Kazarosian to lead association with focus on education and respect for rule of law
Marsha V. Kazarosian knew she wanted to be a lawyer even before
she got to preschool.
"I started taking piano lessons when I was 3, and I knew I wanted
to be a lawyer right around the same time," Kazarosian said. "It
was a big joke in my family. I had my whole life planned out by the
age of 3."
Now a nationally recognized attorney, Kazarosian, this month,
takes over the presidency of the Massachusetts Bar
"It's going to be a rocking year," Kazarosian said with typical
enthusiasm. "I'm very excited. The leadership within the
Massachusetts Bar Association is just extraordinary, and the
collegiality is infectious. It truly is the best and the
Count Kazarosian among those "best and brightest." Admitted to the
Massachusetts Bar in 1982 and New Hampshire in 1990, Kazarosian
concentrates in personal injury, divorce and family law, and
Kazarosian was Massachusetts Super Lawyers magazine's
cover story in 2006. Since then, she has been named as one of the
top lawyers in Massachusetts each year, identified as one of the
top 50 Women Lawyers in Massachusetts and New England, named one of
the top 100 Lawyers in Massachusetts and named a Super Lawyer in
both Family Law and Personal Injury Litigation by Law &
Politics. In September 2011, Massachusetts Lawyers
Weekly picked Kazarosian as a "Top Woman in the Law" in the
commonwealth and, in 1999, named her as one of the Top 10 lawyers
Making her mark
Kazarosian grew up in Haverhill, the oldest of three children.
After earning her law degree in 1982 from Suffolk University Law
School, she joined her father, Paul Kazarosian, a criminal defense
attorney and civil litigator, in his practice in Haverhill.
"Dad wasn't the kind of lawyer who did a lot of teaching, showing
me how to do things, other than absorb things," Kazarosian said.
"He'd throw me something and tell me to do it. I had to figure out
on my own how to do it. I spent a lot of time watching and
listening to him. It was the best way to absorb and great
As her father's health declined, Kazarosian took over more and
more of the practice, building her own reputation. She developed a
wide range of expertise in the areas of SEC whistleblower
retaliation, discrimination, divorce and family law and criminal
and civil litigation.
Over the years, she has taken on several high-profile media cases,
including the 1999 landmark Borne, et al. v. Haverhill Golf and
Country Club, Inc. The gender discrimination suit was the
first case of its kind to go to trial in the country, resulting in
a multi-million dollar judgment and setting a precedent for gender
discrimination in a country club/membership-based setting. However,
the case, which lasted more than eight years, took its toll.
"For someone to step up in their local community and go against
the grain, against the local powers, when you know people are not
happy with you, shows the commitment Marsha has when she sees
something not right," said Kazarosian's partner Walter A. Costello,
Jr. "I know she took a lot of abuse for that case."
"It was pretty much awful," Kazarosian said. "It was a very
difficult case, but I also reaped many rewards far beyond the money
and recognition. The clients I had are still close-valued friends.
I had well-respected colleagues who supported me and helped me
One of those supporters was longtime friend and outgoing MBA
President Douglas K. Sheff.
"As a lawyer, Marsha will take on titans without a second
thought," Sheff said. "She is a real advocate for the little guy.
She fights for the underdog, the underrepresented. She is a true
In the early and mid-90s, Kazarosian began getting involved in bar
activities. She is a past president of the Massachusetts Academy of
Trial Attorneys, as well as the Essex County Bar Association. She
has also served a two-year term as one of 25 lawyers in the
commonwealth appointed to the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial
Court's Pro Bono Panel, and a six-year term as a Hearings Committee
officer for the Massachusetts Board of Bar Overseers.
She regularly serves as a mock trial judge for high school,
college and law school students, and speaks and writes frequently
on various legal topics.
"I don't know where Marsha gets her energy," Costello said. "I'll
get emails from her at 6:30 in the morning. She's up and raring to
In January 2014, Kazarosian joined Costello, a former president of
the Massachusetts Academy of Trial Attorneys, and former MBA
president Kathleen O'Donnell, to form Kazarosian Costello &
O'Donnell LLP with offices in Haverhill, Salem and Lowell.
At the MBA, Kazarosian wants to continue the long-standing
emphasis on education, both within the legal community and the
public at large.
Beginning Sept. 1, the MBA will offer all CLE programs free of
charge to members, excluding conferences and the Practicing with
Professionalism course. Kazarosian also wants to step up efforts to
educate the public about the role of lawyers and the rule of
"No other country has the system of justice we have," she said.
"But it doesn't just happen. It takes funding and support from
lawyers, the public, judges, legislators. People need to be
She wants members of the bar to "get out there," speak up, write
articles, op-ed pieces and letters to the editor about the
importance of court funding and access, as well as consumer
"We need to be visible, loud and articulate in order to keep the
courthouse doors open," she said. "We can't wait until a person
being abused by a domestic partner goes to court for help and the
doors are shut."
She said part of educating the public about the law is changing
perceptions about lawyers.
"From my perspective, the law is probably the most honored and
revered profession a person can have," Kazarosian said. "A license
to practice law is really a license to help people. It's a
phenomenal privilege and a huge responsibility. Lawyers in general
do a very good job of meeting that responsibility. But lately, the
public perception has been unfairly dismal. I'd like to turn the
tables on that perception."
She also wants to nurture the "symbiotic relationship" between
bench and bar.
"We have lawyers. We have judges. One can't exist without the
other," Kazarosian said. "We need to work together to accomplish
the goal of access to justice for everyone. But it can't happen
without the bench and bar working together to get the job
Sheff said there are few lawyers as qualified as Kazarosian to
lead the bar.
"Marsha has spent her whole career preparing herself for this
position," Sheff said. "She is somebody who is not just proficient
at a skill - there are many people like that. Marsha really cares
about people. If I had a question or problem, of all the literally
thousands of friends and lawyers I could turn to at the bar, Marsha
is one of the first people I would call. She cares so deeply about
lawyers, people in general. I feel very comfortable having her in
charge. I know she will always do the right thing."