Matthew McTygue is the Partner-in-Charge of the Boston office of Edwards Wildman Palmer, as well as partner in the Business Law Department and Co-chair of the Debt Finance and Capital Markets Group. He specializes in debt finance and private equity transactions in a variety of industries. Matt is a member of the Firm’s advisory committee and the Boston office diversity and pro bono committees. He also serves as Co-Chair of the BBA’S Summer Jobs Program Committee and is also a Fellow of the Boston Bar Foundation and the Massachusetts Bar Foundation. He has served on the boards of directors and fundraising committees of several local non-profit organizations.
1. You were named Partner-in-Charge at Edwards Wildman early last year; since then, how have you tried to guide the firm’s expansion?
As partner-in-charge of our Boston office, I am working hard at enhancing the firm’s profile in the Boston community, exploring new opportunities for business development, and fostering a supportive and inclusive work environment. Part of this has included undertaking and creating a new series of initiatives. A few of them were my idea, but I’ll admit I’m stealing maybe 80 percent of the ideas from other people. I’ve spent time talking to people about what they care about, and to our professional development director about what we should be doing and how we can help people. It’s been a cooperative process and it’s had some great results. For example, we formed a Boston-based, cross-departmental business development committee to focus on business development initiatives within the greater Boston area. So far, our committee has focused on expanding our current client relationships to additional practice areas and capabilities within our firm. We’re also taking a more proactive approach with lateral recruiting and revitalizing the alumni program, because former colleagues are both potential clients and potential laterals. There’s also a series of brown bag lunches with guests lecturers we’ve hosted to promote a collegial office culture.
A huge aspect of expanding Edwards Wildman’s involvement in the City of Boston has been successfully encouraging lawyers to become more actively engaged and take on leadership positions. In particular, we’re looking to get more women and diverse candidates into positions of leadership. When we see that there are awards or nominations into the general community, we meet to brainstorm about who to put up for it. Programs like the Greater Boston Chamber of Commerce’s Executive Leadership Institute and its other leadership programs, LeadBoston, and the BBA’s Public Interest Leadership Program (PILP) all represent identified opportunities to get someone’s name out there or have someone participate in a leadership position. Also, by recognizing and celebrating our leaders for their accomplishments both internally and outside the organization, we are driving greater participation within the firm. For example, this year we had six people raising their hands to apply for PILP – last year, we had one. By driving home that this is important to the firm, it’s making people feel that it’s easier for them to do it; I believe that people would be more willing to take leadership positions if they feel they have that support.
2. Within the firm, you have also served as chair of the Boston office diversity committee and, over the past year, have led public service efforts within the firm. Are these longstanding efforts of Edwards Wildman that you are carrying on? What do you feel it has done for the firm? What level of personal importance do you attach to them?
Edwards Wildman’s Boston office has long supported philanthropic and civic contributions to Greater Boston– as one of the largest law firms in Boston, we have an obligation to give back with community service and pro bono representation. Recently, I’ve focused on increasing these efforts by forming a Boston-based volunteer and community service committee to increase the firm’s participation in these activities on a regular basis and to develop a calendar of events. Through a regular series of “jeans days,” in which employees can donate five dollars to wear jeans to work on designated Fridays, the firm has raised thousands of dollars for charities such as The Greater Boston Food Bank, the American Heart Association, The Albert Schweitzer Fellowship, and Adopt a US Soldier. We prioritize organizations with which our colleagues are actively involved.
One of my favorites, though, was running a gift drive for Bridge Over Troubled Waters, a local nonprofit and client of the firm. We sent out the announcement that the gift drive would be happening, and I tagged three people to run the drive. After this initial announcement there were 60 volunteers, which was awesome, so I sent an email to the organization to let them know. They sent back such a grateful, thoughtful email back that I was really touched. At the end of the week, I forwarded it to the whole firm thanking the volunteers and letting them know that our tremendous support was a real tribute to the character of the firm. Well, when people saw that, I got about 80 more volunteers in the next 20 minutes! There was such a tremendous outpouring, and people felt really great about it. What’s more, the gift list we received from the organization had items like jackets, mittens, scarves – stuff you take for granted, that no kid in a middle-class upbringing would ever think to ask for because they don’t need to. I was so pleased that we could send more gifts than were even asked for.
The volunteer events are also excellent bonding tools, as they allow lawyers and staff at all levels and across practices and industry sectors to have the chance to become better acquainted with their colleagues. When we volunteer at the Greater Boston Food Bank, we go to their location after work, and then we come back to the office, go downstairs, and socialize. It’s a chance to just hang out, talk, and have some laugh – a fun office bonding activity that goes beyond the good work.
On a personal level, these civic contributions are very important to me. I have served on the boards of directors and fundraising committees of local non-profit organizations, including GLAD, Transition House, and the New England Shelter for Homeless Veterans, and have served on the Massachusetts Bar Foundation Grant Advisory Committee. In fact, I was serving on a board when I was a mid-level associate putting in tons of hours, so while it can be hard to find a balance and make it work, sometimes you just have to sacrifice some sleep for the greater good. I would encourage people to get to a board meeting, do that, and then turn the computer back on at home. But being more connected in the community is important if you are looking to stay at a firm longer-term; your life will be a lot richer if you are doing something that includes giving back to the community, rather than simply trying to generate fees and work on client matters.
3. This commitment to diversity seems to tie in very closely with your involvement in the Summer Jobs Committee. How and why did you get started on the committee? Why has this leadership role been important to you?
I have been a member of this committee since 2010, but this is my first year as Co-Chair. The Summer Jobs committee has always had a special place at our firm. Our former managing partner, Jeff Jones, once co-chaired the committee, and my colleague (and former Boston partner-in-charge) Jed Hendrick reached out to me to make sure our firm was represented on this committee. As the former chair of my office’s diversity committee for a number of years, I view this committee and its mission as a natural extension of our firm’s commitment to diversity and building a pipeline of diverse people in the legal profession in Boston. Serving as Co-chair will allow me to personally witness the incredible impact this experience has on students’ lives, as well as help drive participation by law firms and legal departments around the city. I know that the program has so many inspiring success stories. Just at Edwards Wildman, we continue to employ a former intern on a part-time basis as she is working her way through college. I have had other former student interns reach out to me with compelling stories of how this program gave them an edge in interviews and securing employment later in life.
With this in mind, I have to make one last plug for those firms that haven’t participated in the Summer Jobs program – we really strongly encourage you to do so. Doing the program is the only way you can see the real, tangible benefits that we are creating for our community, just by offering somebody a relatively cheap summer internship. I recently got an email from a student who was at Edwards Wildman for two summers. In the email, he wrote that he went to a career fair at his university, and that the executives he met with were amazed at how easy it was for him to initiate conversation. “If it wasn’t for my time in the BBA Summer Jobs program,” he told me, “I never would have been that comfortable talking to these professionals.” It’s truly amazing to hear.