BBA Spotlight Series - Get to Know Boston's Rising Stars

Seth Pearson

Over the next several weeks, we're spotlighting rising stars in Boston law to highlight the work they do, and the people and moments that have shaped their legal careers thus far. We caught up with Cooley Associate, Seth Pearson, to hear more about his work as a Corporate Transactions Attorney and his active pro-bono practice which focuses on social and racial justice organization's transactional work.

Seth Pearson's head shot

What inspired you to become a lawyer? Specifically, with your focus in corporate transactions?

My journey into the legal profession was definitely “circuitous” to put it best. I made a tremendous number of poor choices in my formative years that led to me being arrested on three separate occasions, kicked out of college twice, evicted, homeless and living in my car on the streets of Atlanta. At my heaviest I weighed over 520lbs and was the largest person people knew in real life. I had made so many mistakes that at some point I gave up on the hope of ever becoming anyone of great repute. It was on my 28th birthday that I hit my lowest point, I remember praying that night and asking God to give me a chance to repair the things I had broken. I knew I couldn’t fix everything, but I could fix something. I spent the next few years fighting back and making incremental changes to improve my life. Eventually I went on to graduate from Georgia State with my BBA in Finance, joined the Obama Administration as a White House Intern in the Executive Office of the President, after which I joined a firm called Crawford & Company as a business analyst on their global finance team and lost 330lbs. But it was my acceptance into the TRIALS program at Harvard Law that really solidified my foray into the legal profession. Law school had always been on my radar but I had no real concept of what a lawyer did or why I wanted to be one until I was accepted to TRIALS. Through that program my LSAT score jumped 27 points making me eligible for law schools I had formerly only dreamed about and taught me all the different ways that lawyers affect the socio-economic and political landscape of this country and the world. I knew I wanted to be a part of the solution instead of playing the sidelines and a legal education would equip me to be able to become a part of the conversations that would change things in my community, my country and the world.

What advice would you give to new lawyers entering the profession?

My best advice to new lawyers is to find a way to understand and instill in themselves an unflappable appreciation for their position as the gatekeepers of justice. Sometimes we forget how essential our jobs are to society. Our actions and decisions determine outcomes that affect people’s lives and we need to make sure that we always hold close to our chest the responsibility that being a zealous advocate entails. Be proud of the profession you have chosen and respect the gravity of what we have been commissioned to do.

According to your bio, you maintain an active pro bono practice advising social and racial justice organizations. Can you tell us what drew you to this specific pro bono practice and why it is important to you?

Even though I am a corporate attorney with a focus on emerging company and venture capital work in New England and the surrounding area, I am also unapologetically black. I am incredibly proud of my firm Cooley LLP for not only allowing, but encouraging me to grow my pro-bono practice. I spend around 15-20% of my time on social and racial justice organization transactional work. Cooley has allowed me to build deal teams for my pro-bono clients comparable to any deal team we would put together for our billable clients. Because my firm has uncapped pro-bono hours it allows me to give the same level of service to my pro-bono clients that I give to our billable clients. This was an important factor in choosing my firm. Pro-bono work is so important for those of us who primarily work in the corporate space. It allows us to use our unique skills and learnings to service and give back to communities who would typically be foreclosed to this kind of legal advocacy. I’m currently assisting a nonprofit organization with onboarding their new executive director, redrafting their bylaws, and implementing new sexual harassment and discrimination policies. I have another client that is merging with another nonprofit and that has allowed me to utilize all the skills I would employ in a traditional M&A transaction, but now in a nonprofit context. It is incredibly important to be actively engaged in assisting and advocating for black and brown communities, especially as a Boston resident. None of us get to play the sidelines anymore, either you are in this fight and using your skills and resources to change the world for the better or you are against that effort. I am proud to be fully engaged in the fight for equity and equality and love that I get to do that at work every day.

Is there anything else we should know about you?

Thanks for recognizing me in this way. I am invested in the success of not only myself and my firm, but Boston as a city, and particularly pushing the legal community here into becoming what I know it has the potential to be. I’m so excited about what’s next for all of us!