Denise Squillante is widely recognized as one of the
Massachusetts Bar Association's most vocal ambassadors. A
self-described "main street lawyer" from southeastern
Massachusetts, Squillante has steadily worked through the volunteer
ranks to now lead the MBA through its centennial-year
Squillante's term as MBA president follows that of Valerie A.
Yarashus and marks the first time in MBA history that a female
succeeds another woman president. It also marks only the second
time that an attorney from Fall River assumes the presidency. The
last to hail from that city was John W. Cummings in 1918.
In honor of its 100th anniversary, the "MBA will be celebrating a
century of service to the public, the profession and the rule of
law throughout its 2010-11 association year," said Squillante, who
established a solo practice in Fall River nearly 30 years ago. Now
a small firm, her practice specializes in family law, corporate
law, injury and estates, and also provides business and legal
consulting services to corporations.
Squillante obtained her bachelor's degree from Roger Williams
University in 1980. She went on to earn her law degree from the New
England School of Law (now New England Law/Boston) in 1983, magna
In tandem with building a successful family law practice over the
last three decades, Squillante's involvement and impact in the MBA
has grown exponentially.
Long active in the MBA's Family Law Section Council and its
committees, Squillante has lent her energy to the MBA's
Presidential Task Force on Terrorism, the Amicus Committee and the
Joint Bar Committee. A former recipient of the MBA's Pro Bono
Publico Award, Squillante is a longtime member of the MBA's House
of Delegates and a Massachusetts Bar Foundation Life Fellow.
"If it wasn't for the MBA, I highly doubt I'd be an attorney
today," admits Squillante, who explains that even early on, the MBA
provided the necessary lifelines she needed as a young, solo
practitioner. Because she found solo practice to be isolating and
only a few women practitioners hung their own shingles in
southeastern Massachusetts in the early 1980s, the MBA afforded
access to the necessary educational offerings and invaluable
networking and relationship building that she needed to
Her perspective was one of the leading influences in the MBA
establishing its General Practice, Solo & Small Firm Section in
Squillante was also instrumental in establishing the MBA's Lawyers
in Transition Committee a few years ago.
"Denise is extremely sensitive to those transitioning in and out
of practice and to those juggling busy professional and personal
lives," said the Hon. Mark Mason, District Court judge and MBA past
president (2006-07), who first came to know Squillante during her
inaugural year on the MBA's House of Delegates in 2001.
The MBA LIT committee aims to assist attorneys who are in the
midst of career transitions, particularly attorneys who are new to
practice, seeking to re-enter the paid workforce, switch practice
areas or pursue alternative careers altogether. It provides
attorneys with practical information, resources, networking
opportunities and support necessary to help them identify creative,
practical ways to pursue their professional goals.
"Denise is the model for practitioners who are successful in their
personal and professional lives," adds Mason.
A master at wearing multiple hats, Squillante credits her support
"I am blessed with a wonderful staff who works daily to keep me
moving along with where I need to be. More importantly, I am
blessed with a terrific daughter who keeps me anchored," said
Squillante, who raised her daughter, Laura, as a single
Laura will soon enter her junior year at Johnson & Wales
University pursuing a degree in graphic design and new media.
Squillante recalls the delicate balance between career and family
when her daughter was growing up. She would ensure her work
schedule was conducive to the school calendar and she worked mostly
out of her home, keeping her Friday schedule light so she could
take her daughter to dance lessons.
Aside from her steady efforts with LIT, alimony reform has been a
prioritized focus for Squillante. She has been at the table with
many influential groups studying and lobbying for reform.
Currently, she is a member of the legislative task force formed by
the Joint Committee on the Judiciary. She also served as the
co-chair of the Joint MBA/Boston Bar Association Alimony Task Force
and has testified in front of the Legislature on this important
topic over the years.
Among the many reasons that Squillante finds her bar work
fulfilling, legislative work tops the list.
"Over the last 10 years, Denise has aptly testified before the
Legislature on the majority of family law bills on which the MBA
has taken a position," said Martin W. Healy, MBA general counsel
and acting executive director.
As president, she looks forward to working with Healy and
Legislative Activities Manager Lee Ann Constantine on the MBA's
upcoming legislative agenda, which will most likely include court
funding, criminal sentencing, a host of probate issues and alimony
"I intend to lead the bar association to continue to meet the
needs of our members while we continue to be a vibrant force on
these key issues," said Squillante, a strong proponent of bench-bar
collaboration and legislative advocacy.
A member of the Probate Court Modification Task Force, Squillante
took part in the Supreme Judicial Court Steering Committee for
Self-Represented Litigants Advisory Group and was a member of the
Probate Court Scheduling Task Force. She also represented the MBA
on the Equality Commission - a collaborative effort of the MBA, BBA
and the Women's Bar Association.
"Denise is a tremendously committed, hard worker," said the Hon.
Paula M. Carey, chief justice of the Probate and Family Court, who
first worked with Squillante on the MBA's Family Law Section
Council in 2000. "She has a true commitment to the citizens of the
commonwealth and the rule of law," said Carey.
Back at home, Squillante's commitment to service extends beyond
the law. She was recently awarded the John S. Brayton Jr. Memorial
Community Service Award by the Fall River Chamber of Commerce for
her steadfast efforts to address domestic violence. A former member
of the board of directors for the Katie Brown Educational Program,
YMCA-Fall River, and Domestic Violence Task Force, Squillante is
also a former visiting lecturer at Bridgewater State College and
Bristol Community College.
In addition to Squillante's volunteerism on women's issues, she
sees herself as having a natural obligation to mentor women.
"One of the saddest things to me is when women think they cannot
manage a career and family," said Squillante, a testament that they
"Professional women, whatever their field, should mentor and help
other women along in their careers," she said.
One of Squillante's mentees, Brigid Mitchell, worked at
Squillante's firm throughout law school and became an associate
following her bar admission last year. Mitchell is now involved in
the MBA's Young Lawyers Division and Membership Committee thanks to
"I have always looked up to and admired Denise, not only because
I had aspirations to become a lawyer at a young age, but also
because Denise is a true, self-made success story and a role model
for all women," said Mitchell, who explains that Squillante has
never let her forget that "a lawyer cannot be a successful advocate
without recognizing the altruistic dimension of the practice."
Squillante explains that heartfelt notes and other gestures of
appreciation from her clients are important reminders that she has
made a difference in their lives and that she has chosen the right
Throughout Squillante's fulfilling career, MBA and other bar
involvement remained a high priority.
A former president of the Fall River Bar Association, Squillante
sits on the executive board for the Bristol County Bar Association
and will become president of the New England Bar Association in
October. She proudly points out that all four of the presidents for
the MBA, Fall River, Taunton and Bristol County Bar associations
are women during Squillante's term.
"This is a sign of how involved women are in bar association work
at this time," said Squillante, who explains that the Fall River
Bar's Marita Durkin Gray and Bristol County Bar's Nancy Stanton
also started their careers as solo practitioners.
Squillante recently returned from the American Bar Association's
annual meeting on the West Coast. She serves as an MBA delegate to
the ABA's House of Delegates. Her work with national colleagues
allows her a better view of trends in the profession. "It provides
a bit of a weather forecast," said Squillante, who is not shy about
bringing back to the MBA what she learns at the national
"This has been a fun journey," Squillante said of her work leading
up to her presidency, which officially kicks off the MBA's
centennial celebration on Sept. 1.
"I know of no one who is more dedicated to the MBA than Denise
Squillante," said Mason. "She has always been committed to
expanding the reach of the MBA - we could not be in better
Alongside Squillante, the other 2010-11 MBA officers are: Richard
P. Campbell, president-elect, Boston; Douglas K. Sheff, vice
president, Boston; Jeffrey N. Catalano, vice president, Boston;
Robert L. Holloway Jr., treasurer, Peabody; and Marsha V.
Kazarosian, secretary, Haverhill.