Lawyer Personifies Excellence
Serving on the Political Science Alumni Advisory Board, says Attorney Howard L. Levin ’75 (political science), “will be an interesting and energizing way to give back to UMass Amherst. In fact, the more I learn about other colleges as my own children make their college selections, the more I appreciate UMass Amherst. Its size allows for many options, thereby attracting a very diverse student body. Currently I have three kids attending three different colleges, including UMass Amherst, and I continue to be impressed by the strong and encouraging infrastructure that supports student development. UMass Amherst has the scale to provide a broad range of educational and living choices, yet it conveys the personalized feel of a smaller university.”
Levin, who specializes in commercial real estate and business law, practices with RichMay, a Boston law firm noted for excellence in representation and problem solving for clients ranging from the newest technology businesses to the most established regulated industries. Levin personifies that standard of excellence. For several years running, through a process of peer selection, he has been named to the group of elite lawyers in Massachusetts by Super Lawyers. Levin has a way of leaving marks of achievement on all of his endeavors.
A magna cum laude graduate of the UMass Amherst Honors Program, Levin went on to Duke University Law School, graduating in 1978. That year he also won first prize in the Southeastern Admiralty Law Institute competition for his paper “Arrests and Attachments in Admiralty: A Confrontation with Due Process.” Says Levin, “UMass Amherst gave me a terrific foundation for law school. It was the 1970s, and I was very interested in politics, political theory and history. The courses I took with Dean Alfange combined with several history courses with Howard Quint really challenged me and expanded my thinking.”
After law school, Levin joined the large Boston firm of Brown, Rudnick Freed & Gesmer, where he developed his expertise in real estate law. “The law,” says Levin, “can be extremely rewarding from both intellectual and financial standpoints, but with a cost. It takes a lot of work to be both a committed professional and to maintain a high level of involvement with kids and family. Especially in the large firms, the profession is intense and, in my opinion, has become more so. That’s why, after twenty years, I decided to seek out a more holistic environment. At RichMay I have found a better balance.”
Principally engaged in acquisition, development and leasing of commercial real estate throughout New England: retail, office, multifamily, and mixed-use developments, Levin also represents businesses in technology, medical products, engineering, manufacturing and other specialties. “A typical workday,” he says, “runs 10-12 hours of meetings, conference calls, review and drafting of documents, and negotiation of agreements, and almost always some exercise in between. I travel frequently to various development sites in the region, but try to get in a game of squash whenever I can. Achieving balance is my greatest challenge, almost every day.”
Active and health conscious, Levin is an avid skier, cyclist and squash player. “Discovering the game of squash after the age of 50 has improved the quality of my life in ways I could never have anticipated. Playing nearly everyday has given me greater energy, resilience and sense of well being.” Levin enjoys traveling, including kayaking in Idaho, snorkeling in Bermuda and exploring Europe, the Mideast and Africa, and has a special fondness for winter and summer in Vermont.
Levin also serves as a volunteer. As member of the UMass Amherst Political Science Advisory Board, he is an advocate for the department and assists the chair in fundraising to enhance programs, faculty and administrative support, and cutting edge research. In addition, Levin is a mentor for the MIT Venture Mentoring Service, supporting entrepreneurial activity throughout the MIT community, and an appointee of the Town of Lexington Board of Selectmen on the Lexington Center Committee and its zoning task force. He is a member of the International Council of Shopping Centers, a commercial real estate trade group of real estate development and management professionals.
Levin is a member of the Massachusetts and Boston Bar Associations; the Real Estate Bar Association; and the Abstract Club, a group of 125 top real estate attorneys and judges in Massachusetts that has been meeting regularly since the 19th century to discuss current legal issues affecting Massachusetts real estate. A past chair of the Real Estate Section of the Boston Bar Association, he has also led the Condominium and Cooperative Law Committee and continues to be active in several Boston Bar Association committees. As an appointee of a Massachusetts Land Court task force, Levin worked on revising Registered Land Regulations, and has been a frequent speaker at legal education programs. Active in community affairs and various charitable organizations, Levin lives with his wife and children in Lexington, Massachusetts.
Levin chose UMass Amherst because of its honors program. “It gave me great experiences with professors and small classes. Other important factors included the lower costs than other schools I was considering, a great location, and the breadth of majors and programs available.” While on campus Levin took several courses through the Five College Program (and strongly encourages current students to do the same). He also participated in the Washington Internship Program. “I spent nine months in Washington, D.C., working on Massachusetts Congressman Robert Drinan’s staff during the Nixon impeachment proceedings. It was a major life experience.”
Open mindedness, tenacity, intellectual curiosity and a capacity for hard work, Levin says, have been key elements in becoming a highly regarded lawyer. To students who are interested in moving forward in the law, he adds, “Learn to think, speak and write clearly. Try to differentiate between what is easy and what motivates you. Stay on top of the latest innovations available to you. Challenge conventional wisdom. Always look at all your options and try to play your strengths. Never stop learning.”