Where can we find you on the weekends?
MB: As often as possible, you’ll find Margie, my wife, and me at our house on White Oak Pond in Holderness, NH. It’s a 100+ year old house that’s been in Margie’s family for almost 50 of those years. Beautiful setting in the middle of the Lakes Region. We always share the pond with loons, and sometimes with baby loons. When we aren’t there, you’ll often find us exploring Cambridge where we live, or crossing the Charles River to Boston. Cambridge was Boston’s first suburb, centuries ago. Both have so much to offer — Fenway Park, fall foliage, walking across the various bridges over the Charles, and more.
Any business tips for young professionals?
MB: Be true to yourself. Don’t give up your outside interests and personal life. Find one or more mentors and learn from them. Network. Find peers who are going through the profession at a similar stage as you, and travel through the profession with them, sharing the ups and downs, turning to each other for support.
Along with practicing law, you are also a well-known artist and have an obvious love for the piano and music. Would you say there is a relationship between law and art? How do the different professions correlate?
MB: There’s a strong relationship between law and art. My education and career in art has had a major impact on my practice of law — even though I’ve never practiced or been interested in practicing “art law.” Both litigators and artists communicate for a living. They must consider their audiences and how best to communicate with them, and, for both, creativity and planning is a vital part of that process. Once the planning is done, lawyers and artists both need to remain flexible. As Picasso said, “You have to have an idea of what you are going to do, but it should be a vague idea.” The best works of art aren’t made by a machine that reproduces an idea, but by open-minded artists who pay attention and, based on what they see, allow for changes from the original plans. The same is true for lawyers: remaining rigidly attached to an idea can lead to ignoring problems that emerge as that idea is put into play. Ultimately, creativity, planning and flexibility are essential to a career in the arts, and are hugely important attributes of a good lawyer. If you’d like to read more about this, I’ve written a blog about art and law that can be found on Legal Examiner.
What is your personal niche in the legal profession, and how do you stay motivated on a day-to-day basis?
MB: I have spent my entire career as an appellate attorney, and, while overseeing our firm’s appellate practice, I have also spent the past 10 years as the managing partner of Meehan, Boyle, Black & Bogdanow. Clients are a great motivating force. A few weeks before arguing Reckis v. Johnson & Johnson, 471 Mass. 272 (2015) in the Supreme Judicial Court, I visited with the amazing young woman at the heart of the case, Samantha Reckis. That was all I needed for motivation to win that appeal.
Your firm is involved in giving back to the community. Why do you think giving back is so important for IB members and trial attorneys?
MB: Our firm has loved our community service projects, particularly those that have been spearheaded by Injury Board. It’s a great way to help those in need, to work together as a team in a non-litigation context, and to show the public the human and humane face of lawyers and legal support professionals. Each of us also has individual ways in which we give back to the community, from involvement in the Equal Justice Coalition, to serving in soup kitchens, to bringing arts to the community, to volunteer work in churches and synagogues, and many other public service activities.
You’ve been a member of The Injury Board for several years now. What are your biggest takeaways from your membership thus far?
MB: I’m so happy that our firm joined Injury Board. The people — both IB members and IB staff — are outstanding. I’ve made life-long friends, as well as great professional connections. I’ve learned how important one-on-one relationships are — we all know their importance personally, but they are also critical to professional growth and success, and Injury Board recognizes and nurtures that. There is a substantial difference between leaving a business card with someone after a 30-second conversation at a reception and actually developing a sincere relationship with someone over an extended period of time. The latter reaps many personal and professional benefits. I’ve also learned a lot about the interface of the legal profession and social media, and that has greatly impacted how my law firm uses social media.