McIntyre brings small-town approach to 2008-09 term as MBA president

Issue September 2008 By Bill Archambeault

Focuses on long-term leadership gains

Edward W. McIntyre is in his element amid the friendly greetings and easy conversations exchanged on the streets of Clinton, a former mill town of nearly 14,000 people about 35 miles west of Boston.

As his 2008-09 term as president of the Massachusetts Bar Association begins, McIntyre hopes to bring some small-town civility to the profession statewide.

"I have a joy here that I suspect other people would crave," McIntyre said, noting that he lives a mile-and-a-half from his office, which is in a pre-Civil War brick building located on a tree-lined street in downtown Clinton. "To consider giving that up… I’ve never been willing to do that."

His family includes his wife, Mary; three adult children, Michael, Kathryn and Maureen; and his first granddaughter, Caitlyn.

McIntyre, whose solo practice concentrates on head and spinal cord injury cases, is pursuing a broad goal of creating "mindfulness in the practice of law" during his term. He explains "mindfulness" as "being purposefully attentive in the present moment non-judgmentally." Rather than dictate a specific,
predetermined agenda for the year, McIntyre wants to nurture and invigorate the MBA’s leadership, especially its section chairs, to generate "membership-driven" initiatives.

"I’m focused on building the leadership capacity of the Massachusetts Bar," McIntyre said. He’s excited about initiatives like the MBA’s Leadership Roundtable — which he and President-elect Valerie A. Yarashus spearheaded last year. At the monthly roundtables, MBA leaders are invited to engage in conversations based on books about leadership, developing consensus and organizational communication.

McIntyre says he wants to ensure "a long harvest of leaders at the MBA." He said that he assumes that all of the member volunteers — the other MBA officers, section council leaders, committee and task force chairs — come into their positions "excited about the opportunity to lead."

"My expectation is that every section chair sees themselves as leaders. Organizational leadership should be and can be horizontal," he said, stressing that he wants
to cultivate collaborations, much like immediate Past President David W. White Jr. did in partnering with the Conservation Law Foundation to launch the MBA Lawyers

"I think the bar should be doing much more of that
and go where we’ve never gone before to seek out

McIntyre is taking on his most visible role as a lawyer as he becomes president of the state bar association. But he does not want this to be seen as his year. He routinely deflects questions about himself, using the opportunity to praise others.

In discussing the MBA’s pro bono program for veterans, he credits Director of Community and Public Services Director Elizabeth O’Neil and Executive Director Marilyn J. Wellington with leading the effort. The program helps veterans resolve problems with their benefits, and also
handles calls from veterans through special Dial-A-Lawyer programs.

"I gave it a voice. That’s all I did," said McIntyre, 63, who was an infantry-platoon leader with the 173rd Airborne Brigade, and served in Vietnam from September 1969 to December 1970. "That’s an initiative that originated with members and is really membership-driven."

A sense of place


McIntyre’s family moved to Clinton from New Jersey when he was seven, and it’s been home ever since. He shares an easy camaraderie with Thomas F. McQuoid, a conveyancer and land-use practitioner, with whom McIntyre owns the pre-Civil War brick building.

McIntyre jokes that it’s here in these tight quarters that the two of them — and whoever might be renting one of the two other offices from them — discuss and solve the world’s problems.

"In a small town, a small office like this — in a building like this — it’s what really makes the day," McIntyre says, standing near the doorway of his small office, just a few feet from McQuoid’s desk.

Driving through town, McIntyre acts like a tour guide, pointing out the massive red brick complex that used to house the Bigelow Carpet Co., the first worldwide carpeting manufacturer. The name "Bigelow" still adorns the façade, but McIntyre notes with civic pride that Nypro Inc., a plastics company with operations in 17 countries, chose Clinton as its corporate headquarters (and largest North American facility), occupying the 750,000-square-foot site.

McIntyre points to the Wachusett Reservoir, which is on the route he runs with a group of friends as they train for marathons. Members of the group run in various local road races and also fly to Ireland for the Dublin City Adidas Marathon in October. He and a few members of his running crew — including MBA member William T. McGrail, a former law partner of his — will be participating again this year, which will be McIntyre’s twelfth.

McIntyre has run for the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society for a decade. He runs five to six days a week, anywhere from four to eight miles a day during the week and double that on the weekend. He runs through state watershed land, a beautiful setting, he says, where he’s seen wild turkey, eagles and deer. "Every morning, you come upon something wonderful."

Court appearance

At Clinton District Court, McIntyre is waiting for Assistant Clerk Dennis P. Sargent. McIntyre has known the Sargent family his whole life, but met Dennis professionally about 15 years ago after Sargent served in the Air Force JAG Corps. Sargent went around knocking on doors asking for support as he ran for town counsel of Clinton, and ended up renting an open office from McIntyre for seven years before moving on to a firm.

When he left to start his own firm, Sargent moved back in to McIntyre’s building (where his name still adorns the sign outside) before making another switch, leaving private practice to become an assistant clerk under Clinton District Court Clerk Magistrate Leonard F. Tomaiolo, who’s also known McIntyre for more than 25 years and shares laughs over old courthouse stories.

While he’s waiting, McIntyre is greeted warmly by judges, clerks, police officers and the building manager. There are slaps on the back and hugs, even though his practice rarely brings him to district court these days.

When Sargent was Clinton’s town counsel, he would frequently seek McIntyre’s advice, in part, he said, because McIntyre was able to see issues from different perspectives.

"Ed’s a very practical person, and gives solid advice," Sargent said. "I found Ed to be one of the best legal people I could consult with on the practice of law."

Lunch at the Orchards

McIntyre and Sargent are joined for lunch by Harold Vanasse, who managed excess state land before he retired, at Meadowbrook Orchards in Sterling, a large, airy restaurant/bakery overlooking apple orchards that produces 50,000 bushels a year. The Chandler family has owned and run the orchard since 1912.

Behind the counter, David Chandler Jr. greets the group: "Ed, what’s going on today?"

The conversation between McIntyre, Sargent and Vanasse is rapid and varied. The Orchards had recently hosted a beekeeping seminar for teachers, and the subject leads to talk about the dangers of South American bees.

Then it’s on to the election, and Sen. Barack Obama’s candidacy. Sargent notes that Obama needs more support from McIntyre’s generation, to which Vanasse, the elder at the table, nods and quips, "Right, the younger generation."

The men talk about going on YouTube to watch Paris Hilton’s criticism of Sen. John McCain’s attack ad on Obama.

Then it shifts to a local barber who worked on a secret mission that helped win World War II. Another topic shift
and McIntyre explains that most of the blueberry crop from Maine ends up in Japan.

The conversation is interrupted at one point when McIntyre’s sister Maureen Cranson comes up behind him and plants a kiss on the top of his head (McIntyre has four sisters and three brothers). They share a few jokes before she joins her group on the other side of the restaurant.

On the way out, McIntyre pays Chandler and asks if he’s made any progress on his plans to install solar paneling on the sloped roof, suggesting the name of a Clinton business owner, Nypro’s Gordon Lankton, who recently installed solar panels on the Russian Icon Museum just off the town’s Central park.

A shift in practice, the profession

McIntyre began as a general practitioner, handling lots of criminal law and domestic relations issues. "As my practice developed, I gravitated toward areas I found more interesting," he said. "I don’t miss criminal work, I don’t miss probate court."

His practice has focused on head and spinal cord injury cases since he landed a closed-head injury case about 20 years ago involving amnesia. It presented difficult proof issues, as well as other questions and situations he wasn’t familiar with. As he sought the answers, he grew more and more fascinated with traumatic brain injury and the problems it posed for his clients and their loved ones.

He also appreciates that the nature of his practice means he only handles and consults on about a dozen active cases at a time.

He’s finding he misses courtroom confrontation less and less, too. McIntyre completed his first mediation training session recently, and expects to commit himself more fully to this growing practice trend after his term as president is done.

"The nature of my practice has changed," he said, with more emphasis on mediation. McIntyre is intrigued by the movement and its possibilities to resolve disputes in a more collaborative and civil manner. In preparation for his term, McIntyre has had preliminary talks with the Massachusetts Office of Dispute Resolution and members of the Trial Court Standing Committee on Dispute Resolution, exploring ways that the MBA might be able to serve as a catalyst for expanding the use of ADR.

McIntyre chose Professor Leonard L. Riskin, the Chesterfield Smith Professor of Law at the University of Florida Levin College of Law, as the keynote speaker for this year’s Annual Gala Dinner. Riskin will speak on "Mindfulness in the Law," a topic he has written and lectured on extensively.

McIntyre says he’s intrigued by the notion of resolving disputes through less confrontational settings than a courtroom. Mediation also provides clients an opportunity to exercise more control than in a courtroom, where the multitude of legal procedures and rules can leave them feeling dependent.

"Litigation is an arcane process for many, many lay people; there’s a lot of legalese, and it can be very confusing," McIntyre said. "(Mediation can be) a learning moment for the client, an opportunity for them to solve their own cases. I have an appreciation that people generally prefer to adjust rather than adjudicate disputes."

McIntyre dislikes the stereotype of abrasive courtroom lawyers berating each other with scorched earth ferocity. He sees enormous potential in encouraging a more collaborative approach toward finding the best solution, "a self-awareness of listening, reflecting and suspending judgment in the present moment, which leads to a quieter, softer, more humane practice," he said.

"The spirit thrives on the very values that small-town America seeks to cultivate," he said. "I think most lawyers get that."

It’s not just an idealistic goal spurring McIntyre’s reasoning, but a desire to help colleagues who may struggle with problems — like anger, depression and alcohol or drug abuse — that can result from intense stress when practicing law.

"When you move away from (a humane approach to the law), that’s when unhappiness sets in with the practice of law," he said. "I’ve never had that. I’ve been joyful every day with the practice of law."