On Monday, March 16th, Jeff Mullan, partner at Foley Hoag, received a text from a City of Boston Policy Advisor asking if his firm could assist the Boston Public Schools (BPS) with a copying project. The usual vendors were unable to complete the project of printing take-home packets for students, which were needed urgently – the schools were preparing to close in accordance with the Governor’s COVID-19 recommendations. Mullan’s initial reaction was to tell the advisor no problem – how many packets did they need? “Twelve thousand packets of seventy-five pages each,” was the response he received. And they needed it the following day. The schools were set to close on Tuesday, March 17th, and they needed these packets printed and delivered in less than a day so that the students could take them home.
Mullan knew that even if Foley Hoag had the paper, they couldn’t turn this project around that quickly. So, he reached out to the Managing Partners at his firm, Jeff Collins and Ken Leonetti, to see if they had thoughts on how to scale up their efforts. Collins suggested that they increase their capacity for the project by reaching out to a leadership group of the twenty largest law firms in Boston for assistance.
Over a year ago, leaders at the twenty largest law firms in Boston started meeting to discuss how they could pool their efforts and collaborate on projects in the Boston area. Despite the fact that they are direct competitors, these twenty law firms also saw the opportunity inherent in their combined forces and began meeting quarterly to discuss shared initiatives. Jane Goldstein, co-managing partner of Ropes & Gray’s Boston office and a member of the coalition, helped lead the collaboration between the law firms and BPS to get take-home materials printed for the students of Boston.
Goldstein explained that once the call was sent out to the group, multiple firms jumped in and offered to help with the project. Six firms which had crews on site and responded first – Ropes & Gray, Foley Hoag, Mintz Levin, Seyfarth Shaw, WilmerHale, and Wolf Greenfield – were recruited to help with printing and packaging the twelve thousand packets and sending them on to the schools. Several others among the group offered to help as well.
When asked about the actual process of preparing the packets, Goldstein noted that it was truly gratifying work for the people at her firm. Even though they had just transitioned most of the office to remote work, the skeleton crew left at the office was more than happy to help.
“The community of lawyers in this city care deeply about the well-being of families and their children. We immediately realized how important these packets would be to the continuation of structured learning at home,” Goldstein told the BBA. “I’m proud to see firms work together in partnership with public institutions. This presented an opportunity for our staff to give back to others in a meaningful way,” said Goldstein.
The partnership between these law firms and the Boston Public Schools to prepare materials for students during the COVID-19 closure is a clear example of how the private sector stands ready and willing to assist the government and the community during times of crisis. Both Goldstein and Mullan stated that they’d be happy to help the city again. “On behalf of the Foley Hoag team, I am glad that the Mayor’s office reached out to us and equally pleased that we were able to make this small contribution to the challenges the City is facing at this time,” Mullan affirmed. “We look forward to finding additional ways that we can be of assistance.”