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Lokvani Talks To Attorney Neil Sherring

Ranjani Saigal

Attorney Neil Sherring is the Managing Partner at Dakoyannis, Curtin and Sherring. He is a trial lawyer with extensive experience in both state and federal courts. His Practice is concentrated in the areas of civil and business litigation. As a lawyer he has had a stellar career. He has briefed and presented oral arguments in cases before the United States Court of Appeals for the First Circuit, the Supreme Judicial Court of Massachusetts and the Massachusetts Court of Appeals. He has served as a Judicial Law Clerk for the Justices of the Massachusetts Superior Court, Assistant District Attorney for the Northwestern District of Massachusetts, and Assistant Attorney General for the Commonwealth. Before starting his own firm he was a Litigation Associate for the firm of Mintz, Levin, Cohen, Ferris, Glovsky and Popeo, P.C.

Sherring received his B.A. cum laude in 1985 from Curry College and his J.D. in 1993 from Suffolk University Law School. He volunteers his time for many important causes. He currently serves as a Trustee for the Curry College Alumni Board of Trustees. He is very active in the different Indian American organizations. He is a member of the Board of Advisors to United India. He is member of the Hate Crimes Task Force for the Attorney General of Massachusetts. In the past he has been a Executive Board member of the Indian American Forum for Political Education He was the former President of the Network of South Asian Professionals. He is the Co-Founder of the South Asian Domestic Violence Task Force.

Growing up in the suburbs of Greater Boston in a typically Indian American family, Sherring attributes his success to the strong family and community support that he has received all his life. He talked to Lokvani about his life and career.

Lokvani: Your mother is a doctor and yet you chose to ignore the popular Indian American career choice of becoming a doctor? Why?

Neil: My father is a Professor Emeritus of Sociology at Curry College in Milton, Mass. My parents were very open and encouraged us to excel in any field we chose. I did do my undergraduate in Physics. But later law grabbed my interest. When I was in law school I competed in a trial competition and that gave me an insight into what it really is to try a case. I was very fortunate to land a Judicial Clerkship at the Massachusetts Superior Court. I was selected from a pool of about 500 applicants. In this position I was able to watch some of our State’s best trial lawyers at work. I think that inspired me to take on “Trial Law” as a career.

Lokvani: What is the focus of your law firm?

Neil : We are a full service law firm with concentrations in real estate, landlord and tenant matters, personal injury, business and corporate law, estate planning, and civil litigation. Our client base includes individuals, small business owners, mid level business owners, banks and multi-national corporations.

Having said this I would like to add that we are affiliated with several firms throughout the state including those that concentrate in immigration. Our firm has the right contacts with people in the New England area and hence we can really get things done efficiently. I still work on a number of cases with my former firm Mintz-Levin which is a very large Boston based national firm..

Lokvani: Is life for a trial lawyer quite like what see on TV Court shows?

Neil : What you see on TV is obviously very dramatic. What you see in an hour is often the result of two to three years of work done by lawyers.

Lokvani: What was it like growing up in New England when there were not too many Indian Americans around?

Neil: Life was certainly different then. My parents came to Boston in 1958. Growing up, there were only a few Indians in my school.. But I think the great support I received at home made it rather easy for me.

Lokvani: Did you find being an Indian American as a handicap as you were climbing your career ladder?

Neil: I viewed it as an opportunity. When you are from a minority group you are noticed. If you have the attention on you, you must excel. But the attention also gives you the opportunity to prove yourself. As an Indian Assistant Attorney General , when I researched issues and wrote amicus briefs on behalf of the Attorney General and argued and briefed cases in the Massachusetts Appeals Court, the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court and the United States Court of Appeals for the First Circuit, I was fortunate enough to get recognition I worked very hard and tried to do the best I can and that brought its rewards.

Lokvani: What special opportunities did it present to you?

Neil: After serving as a state-wide prosecutor, I wanted to go into private practice and I was offered the position of Litigation Associate with Mintz- Levin. There I worked with really good people. I had the opportunity to represent Multinational firms and work on many important and high profile cases. My goal has always been to start my own law firm and getting this position was good stepping stone.

Lokvani: Lokvani: It is wonderful to see that you view your being an Indian American as your strength. But we also have witnessed the hate crimes against Indians in the recent past. What can we, as a community, do to keep such acts from happening?

Neil: I am a member of the Hate Crimes Task Force for the Attorney General of Massachusetts. My strong recommendation is that we as a community remain active politically, socially and philanthropically. Our strength is our community and the more we work together in a united manner, the better it is. When the attack happened in Lowell, the community was able to come together rather quickly and requested immediate action. That was very important.

Lokvani: Do you have political ambitions?

Neil: Not currently, though I do not rule it out. I have great admiration for people like Ramesh Advani, the Indian American selectman from Norfolk. I have worked with the Scott Harshbarger and Tom Reilly campaigns so I can appreciate Mr. Advani’s accomplishments.

Lokvani: You are the Co-founder of the South Asian Domestic Violence Task Force. Could you tell us a little about how that came to be?

Neil : I was doing some volunteer work for a battered women’s coalition when I met Nalina Narayan, who was the Executive director for the Coalition of Batters Woman Services and the Jane Doe Safety Fund. As I got more involved in the process, the two of us felt a great need for services that were specific to South Asian women. One example is the need for an interpreter who can speak Indian languages. There are times when the women who are suffering do not know English or the individuals within the system (prosecutors, victim advocates, etc.) are not familiar with the cultural issues. This led us to forming this task force so that we can address such concerns.

Lokvani: What can someone do to help a person who is suffering from domestic violence?

Neil: The most important thing to do is get the person out of the situation into a safe environment. Contact community organizations like Saheli to find support. The state has Jane Doe safety fund, which can help provide some help. The police and the district attorney’s office also have a Victim Witness Advocate program that can help connect victims with appropriate support groups.

Lokvani: Any message for students who are thinking of law as a career?

Neil:. Law is a tremendously rewarding career. It allows you to help people and make a difference. Work hard and try to be the best you can. I would be happy to act as a mentor to any student who needs my help.

Lokvani: To what do you attribute your success?

Neil: There is a famous saying “If you see a turtle on the top of a lamppost, you know it did not get there by itself.” I think it is valid analogy for my accomplishments. The support I receive from my family and the community is tremendous. Personally for me, my mother, father and sister, Asha, have provided great support as I was growing up. Since my marriage, my wife, Yoshika and her family have also given me great support. Yoshika has started her own company called, Arrow Nuclear Strategies, Inc, a biotech consulting firm and despite her busy schedule provides a great deal of support.

Lokvani: What does the future hold for you?

Neil: We are expecting our first baby. I am eagerly looking forward to fatherhood.

Lokvani: Thank you for taking the time to talk to us.

Neil : My pleasure.

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