Thomas Gallitano, of Conn Kavanaugh Rosenthal Peisch & Ford LLP, practices in the areas of employment law, professional liability, and business litigation. In addition to serving as the firm’s Managing Partner, Tom is Co-Chair of the firm’s Employment Law Practice Group. He has served as the Chair of the MCAD Advisory Board since he was first appointed by Governor Deval Patrick in 2007. He is actively involved in the Boston Bar Foundation (BBF): he has been a member of the Adams Benefit Steering Committee since 2010 and has served as Co-Chair of the Adams Benefit for the past two years. He is also on the BBF’s Board of Trustees and Development Committee.
1. What has been your favorite part about being on the Steering Committee for Adams Benefit? Why has it been important for you to return to that committee?
I first got involved with the Adams Benefit Steering Committee about four years ago when Tony Froio (who now heads up the BBF Development Committee) was Chair. When Tony first recruited me, he told me what a great group of people I’d be meeting and working with, and that certainly has been my experience. Serving on this particular committee provides the opportunity to work closely with the BBF staff, with terrific lawyers, and with many others. There’s this notion that’s the Adams Benefit Committee is made up mainly of lawyers from large Boston law firms. In fact, year after year, the BBF assembles a committee that includes not just lawyers from the larger firms, but also from smaller firms, solo practitioners, in-house counsel, and leaders from the business community. I’m sure I wouldn’t have had the opportunity to develop terrific friendships with my fellow committee members otherwise, and that has made serving on the Adams Benefit Committee a very enriching and rewarding experience.
In terms of why I continue to do it — anyone who has spent time looking carefully at the Boston Bar Foundation’s work can’t help but come back to it year after year. It is one of the few organizations with such an unbelievably expansive reach, with grants going out to a wide variety of legal services and community groups, helping to fund the front line in combating homelessness, assisting domestic violence victims, helping kids and families at risk – really supporting the most vulnerable people in our society. I can’t think of a better use of my “spare time.” Without any reservation, I would encourage lawyers to become members of the Society of Fellows, to attend the annual Adams Benefit, and to take on a leadership role with the Foundation.
2. Can you give some background on the Massachusetts Commission Against Discrimination and its Advisory Board, which you chair?
There is an interesting story here. The Advisory Board is established by statute – MGL Chapter 6, § 56, the enabling statute for the MCAD itself. For a variety of reasons, the Advisory Board was inactive for many years. Shortly after Governor Patrick was elected in 2006, he reactivated the Advisory Board, and I was asked to chair it.
The Advisory Board is an incredibly diverse group of individuals who share the same commitment: to help make the MCAD as great a government agency as it can be. As you know, the MCAD is the Commonwealth’s chief civil rights agency, which works to eliminate discrimination in employment, housing, education, and public accommodations. The Advisory Board is made up of lawyers and civil rights advocates, and since 2007, the Advisory Board has been providing recommendations to both the Commission and the Governor on how to improve delivery of services at the MCAD. I’ve been an employment lawyer for 25+ years, and this is something I feel strongly about. Everyone benefits – employees, employers, tenants and landlords, and all others who have business before the Commission – when the MCAD is operating smoothly. That’s been our overall objective over the years.
3. What has surprised you the most in your time serving as Managing Partner of your firm?
Serving as Managing Partner really is all-consuming. A managing partner thinks about and deals with day-to-day operational issues, but also must be looking ahead and planning for the future. Not a day goes by that I’m not thinking actively about an ongoing operational issue, about the firm’s future and growth, and about doing the best we can to serve our clients and to exceed their expectations. Despite the time demands, fortunately we have a great administrative team in place, and I am able to continue to work with longtime clients with whom I’ve enjoyed working over the years.
I assumed managing partner responsibilities about 15 months ago, in January 2013, and was quite pleasantly surprised by the number of people from other law firms who called to congratulate me and jokingly to provide condolences, but also offering help. Despite the fact that Boston is a competitive town, nonetheless I found it to be a gracious gesture that many people, including other managing partners, reached out and offered help and a friendly ear.
Being the managing partner of a law firm, of any size, draws on a very wide skill set, among them being a very good listener, being diplomatic, and knowing when to draw diverse views together to propose a path forward. This much is clear – the “two ears and one mouth rule” apply – one has to listen more than talk to be successful!