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Taking the reins at K&L Gates’ Boston office

Baker still has goals for health care; State’s on board for East-West Rail?; A fish tale wins out; Dain finds partner on epic story of Boston

Chris Nasson, managing partner of Boston office of law firm K&L Gates.Chris Morris

As Chris Nasson gained more responsibilities at K&L Gates, he kept the same smaller office he’s had for five years. He’s not moving now that he’s overseeing the Pittsburgh-rooted law firm’s entire Boston operation.

And when the law firm relocates from One Lincoln to the tower planned at One Congress next year, Nasson won’t get a fancy office there, either. In the new space, he said, each attorney’s office will be the same size, reflecting a broader trend in the legal industry.

“The need for a giant office has eroded over time,” Nasson said. “I certainly don’t need one . . . The days of the massive corner office, with two couches and two desks, are coming to an end. For us, we know that’s the case.”


Nasson’s approach to office life reflects the humility with which he’s trying to approach his new job as Boston managing partner: At 41, he oversees about 100 lawyers in Boston and another 50 or so paralegals, assistants, and other support staffers. About half of the attorneys are older than him. His predecessor, Mark Haddad, had the managing partner job for more than 20 years. That’s longer than Nasson has been practicing law.

Nasson said he has tried to meet with everyone in the Boston office since taking over on March 1.

“It would be foolish not to sit down with people, and ask them, ‘What’s working, and what do you think could be working better?’” Nasson said. “I don’t think my age has been a challenge because I think my partners understand that I’m not coming at this from the perspective that I know this better than they do.”

He’ll have to balance his own litigation and white collar practice with his leadership responsibilities. His cases include representing an executive who is the target of a federal securities fraud investigation, and a company facing a federal grand jury probe into submissions made to the Food and Drug Administration.


“I’ve got a really active practice and I don’t want to take my foot off the gas,” Nasson said. “That’s been the juggling act.”

Baker makes the rounds one last time

Governor Charlie Baker made his first speech last week at the Greater Boston Chamber of Commerce in more than two years — in person, that is. And with his final term as governor coming to a close, Baker used the opportunity to stump for pending legislation at the State House.

In his appearance at the Westin Copley Place hotel, Baker rattled off several legislative priorities: a $9.7 billion infrastructure bond bill, a $750 million clean energy investment fund, a nearly $700 million tax cut proposal that would aid renters and change Massachusetts’ estate and short-term capital gains tax structures.

But Baker seemed to get the most applause by calling for help in passing a bill that would shift more of the state’s health care spending to primary care and mental health. He got interrupted by cheers as he was still winding up with “This is a nerdy, complicated bill [but] it’s the only way we’re going to get from where we are to where we need to go.”

After the applause died down, he went back to the closing that he was trying to land: “I’m going to fight like mad to make it happen.”


Greater Boston Chamber chief executive Jim Rooney asked Baker what he thought is the biggest threat to Massachusetts’ economic competitiveness. Baker’s answer: “Our cost of housing.”

He recalled how state officials tried to persuade Amazon to open its second headquarters here. Massachusetts made the shortlist. But in the end, Baker said, Amazon executives decided that housing was way too expensive here, the development process too tenuous. (Amazon ended up in Arlington, Va., just outside Washington.)

“In many ways, that’s our biggest headwind,” Baker said of the state’s high housing costs. “Our biggest tailwind is we’re still wicked smart, in a world where being wicked smart matters.”

Boarding now, for Springfield

It looks like it might finally be East-West Rail’s turn to leave the station. Is Charlie Baker finally climbing on board?

That’s what US Representative Richard Neal believes. The Springfield Democrat, who chairs the powerful House Ways and Means Committee, has long wanted to improve the lackluster train service between Springfield and Boston. He told a crowd at a New England Council meeting last week in Boston that the federal government’s new infrastructure law should bring something resembling commuter service between the two cities closer to reality.

Baker was once reluctant to embrace the multibillion-dollar project. In 2016, he even vetoed legislation that called for studying it, though he committed to a study two years later.

Proponents want support from the state Department of Transportation — which answers to Baker, at least until he steps down nearly a year from now — to seek the federal funds for the necessary track improvements, particularly for the right-of-way between Springfield and Worcester.


“The governor has been terrific on it,” Neal said. “I think I turned the corner with him. In the last conversation we had at the State House, I got the impression he’s all in.”

A fish story wins big

The “Best Picture” win for the filmed-in-Gloucester “CODA,” which stars a number of deaf actors, wasn’t just a victory for the deaf community or the Massachusetts movie-making business.

It was also a victory for the state’s seafood sector, which played a featured role in the movie. Mark DeCristoforo, the executive director of the Massachusetts Seafood Collaborative, issued a statement on Monday, following CODA’s Oscar win the night before.

“All too real are the constant threats we face from powerful forces of regulation and commerce,” DeCristoforo said. “The New England fishing industry as a backdrop for this film is not a moment captured in time. We’re still here. We are a thriving and proud industry. We feed America; we are stewards of the ocean; and we hope to use this moment to remind America of this.”

Telling the story of this city. All of it.

Dan Dain argues that the definitive history of Boston has not been written yet. He also argues he should be the one to write it.

The president of the Dain Torpy law firm has spent much of his free time in the past several years pounding out pages packed with historical vignettes and storylines that together make up the ornate mosaic that is the history of this city. In “A History of Boston,” he covers everything from whaling ship financiers to Irish gangs to the birth of the biotech industry.


The underlying theme — and it’s one that should come as no surprise, given Dain’s day job as a development lawyer — is that Boston has thrived the most when the city has embraced density, diversity, and urbanism.

Now, as he hunts for an agent to promote the book, Dain has a new ally. Architectural photographer Peter Vanderwarker, who has had several Boston books of his own, agreed to provide the photos for Dain’s tome.

Dain said most books of this genre typically focus on discrete slices of Boston history. He cites the late Boston College historian Thomas O’Connor’s numerous publications as examples. Dain said he enjoys one broad-reaching book, Robert Allison’s “A Short History of Boston,” but it doesn’t go into enough detail for his satisfaction.

And so he’s determined to find a publisher to get his written work out to the wider world. Having a high-profile photographer like Vanderwarker along should help.

“I could make it half the length by taking out half the content,” Dain said. “But I want to tell the story of Boston. A great city like Boston deserves to have its history told in one place.”

Jon Chesto can be reached at jon.chesto@globe.com. Follow him on Twitter @jonchesto.