In what is probably the best possible outcome of a career in
government, Elissa Flynn-Poppey went into private practice at the
end of the Romney administration with a keen desire to contribute
to the greater good.
"I was fortunate to start in public service," said Flynn-Poppey,
who served as Romney's deputy legal counsel and executive director
of the Judicial Nominating Commission. "Working in government
instills a need to give back. You see people at their best and
their worst every day. And I absolutely get more than I give."
Flynn-Poppey, an attorney with Mintz Levin, was part of a team
of attorneys from the firm who, working pro bono, drafted the
legislation that offers protection to victims of sexual assault,
criminal stalking and criminal harassment.
She is also a board member of Massachusetts Law Review
and a founding member of the Animal Law Practice Group (part of the
MBA's Civil Litigation Section). Her involvement in the Animal Law
Practice Group came about because of her volunteer work with the
She is able to spend so many hours volunteering in a variety of
fields in part because Mintz Levin pays more than lip service to
pro bono work.
"They really do believe in giving back," she said. "They are
very supportive, even to the point of taking time out of billable
hours to make sure the [domestic violence] initiative passed. If I
worked somewhere else, it would be a lot more difficult."
A team from Mintz Levin was already working on legislation to
allow victims of sexual assault to obtain a restraining order
against their attackers. At the time, the law allowed only those
who were related to, or in a relationship with, their attackers to
apply for restraining orders. The only recourse for those attacked
by strangers or friends was to obtain civil restraining orders, an
often expensive and time-consuming process, or to press charges,
which could be difficult for a variety of reasons.
Flynn-Poppey joined the firm about two years ago, and with her
government background and familiarity with legislation, offered to
take a look at the draft.
The result was a complete re-write. "We narrowed it, made it
more focused," she said. "And we wanted to take a look at both
sides, because it is possible for the defendant to become a victim
The final version was unanimously approved by the Legislature,
then signed by the governor, on Feb. 9, 2010, less than three
months from the refile date. Several victims of sexual assault were
waiting for the bill to pass and have already received restraining
orders against their attackers. Violation of the orders can result
in up to two and a half years in a house of corrections.
Flynn-Poppey said one woman told her she felt like it was the first
time she could leave her house safely. Her attacker lives in her
"It was probably the highlight of my legal career," Flynn-Poppey
said. "It's not often that you get to do what you went to law
school to do."