MEET THE MANAGING PARTNER: Q&A with Goodwin’s New Managing Partner, Mark Bettencourt

On October 1, Mark Bettencourt, Goodwin’s former Business Law Department Chair took over as the firm’s new Managing Partner, replacing Robert Insolia, who had served as the Managing Partner since 2012 and who has now stepped into the Chairman role. We caught up with Mark to find out more about his new role, and what the future holds for the firm.

What inspired you to become a lawyer?

The interesting story is not why I became a lawyer, but how I became a corporate lawyer. Growing up, my mother had two uncles who were lawyers and each had an outsized presence in my extended family. In some distant way, they were professional role models. Both enjoyed professional success and one served as the U.S. attorney for Rhode Island and later on the First Circuit Court of Appeals.

Naturally, after my first year of law school, I ended up working on interrogatory summaries while in a summer associate program at a firm here in Boston. I remember sitting in an internal office at the end of a long hallway with no air circulation and thinking this work was not for me. So, during my summer associateship after my second year, I explored a corporate practice. I immediately enjoyed it and was fascinated by the transactional world about which up to that point I knew literally nothing. From that great feeling the entire team experiences when closing a deal to the collaborative and interpersonal nature of the work, I knew it was the perfect fit.

What makes Goodwin stand out?

It’s the people. We are a collection of very passionate, driven and client-centric individuals who are as interesting as our amazing clients. The zeal we bring to the practice and the business of law, our focus on our clients’ success, and our curiosity about our clients’ businesses make Goodwin a truly unique firm. 

What do you see as priorities or opportunities for Goodwin in the coming years?

Our objective is to be among the select few premier global law firms. We work towards it by empowering our clients to harness the many opportunities that are being produced by the forces of technological disruption. As the firm at the intersection of capital and innovation, we are uniquely positioned to help our clients capitalize on this disruption. It is our biggest priority.   

What industries here in Boston is Goodwin focused on in particular?

Boston is a prime example of a place where innovation and technological disruption are causing many industries and investors to converge. We are seeing tremendous opportunities in Boston across the fintech, proptech, medtech, internet-of-things, autonomous vehicles, artificial intelligence and robotics sectors, to name just a few. Our work across these rapidly-evolving, multi-disciplinary areas spans transactional execution, litigation and advisory services.

How do you think Boston’s legal community has changed in recent years?

The past several years have made it clear that Boston is no longer immune to and separate from the forces of the global legal market. The city has attracted the intense focus of many fine firms that have not been previously present in Boston, and the competition for talent has become absolutely fierce. It is undoubtedly the case that Boston is the global epicenter for life sciences innovation and a leading center of other technological innovation. This level of innovation makes Boston one of a few places where from a business perspective you have to be in the 21st century and, as a result, a magnet for talented people and smart investors from across the globe. Like its effect on the region has a whole, innovation has transformed the Boston legal community.

What advice would you give to new lawyers?

I will share what I tell all of Goodwin’s new lawyers. Think of the beginning of your legal career as akin to an apprenticeship. Work hard, lean in, keep your eyes open and ears perked. Learn as much as you possibly can. The more attentive you are, the more successful you will be. 

What are your thoughts on the Boston Bar Association’s role in Boston’s legal and business community?

The fast pace of the practice of law has made it more difficult to do the things that make our profession feel cohesive. As former Co-Chair of the BBA’s Business Law Section, I know firsthand how the Boston Bar Association reinforces the commonality and the shared attributes that we have as members of the same profession. It is a natural place for all of us and at all points in our careers to come together and form a community.

When a client comes to Boston and they aren’t familiar with the city, where do like to take them?

I hope they come between April and October, in which case I would take them to Fenway Park. It is one of my favorite places on earth. Otherwise, everything depends on how we are spending the time together. For a meal, it is likely the North End. For an afternoon walk before getting on a redeye to Europe, it is a walk in the Public Gardens or down Commonwealth Avenue in the Back Bay. Boston is such a great city. There is no shortage of neighborhoods, restaurants or experiences to share with our visitors.

Is there anything else we should know about you?

I am a big history buff. As such, it is particularly interesting to observe not only the effects of technology and innovation on our society and business today, but to think of how the rapid pace of innovation will affect us tomorrow. We are still in the early innings of this period of profound transformation. I am thrilled about how well Goodwin is positioned to help our current and future clients through the opportunities this transformation promises.