Sara Jane Shanahan
Sara is the firm’s Managing Partner. She has been ranked in Chambers USA for Litigation: General Commercial – Massachusetts; listed in 2020 Benchmark Litigation and The Best Lawyers in America, where she was named Lawyer of the Year for Litigation – Insurance, Boston (2020); included in Massachusetts Lawyers Weekly “Top Women in Law,” Massachusetts Super Lawyers’ “Top 50 Women in Law” and “Top 100 New England”; and received the Perlman Service Award from the fellows of the Litigation Counsel of America (LCA). Sara is a regular contributor and speaker for the Massachusetts Continuing Legal Education, Inc.
Q: What’s one piece of advice you’d give your younger self?
A: Travel to Europe before kids – You really can afford to miss 10 days of work, and if you don’t go now, it will be a very long wait. I am still waiting. Epcot in Disney World was great, but it was not Europe.
Q: What’s been the best advice you’ve ever received?
A: Most of the best lawyering advice I have received came from Jerry Facher, who generously trained generations of trial lawyers. My favorite lesson from Jerry was this – Read the documents, read the documents, read the documents. The runner up is advice from Tom Maffei – Think about how you are going to ask the questions.
Q: Who inspires you?
A: People who write with purpose, clarity, and care. I love good writing – Whether it is in a book, a political speech, a sermon, or a legal brief. Good writers make an impression that stays with you long after the reading or listening is done, regardless of their chosen topic.
Q: What’s been the best professional decision you’ve made thus far in your career?
A: Becoming a lawyer. There are a lot of easier ways to earn a living, but I expect few can be as interesting and satisfying as being a lawyer. I love working on difficult problems, learning about different types of businesses, and engaging with a variety of people.
Q: What does being a woman in this industry mean to you?
A: I have been so fortunate to work with talented and inspiring women throughout my career. The women who trained and mentored me have shown there is no one path for being a successful lawyer – Each of us forges a path that best suits her individual interests, skills, and goals. This willingness to color outside of the lines, rather than being confined to predetermined paths that long dominated traditional legal careers, has been empowering. I hope that the next generation of lawyers, not only the women, will take this example of forging one’s own path and continue to open up opportunities for a broad section of people to find satisfaction and success in our wonderful profession.