Biography

No element of legal practice is more important than service to families. That belief is the foundation of my career as a lawyer.

The happiness and harmony of every highly functioning family depends on its ability to enhance the lives of its members in two important ways. First, such a family constitutes a community bound not just by blood or marriage, but by common values that encourage each of its members to be productive in work, education, and service to each other and to the family's community. In that respect, such a family provides a sense of purpose and direction to its members.

Second, such a family functions to develop the unique talents and aspirations of each of its members, and engenders respect for the differences in its members' capabilities and goals.

A lawyer who is well-trained and motivated by a desire to serve families can be their most important and trusted adviser. That lawyer's role might involve discrete functions, such as the establishment of a family council, a family foundation, or a family "bank" to help finance its members' new ventures. More important, however, that lawyer's role may be long-term, serving as counsel to a family business or as one of the trustees for the family wealth.

Particularly when serving as trustee or as an adviser to the family's trustees and to its business and wealth advisers, the most important role a lawyer can play is as a mentor to younger-generation family members, helping them understand the obligations and benefits of membership in the family, and facilitating each member's efforts to identify and develop his or her own talents, aspirations, and sense of self-worth.

These are the goals to which Michael's law practice is dedicated. Michael has more than 40 years of experience advising clients on all aspects of wealth management, including tax-efficient transfer of wealth, creation of family-controlled structures for long-term financial management and disposition of family assets, risk management, and implementation and oversight of family philanthropic endeavors. Michael represents high-net-worth clients and their families in the full range of their wealth management needs. He provides trusted counsel to venture capitalists, investment bankers, founders of significant private firms, senior officers of publicly owned companies, real estate developers, key executives of pre-IPO and other emerging firms, and families with significant accumulated capital.

In his trust and estate practice, Michael has extensive experience coordinating estate and tax planning for wealthy individuals.

Michael has been quoted on estate and tax planning and philanthropy in The Wall Street Journal, Time, Forbes, Financial Planning, U.S. Trust Company of New York's Business Advisor, Family Business Magazine, The Boston Business Journal, and Massachusetts Lawyers Weekly, as well as on National Public Radio.

Representative Engagements

  • Negotiated with the IRS on terms of a private letter ruling to ensure the most favorable tax treatment of donor's multibillion-dollar philanthropic gift to a major U.S. public charity
  • Structured and implemented plans—affecting hundreds of millions of dollars each—for public- and private-company CEOs to benefit both family members and philanthropic interests
  • Coordinated tax and wealth management strategies for multiple generations of several client families to benefit future generations for decades to come
  • Strategically planned early, tax-efficient transfer of stock to children and grandchildren for key investors and executives at emerging technology companies, well before any eventual IPO or similar transaction
  • Enhanced the development program of a national nonprofit organization on a pro bono basis, including advising on sophisticated planned giving opportunities for members
  • Implemented strategic solutions for executors of numerous significant estates, dealing with difficult issues relating to valuation, management, and disposition of interests in significant closely held businesses, resolution of a wide array of tax-planning problems and opportunities, and discharge of fiduciary duties

Services/Industries

Education

  • Harvard Law School  (J.D.)
  • Oxford University
    • Rotary Foundation Fellow
  • Dartmouth College  (B.A., summa cum laude)
    • Phi Beta Kappa

Public Service

  • Chairman of the Board, Professional Advisors Committee, The Boston Foundation
  • Overseer, Catholic Student Center, Dartmouth
  • Member, Executive Committee, Dartmouth College Alumni Council
  • Secretary, Dartmouth Educational Association
  • Secretary, Dartmouth Alumni Association of Eastern Massachusetts

Bar Admissions

  • Massachusetts

Memberships

  • Fellow, American College of Trust and Estate Counsel; Member, Charitable Planning Committee
  • Member, Attorneys for Family Held Enterprises
  • Member, Corporation of Partners HealthCare

Honors

  • Recognized by Worth magazine as one of the nation's "Top 100 Attorneys"
  • Received Boston Magazine's FIVE STAR Wealth Manager Award
  • AV® rated by Martindale-Hubbell
  • Recognized in Chambers High Net Worth under Private Wealth Law
  • Recognized in Chambers USA: America's Leading Lawyers for Business under Private Wealth Law
  • Listed in The Best Lawyers in America© for Trusts & Estates in Boston, Massachusetts (since 1995)
  • Selected by peers for inclusion in Massachusetts Super Lawyers© under Estate Planning & Probate (since 2004)

To learn more about third-party ratings and rankings, and the selection processes used for inclusion, click here.

Court and Other Admissions

  • U.S. Tax Court

Firm Highlights

Event

Understanding Your Fiduciary Responsibilities Under ERISA

Employers have long understood the importance of fiduciary compliance with respect to 401(k) plans and other retirement plans subject to ERISA, and most have sound processes and governance structures in place to ensure the...

Matter

Copyright Litigation: Software

Defended equipment manufacturer in copyright dispute involving firmware for digital subscriber line access multiplexers (“DSLAMs”). Case resolved favorably.

Matter

Trademark Litigation: Software

Represented trademark owner in litigation with foreign software company. Successfully defeated motion to dismiss on jurisdictional grounds, which was affirmed on appeal. Also successfully defeated summary judgment motion, which resulted in case settling before...

Blog

Verrill Attorney Gordon Smith Comments on Lawsuit Claiming Ownership of Maine Coastal Property

Publication/Podcast

Policies to Guide Employee Conduct and Respond to Misconduct

Scott Connolly, partner in Verrill’s Employment & Labor Group, has authored the chapter “Policies to Guide Employee Conduct and Respond to Misconduct” in MCLE’s book, Drafting Employment Documents in Massachusetts (4th Edition 2021). The...

News

Verrill Partner to Lead Firm’s Energy, Telecommunications, and Natural Resources Group

(May 14, 2021) – Verrill is pleased to announce that Jim Cohen has been appointed chair of the firm’s Energy, Telecommunications, and Natural Resources Group. Cohen, a former Mayor of Portland, is a long-time...

News

Verrill Welcomes Jeffrey A. Smagula, Experienced Health Care and Life Sciences Attorney, Former Health Plan Compliance Executive

(May 12, 2021) – Verrill is pleased to welcome Jeffrey A. Smagula to the firm’s Boston office as Counsel in its nationally recognized Health Care & Life Sciences Group. Jeff Smagula brings to Verrill...

Event

Global Virtual Legal Project Management Summit

Publication/Podcast

Portland Maine Business Podcast with Tawny Alvarez

On this week's Portland Maine Business Podcast , a podcast with Shelby Turcotte of Shelby Trained, he interviews employment and labor attorney Tawny Alvarez who shares stories that contributed to shaping her as a...

Blog

Prop 65: Will the “Short-Form” be Short Lived?

Enacted as part of the Safe Drinking Water and Toxic Enforcement Act of 1986, Proposition 65 (“Prop 65”) requires businesses with ten or more employees that sell products in the state of California to...

Contact Verrill at (855) 307 0700