Massachusetts Bar Association
Family Law Section Member Spotlight
(Published Aug. 10, 2017)
William M. Driscoll, M.S., J.D.
Law Office of William M. Driscoll
William M. Driscoll, M.S., J.D. is a solo appeals attorney representing clients statewide, and at times, nationwide. His appellate mentor advised clerking and practicing in the various trial courts first, so as to fully understand the environment from which appellate cases originate and how trial court judges think. William clerked in the Probate and Family Court and the Appellate Tax Board during law school and later practicing a variety of legal topics. He has litigated, mediated, and negotiated a wide variety of legal issues including: business and contract law, divorce and family law, criminal defense, estate planning and probate, and gun law. He also practiced Social Security administrative law.
William is a frequent and valuable contributor to the Mass. Bar Association's "My Bar Access" forum and regularly assists colleagues with issues in many practice areas of the law. This has resulted in work spanning a wide variety of procedural and substantive areas, from personal injury, malpractice, and taxation to manufactured housing, great ponds, and zoning. He authored an article titled Rule 56(f): Precursor to a Substantive Opposition to Summary Judgment, 95 Mass. Law Rev. 171 (June 2013). After all, appeals are won in the trial court where the facts are determined, where errors must be preserved, and where jury instructions can rule the day.
William believes that unbiased appellate perspective enhances, but cannot replace, trial expertise. The best time to prepare for an appeal is in the trial court, where the trial lawyer's persuasive verbal skills reign. The practice of appellate law is equally discrete. Appellate litigation requires superior research and analytical skills as well as the tenacity to examine every issue from all angles. On appeal it is the written word, drafted for a unique audience, which reigns. Appellate works take large chunks of time, a premium unavailable to the busy, interrupt-driven trial attorney.
William's most notable family law appellate decision was Ventrice v. Ventrice, 87 Mass. App. Ct. 190 (2015). Ventrice protects the individual's free access to the courts without the need to purchase access to justice. There, a judge preconditioned the filing of a future complaint upon first engaging private-pay mediation services. But that precondition violated art. 11 of our Declaration of Rights which guarantees each person the right "to obtain right and justice freely, and without being obliged to purchase it; completely, and without any denial; promptly, and without delay; conformably to the laws." Also in Ventrice, the trial court's child custody order, which was supported by detailed findings, was remanded due to flawed substantive analysis.
Other cases change lives without notoriety. Swistak v. Stelmokas was an unpublished case where a surviving paternal grandparent's visitation rights were terminated because the trial court misinterpreted the statute and denied the grandmother due process. There, the mother was deceased, the father remarried, and the new wife adopted his child. The stepparent adoption occurred before the same judge as, and during the pendency of, the grandparent visitation litigation. The grandmother and her counsel learned of the stepparent adoption ninety-seconds before grandparent rights were terminated on the basis of statutory standing. The court was wrong, the judgment was vacated, and ultimately the grandmother achieved grandparent visitation rights.
William volunteers his time and energies to the pursuit of appellate excellence. He is a member of the MBA Appellate Bench Bar Committee, the Civil Litigation Section Counsel, and he judges the prestigious ABA National Appellate Advocacy Competition yearly. He gives back by providing equal access to justice as an active member of the Committee for Public Counsel Services Post-Conviction and Criminal Appeals Panel. For his alma mater he is an Alumni Ambassador and participates in other New England Law | Boston activities including student mentoring, appellate moot court coaching, and teaching.
William received his Juris Doctor cum laude from New England School of Law in 2004 and was presented with the President Anna E. Hirsch Award for outstanding service. He was Technical Editor of the New England Journal on Criminal and Civil Confinement. Prior to entering the law, William achieved award-winning notoriety in the field of electronic warfare, forensics and cyber security. He received his Master of Science in mathematics (operating system design, algorithms & number theory) from the University of Massachusetts and his Bachelor of Science from Worcester State College. William appreciates the value of hard work, perseverance, tenacity, and exactness to detail. These skills have helped to make William an outstanding appellate attorney.
The Family Law Section congratulates Attorney Driscoll for being selected for the MBA's Family Law Section Member Spotlight, and expresses its gratitude for his thoughtful and reasoned contributions to MyBarAccess and to the Section.