Deutsch Williams a leader in attentive client service, bar involvement

Issue September/October 2016

Firm Name: Deutsch Williams Brooks DeRensis & Holland, P.C. (a/k/a Deutsch Williams)

Year founded: 1984

Location: Boston

Number of attorneys: 21

Managing partners: Valerie Swett, Senior Managing Principal, Robert D. Hillman, Managing Principal, Daniel R. Deutsch Managing Principal, Steven J. Brooks, Managing Principal Emeritus

What types of law does your firm handle?

Deutsch Williams serves clients in a broad range of fields, including civil and white collar criminal litigation, real estate, trusts and estates, insurance coverage, probate and family law, environmental law, business law and litigation, immigration, public sector labor and employment law, school law, and municipal law.

Are there any areas where the firm has made a name for itself?

Although Deutsch Williams has achieved considerable success and recognition in several areas of practice, including litigation, real estate, trusts and estates, and insurance coverage law, we have gained particular and sustained recognition for our work in the public sector areas of our practice, namely management-side labor relations and employment law, school law, and municipal law.

What firm attribute do clients find most attractive?

The firm's chief attraction for our clients and prospective clients is our ability to consistently offer one-on-one attention from experienced, senior attorneys at moderate prices.

Briefly describe a recent "win" or client success story that the firm is proud of?

Deutsch Williams represented one of four men, and their estates, in the much publicized federal wrongful imprisonment lawsuit against the United States government (Limone v. United States), arising from their conviction and decades-long incarceration based on perjured testimony of a notorious mob assassin that was suborned and supported by FBI agents. The case, which was upheld on appeal, garnered international publicity and resulted in the largest judgment and recovery in any wrongful imprisonment case in the United States ($100 million). Dan Deutsch tried the case, and John Foskett contributed to the appeal, along with several attorneys from other law firms.

Describe a recent pro bono project the firm has undertaken.

Through the MBA, two Deutsch Williams attorneys (Tom Barbar and Dan Deutsch) counseled and represented individuals and small businesses victimized by the Marathon Bombing who otherwise may have been unable to obtain legal advice or recoup their losses.

Two departments within the firm (Immigration Law and Family Law) represented an indigent immigrant in actions that involved the Probate and Family Court, as well as the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Service. Margaret Holland Sparages was able to successfully assert the client's rights in a VAWA (Violence Against Women Act) petition, which allowed the client to be able to obtain a green card and pursue legal employment. Tom Barbar was able to obtain a judgment from the Probate and Family Court protecting her from her abusive husband and obtaining sole legal and physical custody of her two minor children.

Is your firm regularly active with any organizations outside of the MBA?

The firm itself has participated in South Boston community initiatives and bar association efforts, but the diverse interests of our attorneys have led them to become personally and very actively involved as leaders in the Boy Scouts of America, Discovering Justice, many public boards (including Boards of Selectmen, other executive boards, permitting boards and commissions), the Board of Registration in Medicine, and religious charitable organizations throughout the Boston area. The firm, in addition, has had members participate in numerous MBA programs, such as the Dial-A-Lawyer Program, pro bono cases through the MBA, Marathon Bombing Victims Program, Scholarship programs, and pro bono representation regarding the opioid crisis.

Any announcements from the firm?

We have added attorneys to service our growing labor and employment and school law practices, and continue to be open to creative lateral hires and mergers which would expand other areas.

What's one thing about the firm that people might be surprised to learn?

Deutsch Williams is the only law firm in the Boston Design Center, part of the larger Innovation and Design Building, which together house the offices of a major craft brewer; dozens of interior design, architecture, and furnishing businesses; consulting firms; a renowned business incubator; high-technology firms; and a wide variety of other companies.

One of the firm's founders, Burt Williams, long ago represented Olympic pair skaters Peter and Kitty Carruthers. We currently represent the family of a major Big Band era drummer and a former world champion athlete.

Another of the firm's founders, Allan Drachman, was instrumental in the development of public sector labor law in Massachusetts and the American Bar Association.

Why is it important to have all the lawyers in your firm members of the MBA?

Aside from the practical benefits, such as insurance benefits, malpractice insurance and continuing legal education, Deutsch Williams encourages all of our attorneys to take advantage of all that the MBA has to offer. We want our attorneys to be part of the "voice" of the legal community which the MBA provides across the commonwealth.

How has the MBA benefitted lawyers in your firm?

The MBA provides our attorneys with extremely thorough educational seminars, numerous networking opportunities, access to legal experts in all legal fields, legislative opportunities, organized and meaningful pro bono programs, and perhaps most importantly, the opportunity to be a leader in the legal arena of Massachusetts and to be part of the legal voice of the community and the commonwealth.

Are there any specific MBA programs you find particularly helpful?

Lawyers of the firm who have been members of the MBA's section councils and have been appointed by the MBA to chair section councils have found their involvement to be particularly rewarding. Also, the MBA recognizes leaders in the law with its various educational panels, committees, subcommittees, task forces and the House of Delegates. The lawyers of Deutsch Williams who have participated in these important roles have felt that they have truly been part of the ever changing legal landscape of Massachusetts.