You might say Paul Ayoub has his work cut out for him.
During Ayoub’s two year-term as chairman of the Greater Boston Chamber of Commerce, which starts in July, the real estate attorney at the law firm Nutter McClennen & Fish will be responsible for helping to guide the chamber toward some lofty goals.
They include improving transportation options in the city, making more affordable housing available, and enhancing the business community’s diversity.
Ayoub, who will take over for McKinsey & Co. executive Nav Singh, will have plenty of help on the chamber’s board. Prince Lobel partner Walter Prince and Citizens Bank executive Jerry Sargent are taking on vice chair roles, for example, and will serve alongside incumbent vice chairs Donna Cupelo of Verizon, Micho Spring of Weber Shandwick, and John Farina of PwC.
Ayoub says he remains impressed with how chamber board members put the good of the community over their respective companies or industries when they debate the chamber’s policies.
“There’s a real passion that people bring to it, and a real positive intention to make a difference in this community,” he says. “They understand that when the community is strong, we’re all strong.”
Ayoub’s role also involves acting as a liaison of sorts between board members and chamber CEO Jim Rooney, who has made an active effort since landing the job in 2015 to broaden the chamber’s reach to include a younger audience.
Ever since he was a 7-year-old in West Roxbury, knocking on doors to raise money for St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital in Memphis, Ayoub says, he has tried to find ways to give back. (Ayoub is now on St. Jude’s national board and recently finished his term as chairman of ALSAC, the nonprofit charged with raising funds for St. Jude.)
It was an approach to life that was passed along from his grandparents, immigrants from Syria and Lebanon, to his parents, and then to his generation.
“I grew up in a family where my parents always talked about giving back to the community,” Ayoub says. “It’s always been something we’ve done.”
Another big law firm sets up in Boston
Another global law firm is establishing a Boston beachhead.
Harry Manion and his commercial litigation team at Boston’s Manion Gaynor & Manning will leave to join Hunton & Williams on April 2. Manion’s team includes 14 lawyers and a similar number of support staffers. The departing group includes partner Martin Gaynor and Tom Reilly, a former Massachusetts attorney general.
Hunton & Williams already has 19 offices in the United States and around the world. But it hadn’t been able to crack the Boston market. Then the opportunity to attract Manion and his team came along. Lawyers at both firms have worked together on cases, and Manion is friends with Wally Martinez, managing partner of Hunton & Williams.
“We have been interested in having a presence in Boston for a long time,” Martinez says. “Boston’s a vibrant, exciting community . . . But we knew it is such a competitive legal market, to try to launch something on our own . . . would be fraught with risk.”
Hunton Williams is also preparing to merge with another global firm, Andrews Kurth Kenyon. The new combined firm will be called Hunton Andrews Kurth.
Manion says a main driver for the change was the fact his Boston firm had developed two distinct business lines, commercial litigation and product liability work, primarily defending asbestos claims. As a result, he says, there were an increasing number of conflict-of-interest issues.
John Manning, another partner at Manion, will stay in his current role and continue to lead the product liability team, although the law firm will probably be renamed to reflect the departure of Manion and Gaynor.
The two firms will remain in the same building, at 125 High St., on different floors.
Manion says their joint clients, which include Sodexo and Koch Industries, have been supportive of the change.
“I’ve gotten to know Hunton over the years,” Manion says. “I think this is a great cap to my career.”
Comedy? It’s not in the job description
Apparently, House Speaker Bob DeLeo’s staffers won’t be leaving the State House for “Saturday Night Live” anytime soon.
DeLeo briefly broke from his scripted speech before the Greater Boston Chamber of Commerce on Friday to ask for some help. With the St. Patrick’s Day breakfast in South Boston two days away, DeLeo told the audience, he needed material.
A change in venue from the Boston Convention & Exhibition Center to the Ironworkers Local 7 union hall meant the pols were no longer using big screens with prepackaged videos — a useful crutch for some.
“If anyone has any jokes . . . please don’t hesitate to give my office a call today,” DeLeo said during the breakfast meeting at the InterContinental Boston hotel.
“[I’ll be] spending most of my day trying to think of jokes.”
He added that his staff’s comedy-writing skills were lacking — although to be fair, it should be noted that the ability to pen jokes is not part of the job description.
“They’re very good, they are the best there is,” DeLeo said. “But not funny.”
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