, M.P.A., magna cum laude
Rollins College, B.A., Economics
U.S. District Court, Rhode Island
U.S. District Court, Massachusetts
First Circuit Court of Appeals
U.S. Supreme Court
Gene is a fifth generation Rhode Islander. His great-great-grandfather came to Providence in 1898 from Colli a Volturno, Italy. Amelio Bernardo left behind a thriving, successful stone cutting business in Italy because he was inspired by greater opportunity offered in a new America. Many in his native village shook their heads. A 1930 Providence Sunday Journal Magazine profile captured Amelio’s legendary determination, discipline, strong faith and penchant for saving — attributes that allowed him to build the Providence Granite Company and rise to the top of his calling. Three generations of Bernardo’s followed Amelio as chief executives of Providence Granite, but the business was sold when Gene was in college. He needed to carve his own career. After post-college stints in Washington, DC and New York City, working on political and media strategies for a variety of high-profile clients, Gene returned home for the opportunity presented by the launch of state’s first law school. Soon, he landed at Partridge Snow and Hahn LLP as a summer associate, and never left. Today, standing between the courthouse and PS&H’s Providence office is the 115-foot granite Providence War Memorial which connects each Bernardo generation. In the 1920’s, Gene’s great-great-grandfather (Amelio) and great grandfather (Eugene) were part of its construction. In the 1980’s, his grandfather (Raymond) and father (Brad) participated in its relocation as part of the Capital Center revitalization and moving of the Providence rivers. Early each morning, when Gene arrives at work, he glances at the monument and is reminded of his strong Rhode Island roots and his family’s core values.