Home > Zen & the Art of Legal Networking > ILN-terviews: Sam Mawn-Mahlau, Davis, Malm & D’Agostine

ILN-terviews: Sam Mawn-Mahlau, Davis, Malm & D’Agostine

Welcome to ILN-terviews, a series of profiles of ILN member firm attorneys, designed to give a unique insight into the lawyers who make up our Network. For our latest interview, we chose ILN member, Sam Mawn-Mahlau of our member firm, Davis, Malm & D’Agostine in Boston, who I will be visiting tomorrow morning for a presentation!

In one sentence, how would you describe your practice?
I serve as General Counsel to companies in the technology, healthcare, and finance industries.

Who would be your typical client?
No client is typical, but I do seem to represent many high-tech companies founded by serial entrepreneurs. The full range of my clients includes everything from public charities to family businesses involved in M&A transactions to large insurance companies insuring tax or IP representations.

What would you like clients and potential clients to know about you?
I am eager to understand their business. I want to add value. Please, let’s not just talk about the legal issue that is right in front of you, but let’s look at how it fits in with your business strategy and goals.

What has been your most challenging case? Why?
The most challenging thing I do is not a single case or matter but the whole process of developing a company from formation through its many incarnations to exit. Everything must be put in context, and every journey is different.

What has been your proudest moment as a lawyer?
I once had a David & Goliath battle in which I represented David and success or failure depended on our ability to obtain a key regulatory approval for a spin-out from a public charity. The approval process usually takes months, but I quietly convinced a secretary at the agency involved to move my file to the top of the pile for her boss. He found my arguments compelling, saw no substantive issues with the transaction, and granted the approval in three days without a single decision maker being lobbied. The other side, represented by a former mentor of mine, was still preparing fancy arguments for a big fight focused on the top of the regulatory food chain, where his client had great friends. There was something very Zen about that victory.

What do you do when you’re not practicing law?
Well, there is reading. I read voraciously – when I travel, I try to read classics from the country I am visiting. I have a family with three busy children: they are involved in theatre, dance, glass working, the visual arts, you name it. I am on the board of the Boston Modern Orchestra Project, or “BMOP,” which has become one of the leading voices for current classical music. We have our own label, BMOP Sound, with three grammy nominations, and have performed in places as far afield as Beijing and Monaco.

What would surprise people most about you?
As a teenager, I worked as a grave-digger.

What has been your most memorable ILN experience?
The demonstrations in front of the hotel in Spain were certainly an interesting welcome. They were all chanting about how happy they were to see us, right?

What career would you have chosen if you weren’t a lawyer?
I had a career in politics before becoming a lawyer, but, like many people, lost patience for the lack of rationality in the process. I probably would have become an academic, and immersed myself in dusty books and teaching.

If a movie were made of your life, who would you want to play you?
Alfred Hitchcock. The master of random cameos and unexpected appearances.

How would you like to be remembered?
As a person of honesty and integrity, a smart and creative lawyer, a great father and husband, and a little bit of a trouble-maker.