President’s Message

The Healthiest Emotion: Being Thankful

Francis J. Nolan, Esq. 

A thankful heart is the greatest virtue.


We’re moving into my favorite time of year, when I’m finally able to stop glaring at the snow shovels sitting on my front porch and move them into the shed, where they will rest undisturbed for as long as I can possibly leave them there.  With days growing longer and warmer, I’m better able to shake off the doldrums of the winter months and move forward with a renewed focus on weightier things.  (Pretty much all of those things relate to the Red Sox.  Put me down as being cautiously optimistic.)

It’s a turbulent time in the world, to be sure, but I am trying to focus myself on the many things in my life for which I am grateful.  I’ve been surprised by the number of times REBA’s popped onto the list in one form or another.  For example:

I’m grateful for the chance to learn about other areas of real estate law besides the ones that occupy my everyday work hours.  At a recent Legislation Section meeting, I (mostly) listened to a great discussion that ranged from permitting requirements to brownfields to smart growth zoning to appellate procedure.  By attending REBA “road show” presentations in Dedham and Salem, I learned about some traps for the unwary when dealing with solar panels.

On a related note, I’m thankful for the generosity shown by our colleagues who take the time to head out on the road, whether it leads to Boston or Needham or elsewhere, so they can share what they know with me and other REBA members. Consider Phil Lapatin’s regular review of recent real estate case law, which is both enlightening and entertaining.  I’m sure more than one person will be attending our Spring Conference on May 1 just to listen to Phil’s roundup!

Is it okay for me to say I’m grateful for the food at our Spring Conference?  No, seriously.  Don’t take that for granted, people.  Nothing dampens the mood like a sub-par lunch.

I am always appreciative of the opportunity to see friends and colleagues at our conferences.  It seems like we’re all either “chained to the desk” or always on the go, and e-mails are a poor substitute for direct interaction, as I am reminded every time I see a friendly face in line to pick up the conference materials.

My constant gratitude for the hard work and dedication of the REBA staff can never go without saying.  Even though we have a lot of very active volunteer members, all of us ultimately rely heavily on the folks who man our headquarters and not only make the daily operations run smoothly, but also oversee the technical and logistical arrangements of our programs and conferences. 

I’m hugely thankful for the opportunity to work with the members of REBA’s Board of Directors.  These are people who are deeply respected and admired by their colleagues and peers throughout the industry, and it’s remarkable to see their dedication to the continuing improvement of both the real estate bar and REBA.  That’s what lawyering is all about, in my opinion.

Lastly, I’m grateful for the opportunity I have had already in my short tenure to see how representatives of other organizations view REBA.  It is clear that we are viewed as an organization whose members are true subject matter experts who care about their clients, their colleagues and the maintenance of the high quality of real estate legal work in Massachusetts.  And if you’re a member of REBA, I am grateful to you too for your contribution to the organization.  REBA’s as good as its members.

That’s it for now.  I encourage you to take time, even if it’s just 60 seconds in your day, to consider the many things for which you might be grateful.  Being a real estate lawyer in Massachusetts can be many things on any given day—frustrating, rewarding, dynamic, exciting, infuriating—but it’s a privilege that’s hard-earned, and one few can claim.  I am grateful for the opportunity.