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The Most Interesting Lawyer of the Week: Pierce Atwood’s Will Worden

How a former stable hand ended up at Pierce Atwood…and at the forefront of transactional law and animal cloning

Worden_Will_largeSay the name “Dolly” and most people will think of the country singer or the child’s toy. Twenty years ago, however, the name immediately brought to mind Scotland’s most famous sheep.

July 5th marks the 20th anniversary of the birth of Dolly the sheep, the first animal to be cloned from an adult cell, using the technique of somatic cell nuclear transfer. That event – called the “breakthrough of the year” by Science Magazine – set into motion a new phase of research, and a new area of transactional law. At the forefront was Will Worden, Partner-in-Charge at Pierce Atwood’s Boston office and one of the pioneering attorneys on transactions involving animal cloning technologies.

But how does a then-Portland based attorney find himself on the cutting edge of animal science? One could say it started with the Vietnam War.

“I grew up in a big family in Ware, Mass,” said Worden. “When I got out of high school, I went to Bridgewater State College for a year. It was during the Vietnam War, and all the turmoil that was going on. By the end of that year, I was a hippie and I dropped out. I ended up in a farm management apprentice program in Virginia.”

Not just any farm management program, but one that attracted 3,000 applicants a year for just 12 spots, and one that had earned a reputation for placing program participants into management positions at world class farms.

“I served an apprenticeship on a farm that was breeding Morgan horses and cattle, and growing thousands of acres of alfalfa hay, corn and soybeans. I learned everything about the farm’s ‘seasons’: breeding, foaling, calving, planting, and harvesting. I also learned about genetics. I was involved in cutting edge technology; we were breeding animals via embryo transfer, and I learned from people who were the best.”

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After working his way up from stable hand to management positions at various farming operations, Worden was ultimately appointed general manager of Dearborn Farm in Lexington, Kentucky, one of the big thoroughbred breeding farms at the time. In an industry where management positions are often passed down from father to son, Worden’s new role was a significant achievement.

“When I got to Kentucky, I realized that I had achieved part of my goal, but I really wanted to have a college education. So I left and went to UMass Amherst and did an undergraduate degree in animal science in two years. I took a job as the general manager of a big farm in Virginia for two years, and then had the bug to further my education.”

After returning to UMass for a master’s degree in agriculture and resource economics, Worden was recruited by Drake University Law School, one of just two schools at the time with a program in agricultural law.  While Worden intended to take that degree back to Virginia or Kentucky and the farms, he ended up on a different path.

“I did a summer associate program at Pierce Atwood, and then returned there after clerking for a federal trial judge for a couple of years,” explained Worden. “One morning I came into work, and there was a private placement memorandum on my desk with a note from one of the senior corporate partners. A big, world class poultry genetics farm had purchased a startup company out of UMass Amherst called Advanced Cell Technology (ACT), and the core technology of ACT was somatic cell nuclear transfer.

“The note read ‘Do you know any of the terminology or technology that’s talked about in this memo?’ I opened it up and I saw the names of professors whom I knew and had studied with at UMass, and that’s when I started working with animal cloning.”

This was in the late 1990s, when the world was talking about the birth of Dolly. Meanwhile, Worden was working with ACT, whose scientists – including James Robl, Steve Stice, and Jose Cibelli – famously cloned the Holstein calves George and Charlie.

cowsgeorgecharlie

“I actually met George and Charlie; they were created by UMass/ACT scientists, and were born in Texas. Shortly after they were born, George and Charlie came back to live in Amherst. What’s really interesting for me is that ACT improved the technology that was used to clone Dolly. After that, cloning actually became a business. Working with Dr. Mike West at ACT, I created a cloning services contract that was the first widely used commercial cloning services agreement. It was a brave new world.”

Worden’s role working with Advanced Cell Technology allowed him a close up view of how the technology was being used to improve lives.

“Scientists were looking at this technology as a way to improve the quality of meat and milk. The thing that was really interesting was that you could clone, say a Holstein, so that she would produce milk with a certain protein that could be extracted and used as a human therapeutic. It was the early years of regenerative medicine.”

Today, Worden remains on the cutting edge, working with clients, including with Dr. Mike West (now at BioTime, Inc.) in the commercialization of regenerative medicine technologies, including stem cell technologies. It’s an area that wouldn’t have developed without the science that led to Dolly, George and Charlie.

“I always thought the legal work that I was doing was laying a foundation for human medicine. It was groundbreaking work that I think contributed quite a bit. Now, here we are in 2016 and I think we’re within a short window of seeing real therapeutics hit the market from all this work, it’s pretty fascinating. I’m very proud to have worked on this.”

New faces, new programs, new….carpet?

It’s that time of the year, again. As we enter late summer and enjoy the long, warm days, the BBA staff is anxiously preparing for a new program year! With only 25 days until September 1, the team at 16 Beacon Street is busy putting everything in order for our 12,000 members.

When you come through our front door in less than a month, what will be different? The BBA staff is here to give you the rundown:

  1. New BBA Leadership. Have you met the members of the 2015-2016 Council?
  1. New Programming – Have you visited our calendar lately? September and October programs are already on the books. Be sure to save the date for the BBA’s Fall Forums Kick-off on Wednesday, September 16th.
  1. New Law Students – Once again, the BBA is proud to partner with the five Boston law schools and welcome their law students as BBA members. On Thursday, September 3rd, our New Lawyers Section will host a Law Student Welcome Reception. We hope to see you there!
  1. New Look – Yes, you guessed it! The BBA ushered in a lot of upgrades this summer – new member space rooms, updated meeting spaces with new carpets (yay!), and a new front desk area. You may not know, but there are many talented photographers on the BBA staff, so Voices of the Bar is taking you on a virtual tour of 16 Beacon Street. Hold onto your hats and get ready for a sneak peek…
The Front Desk

The Front Desk

Sanding the Conference Room

Sanding the Conference Room

Clafin Start

Clafin Start

Claflin In Progress

Claflin In Progress

Almost There

Almost There

 

Voices of the Bar would like to give a special thanks to the BBA’s Facilities Supervisor Bill Santry for managing the renovations!

The BBA staff wishes you a fantastic August, and we are thrilled to welcome you back in September!

What’s It REALLY Like Working at a Bar Association

You’ve probably seen updates and notices for the BBA’s popular Summer Career Series, which famously tells attendees “what’s it REALLY like” to work in certain areas of law.

“Well,” we thought to ourselves, “knowing about different practice areas and learning about them at the BBA is great…but what if we gave our members an inside peek at what it’s REALLY like to work at the BBA itself?”

What a mystery to delve into! First of all, working at a bar association is made rewarding by virtue of our enthusiastic volunteers and great members. (What can we say? We’re a little spoiled!) But there is much more to it than that.

 

So…What’s It REALLY Like to Work at the BBA?

Many of our members come to the BBA every month – sometimes every week! – for lunch programs, Section and committee meetings, and many other reasons. Along the way, they meet (eminently competent and, let’s face it, totally lovable) BBA staff members working across all areas of the organization.

The front line of the BBA staff is the membership department – those who help to coordinate programs, launch committee initiatives, and generally support our members in all areas. Working in Membership is a little something like this:

Mallard-Duckings-Reflection-000009299760_Medium

…by which we mean, calm and unruffled on the surface, but paddling furiously as they keep the organization afloat.

 

Then there’s our marketing and events team…

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Always confident in directing people where to go and where to be for the best event experience possible, it’s a busy, high-energy world in events. Also, they know where the best snacks are.

 

Team Communications is always waiting to pounce on the next media opportunity and tends to be glued to the phone – kinda like this guy:

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(Definitely less fuzzy, but also definitely as good-looking.)

 

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Wondering how the BBA is always able to adapt to the ever-changing legal and political climate of the city? Thank Team Government Relations for having their eyes in all directions looking out for the latest legislative updates. It has moments of being slow, but when there’s movement, watch out – these guys are ready to move fast.

Public service is some of the most heart-warming work of all at the BBA, as it sees a direct impact on the community. It does include coordinating and overseeing a lot of volunteers and community members, meaning that working in public service is a little something like this:

Labrador-Welpen im Korb

 

The final front line of the BBA – that is, staff members you’re most likely to see around the building – is the executive team, which handles working with the BBA’s leadership. It’s a job that requires a great memory for details and the ability to balance projects effectively. Maybe a little bit like this:

African elephant balancing on a beer barrel.

 

And then there are the staff members who are rarely seen, rarely heard, but incredibly valuable. Think of them as the BBA deep cut, if you will.

Like our finance & administration team:

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On the move ready to put their financial plans in action; known for their sound survival mechanisms; and…surprisingly cuddly?

 

Or how about our IT team? There are a surprising number of tech issues that come up at the BBA, so for them, working at a bar association is about quickly, quietly, and discreetly solving these issues before anyone notices them.

Mouse-On-Laptop-000016318347_Medium

And last, but certainly not least, our facilities team takes expert care of the BBA’s historic headquarters, 16 Beacon Street, making sure that all meetings and events inside its walls can run full steam ahead.

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We hope you enjoyed learning a little more about what it’s REALLY like to work at a bar association – and finding out what the different BBA spirit animals are. With the busy program year coming up, I guess you could say…

….sometimes it’s a zoo over here!

Happy Fourth of July!

All has been quiet on the Voices of the Bar front — but the silence is deceptive! We have plenty planned for the summer, including more chances to meet the BBA/BBF staff, more polls, and of course, more baby animals.

In the meantime, we hope all of our members enjoy the holiday weekend, and that your Fourth of July is as sweet as this pup….

patriotic pooch

 

…and as cool as this cat.*

patriotic kitty

 

 

After this weekend, stay tuned for more original content!

 

* Unfortunately, we’re pretty sure nothing can be as cool as this cat.

Summertime and the Living Is Easy…Now Who’s Ready for Vacation?

(Have we mentioned yet that we’re really excited that warmer weather is finally here? Really, really excited?)

We hate to see the program year go (check out our upcoming tribute to the outgoing Section Co-Chairs), but we’re absolutely thrilled to welcome the advent of summer. Maybe we’ll regret that when it’s the dog days of July; but for now, we’re getting our summer on here at VoB.

On that note — we hope you are, too! And because this is Voices of the Bar, we’re curious to find out whether our members are eagerly anticipating summer for any particular reason. Like, say…a notable vacation?

So tell us: do you have a vacation already planned? Is it an outdoor backpacking adventure? A relaxing beachside weekend? Let us know in the poll below!

 

What are your summer vacation plans?

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Where Should You Host Your Big Summer Bash?

Let’s face it: we can’t all host our summer bashes at 16 Beacon Street, the home of many upcoming end-of-year celebrations. But your soiree doesn’t have to be a bummer! We know it’s the time of year when people are planning get-togethers of all sorts for a range of reasons, and we’re to help you figure out the perfect location for your next party – whether it’s for 5 or 500

Celebrating Milestones: Professional Edition

As a storied and historic institution with hundreds of regular programs and events on offer, the BBA celebrates several milestones every year — every month, even. With commencement season upon us (another major milestone for many of our law student members), we’re feeling a little nostalgic and reflective as we consider recent and upcoming program anniversaries and other big news.

And with commencement on the mind, we started to think about what would surely be a major milestone for our members: work anniversaries, or how long you’ve been in practice. We’re lucky to have members across all practice areas, and in sectors ranging from private practice to the government to legal services; some are just embarking on their journeys, while others have been part of the profession for years.

We want to celebrate our members and all that they do for the law in Boston. Which means…

It’s poll time!

How long have you been an attorney?

How long have you been an attorney?

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Which Classic Food Pairing Are You?

Ever wonder whether you’re more a bacon & eggs or cookies & milk type of person? Take our quiz to find out which classic food pairing you are — and don’t forget to mark your calendars for the BBF’s Passport to Pairings, coming up on June 25th at the BBA, so that you can find out which of these pairings might be making an appearance there.

The People You Need to Know — on the BBA Staff!

Our unofficial theme of the week is ‘the people you need to know.’ The BBA loves to bring in speakers from all over the legal community and beyond and throws networking events at least once a month to introduce our members to people we feel like they’d want to know and encourage cross-practice discussion across the board.

But there’s another side to the BBA — the side you see when you wake up out of dead sleep in the middle of the night drenched in a cold sweat, thinking to yourself, “Oh no. Oh NO. I forgot my BBA login information! Who do I ask to get it back?!”

(It’s okay…trust us, we’ve all been there.)

Being a member of the BBA means you might end up with a lot of questions and ideas, which we want to hear. You might not know, however, the right person to ask for your specific need. That’s why, without further ado, we’re presenting an initial installment of:

Five Staff Members You Need to Know for the Following Situations

Q: “Oh no. Oh NO. I forgot my BBA login information! Who do I ask to get it back?!”

A: Yes, that tech nightmare. For your login info needs, we want to introduce you to Ashley Young, our Membership Enrollment Coordinator.

Ashley

Q: “I had the best idea for a program that I think BBA members would love. Who should I talk to?”

A: That would be Kristen Scioli White, our Manager of Member Engagement. P.S. — check out her sweet John Adams mug!

Kristen

Q: “Public service and pro bono work are super important to me, and the BBA has loads of public service programs. How do I get involved?”

A: Just talk to Katie D’Angelo, our Public Service Programs Coordinator extraordinaire! (Is that Beyond the Billable we see on her screen…?)

Katie

Q: “You have an event coming up and I want to attend! How do I get tickets?”

A: Erica Southerland, our Events Coordinator, has you covered…just look at how excited she is about one of our newest and most recent events!

Erica

And finally, perhaps the most important question of all…

Q: “HELP! The Keurig is out of water! I need that caffeine fix.”

A: Where would any of us be without the dynamic presence of the one and only Matthew Colleary, our Meeting & Events Set-Up Assistant?

Matt

Obviously there are many more staff members working behind the scenes to keep your BBA experience running smoothly! We’ll be back with more introductions; check back so that you can put names to faces when you’re at the BBA — and so you never feel stranded with a question again.

A Room with a View — Photo Post

Happy Law Day, BBA! As promised, we want to share a couple of the beautiful office views that were sent in.

From Carla Moynihan at Sherin & Lodgen — “New law firm, new downtown view and new orchid plant:”

sherin office

And from Phelps Turner at Sugarman, Rogers, Barshak & Cohen: “Sunset over Boston from the offices of Sugarman, Rogers, Barshak & Cohen, P.C.:”

sugarman office

Gorgeous! But these totally can’t compare to the incredibly scenic, picturesque, romantic view from the office of the BBA’s very own Director of Communications:

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You know you’re jealous.

Missed the chance to send in a picture? Don’t worry! We’ll have plenty of other interactive opportunities coming up on Voices of the Bar.