Improving advocacy and trial skills for litigators who practice in state court, federal court and alternative-dispute venues

From Tipping the Scales - Lisa Arrowood: ‘A Leader Has the Courage to Make Decisions’

Lisa Arrowood is a founding partner of Arrowood Peters LLP, whose practice concentrates on business litigation, employment disputes, medical malpractice, personal injury, and legal malpractice. She is the Secretary of the BBA Council and a member of the BBA’s Executive Committee. She is also a Fellow of the American College of Trial Lawyers and is Vice-Chair of the ACTL Massachusetts State Committee. She holds a three year appointment (2010-2013) as the First Circuit Representative to the ABA Standing Committee on the Federal Judiciary.

  1.  What leadership experience was necessary to found your own litigation boutique?

 My litigation boutique, Arrowood Peters, is the second new law firm I have founded; I had co-founded Todd & Weld in 1992. So I had done it before, but I learned a lot in the 20 years at Todd & Weld about being a leader within a law firm. It was an interesting experience to be one of two female partners at Todd & Weld – for the first five years, I was the only one. There’s a certain understanding that comes from being the only female partner in a firm with a lot of female associates – you have to be a good role model and leader for women in particular.

 That, combined with a lot of experience leading teams on cases that went to trial, helped a lot in setting up the new firm – especially learning how to organize people, how to get tasks done, and how to motivate others, among other things.

  1. As a leader of other lawyers in volunteer organizations, what skills, qualities, or style do you consider crucial to ensure success?

 I think this is true of leadership in general, but one of the most important abilities is to make decisions and ‘let the buck stop with you.’ In order to be a good leader, you need the courage to make those decisions, and sometimes that means you need the courage to be wrong and work from there. In a volunteer organization, something key to keep in mind is respecting the fact that all of the volunteers are very busy and have a lot of responsibilities, so being efficient and not wasting time is extremely important. Volunteers are giving very precious time to the organization, so it’s always important for leaders to be sensitive to that.

  1. How do you establish credibility as a leader?

As a leader, you have to be willing to do some of the work and not just delegate, although good leaders do know how to delegate and are good at it. I am a firm believer that you can’t get everything done if you insist on trying to do it all yourself.

Beyond that, it often depends on the leadership role. For heading up a trial team, for example, where the goal is to win the case, people who work under you have to be confident that you know what you’re doing, that you’re going to do a good job, and that things need to be done a certain way because that’s the best way to do them – and it has to show up in results. That’s where people will see you as an effective and credible leader: when the direction you provide will get everybody to the place they want to be. Within the BBA or a volunteer organization, it’s a little more complex, because it’s a multifaceted organization with many different goals. That’s where it’s great to have an unbelievable team like the BBA staff to prepare and assist its leaders.


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Litigation Committees

  • Alternative Dispute Resolution Committee
    This committee hosts speakers on a wide variety of issues relating to arbitration, mediation and other dispute resolution processes. It strives to offer programs that are of value to individuals who serve as mediators and arbitrators, as well as advocates representing clients in dispute resolution processes, both domestic and international.

    Contact Information

    Catherine E. Shanks

    (401) 862-3798

    William McClare Dunham

    Sherin and Lodgen LLP

    (617) 646-2017

  • Antitrust & Business Litigation Committee
    This committee provides a means of dialogue and learning for members who share an interest in business litigation.

    Contact Information

    David B. Mack

    O'Connor, Carnathan, and Mack LLC

    (781) 359-9005

    Rachel M. Brown

    Shapiro Haber & Urmy LLP

    (617) 439-3939

  • Class Actions Committee
    This committee explores the ever-changing landscape of class action practice and procedure in federal and state courts in a wide variety of areas, including mass torts, environmental law, securities and consumer fraud.

    Contact Information

    Elizabeth A. Ryan

    Bailey and Glasser LLP

    (617) 439 6730

    Matthew G. Lindenbaum

    Goodwin Procter LLP

    (617) 570-8318

  • Construction Law Committee
    This committee addresses all aspects of construction law, including contract documents and alternative project delivery systems; construction litigation, arbitration and ADR; public contract law and other legal issues of interest to practitioners who handle matters relating to construction.

    Contact Information

    Rhian M.J. Cull

    Hinckley Allen

    (617) 378-4120

    Michael P. Sams

    Kenney & Sams, P.C.

    (508) 490-8500

  • Environmental Litigation Committee
    This committee focuses on Chapter 21E, CERCLA, insurance, clean air and clean water litigation.

    Contact Information

    Seth Schofield

    Office of the Massachusetts Attorney General

    (617) 727-2200

    Peter F. Durning

    Mackie Shea O'Brien, PC

    (617) 266-5700

  • Federal Practice and Procedure Committee
    This committee concentrates on developments in federal civil procedure and practical issues affecting practice in federal court. Areas covered include changes and proposed changes to the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure and the District of Massachusetts' Local Rules; reports of new and significant decisions interpreting the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure and the Federal Rules of Evidence; and presentations concerning such practical matters as the District of Massachusetts' mediation program and the use of technology in the courtroom.

    Contact Information

    Christine M. Genaitis

    Collora LLP

    (617) 371-1000

    Benjamin M. Stern

    Holland & Knight LLP

    (617) 305-2022

  • Intellectual Property Litigation Committee
    This is a joint committee between the Intellectual Property and Litigation Sections. This committee provides education concerning the enforcement of patent, trademark, copyright and trade secrets rights as well as the defense of those accused of infringing on such rights, in federal and state courts and before the International Trade Commission.

    Contact Information

    Dalila Wendlandt

    Ropes & Gray LLP

    (617) 951-7884

    Kelli Powell

    Wilmer Cutler Pickering Hale and Dorr LLP

    (617) 526-6819

    Kerry L. Timbers

    Sunstein Kann Murphy & Timbers LLP

    (617) 443-9292

  • Litigation Membership Committee
    This committee aims to increase participation in the Section through outreach activities.

    Contact Information

    Ronaldo Rauseo-Ricupero

    Nixon Peabody LLP

    (617) 345-1071

  • Litigation Public Policy Committee
    The BBA is very active in legislative and regulatory changes. Attorneys are often asked to lend their expertise.

    Contact Information

    David W. Robinson

    Ruberto, Israel & Weiner, P.C.

    (617) 742-4200

    Christopher D. Strang

    Desmond, Strang & Scott LLP

    (857) 233-5534

  • Litigation Public Service Committee
    Each year in recognition of Pro Bono Month, this committee, along with the Rappaport Center for Law and Public Service at Suffolk University Law School holds a pro bono opportunities fair for attorneys and law students. The committee also focuses on pro bono trainings and brown bag programming.

    Contact Information

    Daniel M. Routh

    Ropes & Gray LLP

    (617) 951-7256

  • Massachusetts Practice and Procedure Committee
    This committee concentrates on developments in Massachusetts civil procedure and practical issues affecting practice in Massachusetts courts.

    Contact Information

    Kristin Casavant

    Jones Day

    (617) 449-6907

    Victoria Fuller

    Rose, Chinitz & Rose

    (617) 536-0040

  • Professional Liability Committee
    This committee covers issues involving the liability of accountants, lawyers, physicians, architects and other professionals for malpractice, including liability under federal statutes and consumer protection laws.

    Contact Information

    Debra A. Squires-Lee

    Sherin and Lodgen LLP

    (617) 646-2036

    Christopher R. Conroy

    Peabody & Arnold LLP

    (617) 951-2079

  • Securities Enforcement and Litigation Committee
    This committee aims to foster dialogue among the legal and investigatory staff of securities regulators, lawyers who represent companies and persons involved in regulatory investigations/enforcement proceedings and lawyers who represent plaintiffs in private securities litigation and shareholder derivative actions.

    Contact Information

    Sarah G. Kim

    Office of the Massachusetts Attorney General

    (617) 727-2200

    Richard Rosensweig

    Goulston & Storrs PC

    (617) 482-1776

  • Steering Committee
    The leadership committee of the Section organizes programs and discusses policy. To inquire about opportunities, please contact the Section Co-Chairs.
  • Tort Committee
    This committee addresses all matters relating to injury and damage to persons and property.

    Contact Information

    Michael Robert Brown

    Peabody & Arnold LLP

    (617) 951-2072

    Eric Asquith

    Todd & Weld LLP

    (617) 624-4769