Matthew J. Lawlor



  • Overview


    Matthew Lawlor focuses his practice on real estate disposition for public agencies, affordable housing finance, development, permitting, land use, and urban planning matters. He regularly represents public authorities and agencies, lenders, developers, nonprofit organizations, and commercial landlords and tenants. In addition to his law degree, he has a master’s degree in regional planning. Matt serves as Chair of the firm’s Real Estate + Development Group.

    Real Estate Disposition for Public Agencies

    Matt represents municipal and state agencies in the disposition of real property for development and redevelopment. He drafts, negotiates, and closes on long-term ground leases and related documentation.

    He has assisted clients such as municipal and state development agencies in real estate-related matters, including successfully drafting, negotiating and closing on long-term ground leases for construction of a new hotel in Roxbury and a new regional light industrial contractor’s headquarters in South Boston, Massachusetts.

    Affordable Housing Finance

    Matt represents major lenders in affordable housing financing for the construction and major rehabilitation of residential developments. This representation includes drafting all construction loan documentation, undertaking legal due diligence, and closing the loan transactions.

    He has handled numerous affordable housing finance transactions on behalf of a major national bank, including for a public housing redevelopment in East Boston, Massachusetts, and for the rehabilitation of several public housing developments in Cambridge, Massachusetts.

    Development, Permitting, and Land Use

    Matt represents non-profit and for-profit developers, including renewable energy developers, and public agencies on development, permitting, and land use aspects of sustainable, mixed-use and transit-oriented development. This representation includes negotiating acquisition and development documentation, and providing advice and conducting due diligence related to permitting. He assists clients with obtaining all required permits and approvals for their projects. He drafts and negotiates construction and permanent loan documentation and joint venture agreements.

    Matt has handled long-term ground leases of new development, and obtained permits and development rights for developers of large-scale, mixed-use projects. He successfully obtained permits for a 27-unit residential transit-oriented development for a community development organization. For a corporate client, he negotiated a preferred equity investment in a major residential development adjacent to the central railroad station in Providence, Rhode Island. Matt frequently presents at urban planning and real estate industry conferences on the topics of land use regulation, New Urbanism, and smart growth.

    Pro Bono

    Matt has long-standing pro bono commitments. He serves as pro bono counsel for the Congress for the New Urbanism/New England Chapter, a smart growth and active mobility advocacy group. He also regularly provides advice on permitting, acquisition, financing, and corporate matters for the Southwest Boston Community Development Corporation, a non-profit development organization, on a pro bono basis.

    Before attending law school, Matt worked for Comsis Corporation in Silver Spring, Maryland, as a consulting transportation planner for local and state governments.

  • Experience
    • Experience


      • While representing a national bank, drafted, negotiated, and closed on senior back-to-back construction-to-permanent loan for the first phase of redevelopment for the Orient Heights public housing project in East Boston, Massachusetts.

      • Negotiated preferred equity investment in major residential development adjacent to the central railroad station in central Providence, Rhode Island.

      • Represented solar power investment company in the local permitting and site acquisition aspects of membership interest purchase transaction for 13.5 MW solar generation facilities in Westport, Massachusetts.

      • Represented solar power investment company in initial foray into Massachusetts solar generation market. Areas within scope of assistance included review of local permitting, site acquisition, and PILOT agreement for facility located at Middletown, Massachusetts.

      • Ongoing representation over past several years of municipal redevelopment and economic development authority in all aspects of several new development ground lease transactions for development of parcel in Boston, as follows:

        Southwest Corridor/South End/Roxbury – Melnea Hotel and Residences – 108-room hotel and 50 residential rental units, of which 7 will be affordable, and 4300 SF of ground floor retail, with accessory off-street parking;

        Raymond L. Flynn Marine Park in South Boston – Innovation Square at 6 Tide Street 122,000 SF lab/research facility, half of which has been subleased to Mass. Innovation Labs; the relocation of Cannistraro Industries, a major specialty sheet metal producer, from suburban Boston to 25 Fid Kennedy Way to occupy a previously abandoned industrial structure; and the current negotiations for an approximately 294,000 SF speculative office building to be located at the intersection of Drydock Avenue and Summer Street; and

        Charlestown Navy Yard – Parcel 39A, a new, ground-up building containing 54 residential units; and the Ropewalk, a major historic rehabilitation project with 97 residential rental units and publicly-accessible “flirtation walk” and exhibit space related to the historic rope-making activities at the site.

      • Represented Eurovest Development, the designated redeveloper of a major public-private transit-oriented mixed use development in Revere, Massachusetts, in all aspects of the development, including negotiation of the Master Development Agreement with the City of Revere, negotiation of air rights and ground lease rights lease with the Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority for a portion of the project site, coordination of the procurement and construction of a 1,955 space garage to serve MBTA riders and the development, and coordination of all due diligence, permitting, and financing of the project.

      • Represented borrower/developer/guarantor team on the development, permitting, and then construction to permanent senior financing and soft subordinate financing for a 27-unit all affordable transit-oriented development in the Hyde Park neighborhood of Boston. The project, adjacent to the Fairmount station on the MBTA’s Fairmount/Readville Commuter Rail line, is the first new transit-oriented development in this part of Boston in several decades and the first ground-up construction project for long-term firm client Southwest Boston CDC.

      • Represented developer of multiunit condominium project in the Allston neighborhood of Boston in successful proceedings before the Boston Landmarks Commission under the city's demolition delay ordinance. Developer ultimately obtained demolition permit and avoided landmarking petition by neighbors.
      • Represented hotel owner/operator in obtaining necessary municipal approvals for a major interior renovation of a property located in Boston’s Groundwater Conservation Overlay District.

      • Represented national self-storage company in obtaining necessary local approvals for location of moving vehicle rental at an existing facility in a Boston suburb.
      • Represented a major real estate investment trust in land use permitting analysis in connection with the acquisition of an under-construction, 330-unit multifamily development in a southern suburb of Boston.
      • Represented start-up litigation support company in initial lease and subsequent expansion for approximately 6,700 square feet at financial district location.
      • Represented high-tech personnel evaluation software and service provider in relocation from South Shore to approximately 14,000 square feet of space in downtown Boston.
      • Represented residential property owners on the development of new roof decks on abutting property in the South End of Boston.
      • Represented lender on the workout related re-phasing and re-positioning of a major mixed-use development in the northern suburbs of Boston.

      • Advised the City of Lowell, Massachusetts, regarding the development of the Hamilton Canal District Form-Based Code (HCD FBC). Robinson & Cole’s primary responsibilities included reviewing and suggesting revisions to the code as it was developed, drafting and advising the City on administrative and implementation procedures, and providing a legal analysis of the final HCD FBC’s consistency with state zoning and subdivision law.
      • Advised transportation authority on title and transactional matters related to acquiring certain temporary and permanent interests in real estate with certain municipalities in eastern Massachusetts for accessibility improvements, including new elevators, in connection with the authority's settlement of a disabled patron accessibility class lawsuit. Work included extensive title research, preparation of title reports delineating the authority’s current and proposed interests at the stations, and successful completion of contract negotiations through memorandums of agreement with each municipality.

      • Advised transportation authority regarding title and transactional aspects of acquisition of real estate rights from public and private owners for construction of new elevators and station renovations regarding selected station accessibility program. This project included negotiation of memorandums of agreement and preparation of in-depth title reports on the statutory and record title basis for authority’s interests at the stations.
      • Advised transportation authority regarding release by a municipality in eastern Massachusetts of certain Article 97 lands in public parkland for the construction of the new surface-to-subway elevator in connection with the authority's settlement of a disabled patron accessibility class lawsuit.

      • Representation of developer in the zoning relief process for a 22-unit, mixed-income residential development in the Roslindale neighborhood of Boston on behalf of the Roslindale Field Development Corporation, a joint venture of Southwest Boston Community Development Corporation and Urban Edge Housing Corporation.
      • Collaborated with a community foundation in a Midwestern U.S. city on implementation of urban design element for the city's master plan, including substantial amendments to the city's zoning and subdivision codes to produce better urban design and development forms.

      • Assisted local counsel in successful defense of final plan approval for 20-story high-rise development in the town center of Columbia, Maryland. Zoning Board of Appeals hearing examiner ruled that neighbor appellants (some of whom were direct abutters) lacked standing.
      • Represented commercial landlord in a 42,000-square foot lease to a major national clothing and accessories retailer in western Massachusetts. In related transactions, represented landowner in finalizing tax increment financing and negotiating a parking agreement for the property.
      • Represented a national bank in its role as a lender for the Cambridge Housing Authority's (CHA) first four Rental Assistance Demonstration (RAD) conversion deals. The bank closed the tax-exempt bond financing for 511 units of public housing conversions under HUD's RAD program. The RAD program was created to give public housing authorities a tool to preserve and improve public housing properties by restructuring HUD subsidies into long-term contracts that facilitate the private financing of improvements. These first four transactions were part of a long-term project to convert all 2,129 of CHA's public housing units to RAD. 

      • Drafted, negotiated, and closed on acquisition and financing of existing 8-unit multi-family property in Roslindale, Massachusetts, representing the first real estate acquisition by the client.

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    • Professional Associations

      Professional Associations

      Boston Bar Association
      Council Member (2022 - Current)
      Past Co-Chair Real Estate Law Section, Member of Section Steering Committee

      Congress for the New Urbanism
      Board Clerk of New England Chapter

      Citizens' Housing and Planning Association

      Form-Based Codes Institute
      Member, Steering Committee

      Greater Boston Chamber of Commerce
      Leadership Program Fellow (2019) and Member, Regional Real Estate Development Leadership Council
    • Honors + Awards

      Honors + Awards

      Recognized by Boston magazine as a Top Lawyer in 2022 and 2021. 

      Board Distinguished Service Award, Southwest Boston Community Development Corporation

      Selected by his peers for inclusion in The Best Lawyers in America© in the area of Real Estate Law since 2019 and in the area of Land Use and Zoning Law for 2021 and 2022.

      Selected to the Massachusetts Super Lawyers list from 2018 to 2021.

      Selected as a Rising Star to the Massachusetts Super Lawyers list in 2008 and from 2010 to 2011.

      Robinson+Cole Pro Bono Service Award Recipient, 2016

      WalkBoston Golden Shoe Award, 2018

    • Community Involvement

      Community Involvement

      City of Boston
      Affordable Housing Advisory Committee (2023)

      Board Clerk

      Walkable Urban Place Roslindale, Inc.
      Co-Founder and Board President

      StreetsblogMASS, Inc.
      Co-Founder and Board Member
    • Publications


      "Massachusetts enacts H. 4647 during COVID-19 state of emergency," co-authored with Kristen E. Spirou and Kendra L. Berardi, published in the New England Real Estate Journal (5/8/2020)
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      "Getting down to specifics for Boston's growth zones," published in REBA News, a publication of the Real Estate Bar Association of Massachusetts (March 2015)
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      "Tweaking the System: Getting Projects Built and Codes Changed within the Existing Framework," coauthor of chapter 3 in A Legal Guide to Urban and Sustainable Development, Wiley & Sons, Inc. (2008)

      "LEED-ND Pilot Rating System Establishes New Building Guidelines," published in Banker & Tradesman (2/11/2008)

      A Legal Guide to Urban and Sustainable Development for Planners, Developers, and Architects (2008)

      "Helping Communities Make Their Regulations Work for Mixed Use" (Parts 1 & 2) coauthored with Brian Blaesser (12/2007 and 1/2008) published in Retail Law Strategist
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      "Governor Patrick Signs Legislation to Exempt Landlocked Tidelands from Chapter 91 Licensing," published in New England Chapter of the Congress for the New Urbanism, co-authored with Karl P. Baker (Winter 2007)

      "Helping Communities Make Their Regulations Work for Mixed Use," published in Retail Law Strategist, co-authored with Brian W. Blaesser, (Parts 1 & 2) (12/2007 and 1/2008)

      "Chapter 40R: A Good Law Made Better Finally Starts Showing Results," (Fall 2006)
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      "Legal Issues in Land Development/Recent Developments in the Law," comments offered to the Boston Society of Civil Engineers, focusing on eminent domain and regulatory takings, Boston, Massachusetts (5/31/2006)

      "Chapter 40R: A New Mechanism for Encouraging Housing Construction," published in Massachusetts Lawyers Weekly, co-authored with Michael S. Giaimo (12/2004)

    • Presentations


      "Reimagining The Urban Footprint: Meeting The Needs Of The New World," (1/26/2021)
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      "Focus on Housing II: Views from the Practitioner, Grassroots, and Advocate Perspective," at the Boston Bar Association's 2020 Real Estate Conference (2/6/2020)
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      "Speed Networking with Real Estate Lawyers," co-presented with Timothy C. Twardowski, at the Boston Bar Association-hosted event. (11/18/2019)
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      "How Can the Federal Government Encourage Housing Development?” and “YIMBY as a political movement," during the 2018 YIMBYtown conference in Roxbury, Massachusetts (9/20/2018)
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      "Ground Leasing with Governmental Entities," co-panelist at CLE event sponsored by the Boston Bar Association in Boston, MA. (6/18/2018)
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      "Ground Leasing," co-presenter, hosted by the Real Estate Finance Association (4/24/2018)
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      "Anatomy of a Development Project, Session II: State and Local Permitting," panelist, with David Linhart, Goulston & Storrs, P.C., Boston Bar Association. (2/23/2018)

      "Equitable Transportation: Improving Mobility Without Moving People Out," presenter and panel moderator, with Stacy Thompson, Livable Streets Alliance; Adi Nochur, WalkBoston; and Tiffany Cogell, Boston Project Ministries, at the CNU New England Urbanism Summit, Boston, MA. (3/31/2017)

      "Citizen-led and Citizen-supported Change: There’s No Substitute for Showing Up," presenter and panel moderator, with Jesse Kanson-Benanav, A Better Cambridge; Mandana Moshtaghi, WalkUP Roslindale; and Sandy Levine, Conservation Law Foundation, at the CNU New England Urbanism Summit, Providence, RI. (4/28/2016)

      "BBA/CLE - Commercial Leasing Basics," Instructor, with Peter Cahill, FisherBroyles LLP, and Susan Kincaid, WilmerHale LLP, Boston Bar Association, Boston, MA. (10/17/2015)

      "Negotiating & Drafting Office & Retail Leases," presented MCLE seminar; examined similarities, differences, issues, and negotiated solutions of office and retail leasing transactions (4/23/2013)

      "Context-Based Zoning and Other Innovative Tools," at Southern New England American Planning Association Conference: Planning at the Crossroads, Panelist (9/2012)

      "The ABCs of Form-Based Codes & FBC301: Completing, Adopting, and Administering Code," Course Instructor (May 2011)

      "Affordable Housing Law (Chapter 40B)," at Boston Bar Association Real Estate Section, moderator (September 2010)

      "An Introduction to Form-Based Codes," at the Zoning Reform Working Group of the Massachusetts Smart Growth Alliance, Boston, Massachusetts (11/25/2008)

      "Omaha by Design," at the Annual Conference of the American Planning Association (4/2008)

      "Site Acquisition: Negotiating and Drafting the Purchase and Sale of Real Property," at Lorman Education Seminar on Real Estate Development in Massachusetts from Beginning to End in Dedham, Massachusetts (11/16/2007)

      "Site Selection and Due Diligence," at Lorman Education Seminar on Real Estate Development in Massachusetts from Beginning to End in Dedham, Massachusetts (11/16/2007)

      "New Urbanism, Conventional Zoning, and Form-Based Codes," at the CNU 101 seminar in Peterborough, New Hampshire, sponsored by the New England Chapter of the Congress for the New Urbanism (10/2007)

      "Chapter 205 of the Acts of 2006 - The Expedited and Streamlined Permitting Law," at roundtable discussion with David Sterrett, Boston Bar Association's Land Use Development Committee (10/3/2006)
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      "Smart Growth Overlays Join Chapter 40B: Massachusetts Goes for the Carrot to Encourage Denser Housing Development," at Lorman Education Seminar on Advanced Zoning and Land Use in Massachusetts, Worcester, Massachusetts (8/4/2006)
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      "Special Zoning Districts and Provisions in Boston," at Lorman Education Seminar on Advanced Zoning and Land Use in Massachusetts (Boston Focus), Boston, Massachusetts (12/2/2005)

      "New Urbanism, Smart Growth, TOD and Form-Based Coding: Can They Really Work in Massachusetts," at Lorman Education Seminar on Advanced Zoning and Land Use in Massachusetts, co-presented with George Proakis, City of Lowell (8/2005)

      "Anti-Snob Zoning and Smart Growth Overlays: The Yin and Yang of Multifamily Housing Development in Massachusetts," at Lorman Education Seminar on Advanced Zoning and Land Use - Massachusetts (8/2005)

      "The New Chapter 40R: Massachusetts Tries to Encourage Smart Growth through Incentives for Higher Density Residential and Mixed-Use Zoning," at Smart Policies for Smart Design Session at the Congress for New Urbanism - New England Chapter First Annual Conference, Placemaking in New England, co-presented with Sarah Young, deputy director of policy, Massachusetts Department of Housing and Community Development (4/2005)

    • News

      R+C in the News

      • April 13, 2023

        Matt Lawlor Selected to Serve on Mayor Wu’s Advisory Committee on Affordable Housing

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      • December 13, 2022

        Boston Magazine Names Six R+C Lawyers as Top Lawyers 2022

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      • September 8, 2022

        Matt Lawlor Elected to Boston Bar Association Council

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      • December 13, 2021

        Boston Magazine Names Seven R+C Lawyers as a Top Lawyer 2021

      • July 21, 2021

        Professional Development Committee Presents Alumnae In-House Counsel Panel

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      • August 19, 2020

        Matt Lawlor Featured in Best Lawyers 2020 New England Article on Affordable Housing Shortage in Boston

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      • May 10, 2020

        Matt Lawlor, Kendra Berardi, and Kristen Elia Author Article on Massachusetts Moratorium Published in New England Real Estate Journal

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      • February 8, 2019

        Boston Office Attends Annual John & Abigail Adams Benefit Ball

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      • January 29, 2019

        Matt Lawlor Accepted into Greater Boston Chamber Fellowship Program for Advanced Leaders

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      • October 18, 2018

        51 Robinson+Cole Lawyers Recognized by Super Lawyers®

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      • October 4, 2018

        Matt Lawlor Moderates Two Programs During Boston YIMBYtown

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      • August 20, 2018

        52 Robinson+Cole Lawyers Listed in The Best Lawyers in America© 2019

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      • June 26, 2018

        Matt Lawlor Presents CLE Program on Ground Leasing with Governmental Entities

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      • April 30, 2018

        Matt Lawlor Presents Program on Ground Leasing for Real Estate Finance Association

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      • February 14, 2018

        Boston Lawyers Attend Annual John & Abigail Adams Benefit

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      • January 31, 2017

        Boston Lawyers Attend Annual John & Abigail Adams Benefit

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      • October 10, 2016

        Matt Lawlor Selected by the Boston Bar Association as “The Most Interesting Lawyer of the Week”

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      • December 18, 2015

        Boston Lawyers Participate in 2015 WomenUp Event

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      • April 17, 2015

        Robinson+Cole Represents National Bank in HUD Rental Assistance Demonstration Conversion Deals with Cambridge Housing Authority

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      • April 6, 2015

        Matt Lawlor Publishes Article for REBA News

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      • December 19, 2014

        Boston Lawyers Address WomenUp Event

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      • August 14, 2014

        Robinson+Cole Lawyers Host Networking Event at 2014 ABA Annual Meeting

      • November 4, 2013

        Boston Lawyers Represent R&C at CHAPA's Annual Dinner

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      • May 15, 2013

        Real Estate Lawyer Chairs MCLE Seminar

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      • September 18, 2012

        Land Use Lawyers Speaking at 2012 Southern New England American Planning Association Conference

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      • November 14, 2011

        Robinson & Cole Client Breaks Ground on New Medical Facility in Boston

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      • May 17, 2011

        Land Use Attorney Teaches the ABCs of Form-Based Codes

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      • October 19, 2010

        Land Law Attorney Delivers Presentation on Form-Based Code Legal Issues at American Planning Association Conference

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      • October 5, 2010

        Attorneys Help Launch Boston Bar Association Real Estate Section Season

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      • June 10, 2010

        Robinson & Cole Land Use Attorneys Host “Smart Growth” Webinar

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      • September 17, 2009

        Robinson & Cole Attorneys Participate in Panel Discussion for Boston Bar Association

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      • October 27, 2008

        Robinson & Cole Land Use Attorney Participates at 2008 Fall Council Meeting of ABA Section

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      • September 5, 2008

        Robinson & Cole Attorney Appointed Co-Chair of BBA's Land Use & Development Committee

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      • May 13, 2008

        Robinson & Cole Attorney Serves as Panel Member and Presenter at Omaha by Design

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      • February 15, 2008

        Robinson & Cole Land Use Attorney's Article Featured in Banker & Tradesman

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      R+C News Releases

      • August 17, 2023

        78 Robinson+Cole Lawyers Listed in The Best Lawyers in America© 2024

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      • August 18, 2022

        74 Robinson+Cole Lawyers Listed in The Best Lawyers in America 2023

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      • October 14, 2021

        Robinson+Cole Lawyers Recognized by Super Lawyers®

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      • August 19, 2021

        65 Robinson+Cole Lawyers Listed in The Best Lawyers in America© 2022

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      • October 15, 2020

        47 Robinson+Cole Lawyers Recognized in Super Lawyers®

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      • August 20, 2020

        61 Robinson+Cole Lawyers Listed in The Best Lawyers in America© 2021

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        • View article
      • October 19, 2019

        52 Robinson+Cole Lawyers Recognized by Super Lawyers®

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        • View article
      • August 15, 2019

        57 Robinson+Cole Lawyers Listed in The Best Lawyers in America© 2020

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      • April 18, 2018

        Matt Lawlor Recognized for Commitment to Enhancing Boston Walking Environment

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      • September 13, 2016

        Robinson+Cole Presents Annual Awards for Dedication and Outstanding Contributions

      • June 11, 2015

        Robinson+Cole Lawyer To Serve as Co-chair of Boston Bar Association Section

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      • December 11, 2013

        Robinson & Cole Elects Four New Partners and Promotes Six Counsel

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    • Legal Updates/Newsletters

      Legal Updates/Newsletters

      "Massachusetts SJC Sheds Light on Zoning Protection for Solar Facilities in Tracer Lane II Realty, LLC v. City of Waltham" co-authored with Jessica D. Bardi and Michael S. Giaimo (6/7/2022)

      "Multi-Family Zoning Requirement for MBTA Communities" co-authored with Jessica D. Bardi, Timothy C. Twardowski, Michael S. Giaimo and Kurt S. Stiegel (2/2/2022)

      "Massachusetts Extends Moratorium on Certain Evictions and Foreclosures" co-authored with Kristen E. Spirou (7/27/2020)

      "Massachusetts Enacts H. 4647 – Establishing Broad Eviction and Foreclosure Moratorium During COVID-19 State of Emergency" co-authored with Kendra L. Berardi and Kristen E. Spirou (4/21/2020)

      "An Act to Address Challenges Faced by Municipalities and State Authorities Resulting from COVID-19" co-authored with Jessica D. Bardi, Michael S. Giaimo and Timothy C. Twardowski (4/13/20)