KEITH WHITCOMB JR.
BENNINGTON -- One of Vermont's newest attorneys was sworn into the Vermont Bar on Wednesday by one of Bennington's long-time judges; the two also happen to be father and son.
Judge David A. Howard swore his son, Gregory Howard, into the bar while standing in the Bennington Superior Court Family Division courtroom. The courthouse, or rather state office complex, is a newer version of the one where the elder Howard became a judge 15 years ago after a long career as an attorney with the Public Defender's Office. He is currently presiding in Bennington in the Family Court Division.
Gregory Howard is an associate attorney with Donovan & O'Connor, LLP, which has offices in Bennington and Massachusetts. Howard passed the Massachusetts bar exam in July 2011 and passed the Vermont exam in February 2012. In Vermont, to be sworn in, attorneys must complete a clerkship, which Howard has done at Donovan & O'Connor where he now works as an associate.
Gregory Howard said he developed his real interest for the legal system in college, and while his father, aunt, and uncle were all attorneys he never felt pushed toward the profession. "I've always, from a young age, had a lot of interest in it," he said. "Growing up you hear a lot of stories that are related to the law and just a lot of interesting problems different people encounter."
He said Vermont and Massachusetts laws do not differ much on the larger topics, and while he has been practicing in civil suits and some criminal matters in Massachusetts he plans to begin doing more in Vermont. "The major things are the same, but what makes it difficult are the little details," he said, referring to the technical aspects of each state's legal codes and procedures.
"It's really nice to see Greg working in the area," said Diane Howard, Gregory Howard's mother. She said her son and husband both attended Boston College Law School and while Gregory was in school he and his father had fun talking about some of the things they both experienced.
David Howard said, from speaking with his son, it does seem not much has changed at the school, except for maybe the tuition. He said many law schools are seeing lower enrollments because the job market for young attorneys has gone down but law school debt has risen significantly.
Howard said he has not told his son any secret techniques for being convincing with judges, but would tell any attorney that being prepared for court is key. "The biggest advice I'd give any young attorney is spend that extra time to be prepared," Howard said. "The judge may disagree with you but if you're prepared at least you'll get respect."
Donovan & O'Connor was founded in 1913 by Walter J. Donovan. Its partners include Donald Goodrich, Chris Dodig, Jay O'Connor, Danielle Fogarty and Stephen Narey as well as associate Buffy Lord. Its offices are in Bennington and North Adams, Mass., and Pittsfield, Mass.