Massachusetts Association of Public Pension Attorneys

Welcome to MAPPA. MAPPA is an organization of attorneys, all of whom represent public contributory retirement boards in Massachusetts. The purpose of this web site is to provide information on public retirement law, the boards and the attorneys who represent them.

Our Members

Christopher F. Connolly

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Christopher F. Connolly is an attorney in private practice in Framingham, Massachusetts specializing in retirement and government law. Previously, Chris served as the Chief Administrative Magistrate of the Division of Administrative Law Appeals for 28 years, having been appointed by Governor Edward King. Before his service at the Division of Administrative Law Appeals, he was a trial attorney both in private practice and as an assistant district attorney for Suffolk County. 

Chris serves as a frequent faculty member for programs sponsored by the Massachusetts Bar Association, the Massachusetts Continuing Legal Education program and the Flashner Judicial Institute in addition to serving as a regular panelist at Massachusetts Association of Contributory Retirement Systems conferences. He is a founder and member of the National Association of Central Panel Directors and Chief Administrative Law Judges. He is a member of the National Association of Administrative Law Judges and the Massachusetts Bar Association. He is a past supervisor of New England School of Law students enrolled in clinical courses.

Chris is certified as a mediator, having completed the course of study, “Mediation for Administrative Law Judges,” conducted by the National Association of Administrative Law Judges and the American Bar Association.

He received his AB degree from Marquette University and his JD degree from Boston College Law School.

Judith A. Corrigan

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Ms. Corrigan currently serves as Deputy General Counsel for the Public Employee Retirement Administration Commission (PERAC.)  She became Deputy General Counsel in 2005, and began working at PERAC as Associate General Counsel in March of 1999.  Prior to being hired by PERAC, she served as both Staff Attorney and Senior Attorney for the Appalachian Research and Defense Fund of Kentucky, Inc.("Appalred"), an organization providing legal services to the poor in rural Appalachia.. A member of the Massachusetts, New Hampshire, and Kentucky bars, she is also admitted to the Federal Court in the Districts of New Hampshire and Eastern Kentucky, and to the United States Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit where she successfully argued a case regarding a coalminer's pension service. She holds a Bachelor of Science in Journalism degree from Suffolk University and earned her J.D. degree from the College of William and Mary in Williamsburg, VA.

Holly A. Ditchfield

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Holly Ditchfield has 19 years of litigation experience in Massachusetts focusing on public retirement law, employment law and business litigation on behalf of private and public sector clients.  Attorney Ditchfield has represented retirement boards before the Division of Administrative Law Appeals, Contributory Retirement Appeals Board and state trial and appellate courts.  Of recent note, Attorney Ditchfield served as co-counsel in the successful defense before the Supreme Judicial Court of a retirement board’s denial of a members’ application for accidental disability retirement benefits.  In Foresta v. Contributory Retirement Appeals Board and MTAERB, 453 Mass. 669 (2009), the SJC interpreted the statutory meaning of an employee’s inability “to perform essential duties of his job” under Chapter 32, §7, and how that provision should be applied in light of an employer’s obligation to accommodate disabled employees under the state’s anti-discrimination statute, G.L. c. 151B.

Attorney Ditchfield has conducted evidentiary reviews of disability retirement applications including all of the medical supporting documentation, employers’ statements, and other relevant information to recommend and advise clients on specific actions concerning the processing of disability retirement applications, as well as the conduct of forfeiture proceedings under c. 32, §15.  In addition, Attorney Ditchfield has served as co-counsel representing retirement boards on numerous appeals before DALA and CRAB and beyond to the trial court for judicial review under G.L. c. 30A.  Ditchfield has also drafted and negotiated the terms of Qualified Domestic Relations Orders (QDROS) on behalf of retirement boards.

Attorney Ditchfield earned her J.D. from Suffolk University Law School in 1991 and a B.S. in Business Administration from Salem State College in 1984.

Walter Foster

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Walter currently practices law with the Boston firm of Eckert Seamans Cherin & Mellott, LLC, where he maintains an extensive practice in public retirement law, employment law, and business litigation.  Walter began his career as an Assistant Attorney General handling numerous administrative law appeals on behalf of the Contributory Retirement Appeal Board, as well as authoring an opinion of the Attorney General under Chapter 32 concerning the applicability of specific retirement provisions to the judicial branch.  He has successfully represented the Massachusetts Turnpike Authority Employees’ Retirement Board before it was consolidated by legislative action into the State Retirement Board, most notably in the case entitled - Foresta v. Contributory Retirement Appeals Board and MTAERB, 453 Mass. 669 (2009), where the Supreme Judicial Court interpreted the statutory meaning of an employee’s inability “to perform the essential duties of his job” under Chapter 32, §7.  Currently he represents the Melrose Retirement Board handling all aspects of governance under Chapter 32.

Walter is a member of the federal and state courts in Massachusetts, as well as the First Circuit. He is also admitted in the United States Supreme Court. He is a member of the Boston Bar Association, the Massachusetts Bar Association, and currently serves as the President of the Massachusetts Association of Public Pension Attorneys.
 
Attorney Foster is a graduate cum laude, from Dartmouth College, and earned his J.D. from Columbia University School of Law and was named one of Boston Magazine's Massachusetts Super Lawyers in 2006.

Brian Fox

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Brian Fox is an associate with the law firm of Murphy, Hesse, Toomey & Lehane, LLP practicing in the areas of employee benefits and labor and employment law.  Mr. Fox devotes much of his practice to counseling public retirement boards, health and welfare trust funds in both the public and private sectors, and employers with employee benefit plans with regard to the myriad of issues that face such benefit plans.  He deals regularly with matters arising out of Massachusetts public pension law, as well as federal statutes affecting employee benefits, such as ERISA, HIPAA and COBRA.  In the course of his practice, Mr. Fox has successfully represented clients in court, arbitration and state adjudicative settings.    

Mr. Fox graduated from Boston College with a Bachelor of Arts Degree in History and as a member of the Honors Program.  He received his law degree from The Catholic University of America’s Columbus School of Law, graduating magna cum laude.  While in law school, Mr. Fox was Production Editor and an Executive Board Member for the Catholic University Law Review.  He was also awarded the John Fanning Labor Law Scholarship.

Prior to joining the firm, Mr. Fox was an associate with the firm of Dwyer, Duddy and Facklam in Boston, MA.  Before attending law school, Mr. Fox served as Legislative Director for a Massachusetts State Senator at the State House in Boston.

Gregory F. Galvin

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Gregory Galvin has a private practice in Weymouth, Massachusetts.  A graduate of Curry College and New England School of Law, Greg began his career as an Associate with the firm of Segalini & Murphy.  As a partner in the firm of Gross & Galvin for 23 years, Greg's practice grew to encompass a broad range of clients, including individuals, small businesses and major corporations.  Now, as a solo practitioner, his general practice has a strong emphasis in public employee retirement, representing both local boards and employees.  Greg's other areas of practice include local municipal law, real estate transactions, worker's compensation, and disability law. 

Greg’s affiliations include:  Member of the Massachusetts Association of Public Pension Attorneys, Real Estate Bar Association, and the Mass Bar Association; Chairman of the Quincy Zoning Bylaw Review Committee; Participant on the MACRS Bi-Annual Conference Legal Panel; Secretary of the Weymouth Rotary Club; Conciliator in the Mass. District Court Mediation/Conciliation Program; Former Judge for Moot Court Program at New England School of Law; Former Conciliator at the Department of Industrial Accidents; Former Member of the Quincy Planning Board.

Thomas F. Gibson

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The Law Offices of Thomas F. Gibson has been in operation in Cambridge, Massachusetts for over 25 years, representing Massachusetts retirement boards, and the members and beneficiaries of the public retirement system. Tom serves as Chairman of the Middlesex County Retirement Board and as Vice-Chairman of the Belmont Retirement Board.

Tom graduated from Boston College with a Bachelor of Arts in English, and obtained his Juris Doctor degree from Suffolk University Law School. His professional memberships include the National Association of Public Pension Attorneys, the Massachusetts Association of Public Pension Attorneys (Past President), the Massachusetts Bar Association, the Middlesex County Bar Association and the Cambridge-Arlington-Belmont Bar Association (Past President).

Tom was a recipient of the 2009 Outstanding Service Award from the Middlesex County Bar Association. He is a Fellow and Life Member of the Massachusetts Bar Foundation, where he served on the IOLTA Grant Review Committee. Tom has served as a faculty member of the Massachusetts Bar Association's Professional Educational Program, and is a regular panelist for the educational conferences sponsored by the Massachusetts Association of Contributory Retirement Systems (MACRS).

Katherine Hesse

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Katherine A. Hesse is a partner in the law firm of Murphy Hesse Toomey & Lehane, LLP, in Boston, Massachusetts where she practices primarily in labor and employment and employee benefits law. A large part of her practice is dedicated to representing public retirement systems and multi-state Taft-Hartley benefit plans. 

Ms. Hesse heads the team of attorneys that was named special fiduciary counsel to the multi-billion dollar Pension Reserve Investment Management Trust (PRIT) of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts.  Led by Ms. Hesse, the team performed a fiduciary review of the policies and procedures of the PRIT and the PRIM Board made many recommendations which significantly changed and improved the operations of the PRIT and the PRIM Board. 

Ms. Hesse was selected to write the authoritative chapter on the Massachusetts Public Employee Retirement System published in A Judicial Guide to Labor and Employment Law, a publication relied upon by the state's judges as a definitive reference guide to this area of law.

Ms. Hesse regularly speaks before the Massachusetts Association of Contributory Retirement Systems (MACRS).  In addition, Ms. Hesse is a member and frequent speaker for the National Association of Public Pension Attorneys (NAPPA).

Ms. Hesse has served as president of the International Society of Certified Employee Benefit Specialists and as chair of the International Foundation of Employee Benefit Plans’ Attorneys Committee.  She sits on the editorial board of Benefits Quarterly, a journal for benefits professionals.

Ms. Hesse received her B.A. degree from Smith College and her J.D. degree from the Boston University School of Law.  She is admitted to the Bars of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, the District of Columbia, the United States District Court for the District of Massachusetts, the United States Court of Appeals for the First Circuit and the Supreme Court of the United States.

Aaron E. Morrison

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Aaron E. Morrison is associate general counsel and disability case manager for the Massachusetts Teachers’ Retirement System. He supervises the processing of Accidental Disability Retirement cases and provides counsel to the Board on ADR and other issues that come before it. Mr. Morrison regularly litigates disability and non-disability retirement issues before administrative agencies and the Courts of the Commonwealth, including the Appeals Court. He has also filed and litigated ADR subrogation claims on behalf of individual members for workers’ compensation benefits. Mr. Morrison is a graduate of Boston University and Northeastern University School of Law.  Previously, Mr. Morrison worked for the Disability Law Center in New Hampshire litigating employment discrimination and accessibility cases. He also practiced workers’ compensation law with Cunningham, Machanic, Cetlin, Johnson & Harney, LLP.  He is has served as a faculty member on workers’ compensation and retirement law panels at Massachusetts Continuing Legal Education (“MCLE”) and has also been a presented several times of various retirement law topics at the Massachusetts Association for Contributory Retirement Systems (“MACRS”)

Derek M. Moitoso, Esq.

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Mr. Moitoso is currently Associate General Counsel at the Public Employee Retirement Administration Commission (“PERAC”), the agency responsible for the oversight, guidance, monitoring, and regulation of the 106 Massachusetts Public Pension Systems.  His advises and counsels the systems’ boards, their members, and their retirees to ensure the professional, prudent, and efficient administration of these systems.  He regularly represents PERAC before the Division of Administrative Law Appeals, the Contributory Retirement Appeals Board, and the Superior Court.  Prior to working at PERAC, Mr. Moitoso was Associate General Counsel for Massachusetts State Treasurer, Timothy P. Cahill and the State Retirement Board.  Prior to joining the public sector Mr. Moitoso was a Corporate Associate at and Edwards, Angell, Palmer & Dodge, LLP and Litigation Associate at Donovan Hatem, LLP.  Mr. Moitoso served as a law clerk for the Honorable Thomas F. Hogan, Chief Judge, U.S. District Court in Washington, DC and the Honorable H.F. Gierke, Chief Justice, U.S. Court of Appeals for the Armed Forces in Washington, DC.  He was also a congressional aide to the Honorable Patrick J. Kennedy, U.S. House of Representatives.  

Mr. Moitoso graduated from The Catholic University of America, Columbus School of Law in Washington, DC in 2001.  He was selected to serve on the Catholic University Law Review and received the W. Hobart & Cox Little Scholarship.  Mr. Moitoso is a 1998 graduate of Providence College in Providence, RI with a Bachelor of Arts, Cum Laude, a Martin Luther King, Jr. Full Tuition Scholar, and a member of the Phi Sigma Alpha Honor Society. 

Mr. Moitoso is active member of the National Association of Public Pension Attorneys, the Massachusetts Association of Contributory Retirement Systems, the Massachusetts Association of Public Pension Attorneys, the Knights of Columbus, the Portuguese Continental Union, the Massachusetts Bar Association, the Rhode Island Bar Association, and the District of Columbia Bar Association.

Carol E. Nesson

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Carol E. Nesson currently practices law privately in Needham, Massachusetts, specializing in assisting the divorce bar in division of pension and retirement assets on divorce. She is a judicially-recognized expert on the subject of QDROs.  She prepares the orders needed to divide Massachusetts public pensions, Federal and military benefits and private retirement assets of all kinds.

She served for many years as full-time, in-house counsel to the Boston Retirement Board.  Her Boston practice covered all aspects of benefits, including worker's comp, family support, disability, divorce and forfeiture, and the Board's investment program. She represented retirement boards throughout the administrative appeals process and in the trial and appellate courts of the Commonwealth and the United States. Formerly, she was an assistant corporation counsel for the City of Boston, practicing municipal law.

Carol is a frequent presenter at the legal education programs of MCLE, the Massachusetts Association of Contributory Retirement Systems and the Middlesex Retirement System. She has lectured and written extensively on the division of Massachusetts public pensions in divorce, for the Judicial Institute among others. She is a board member for the Pension Action Center.

Carol is a graduate of Simmons College and Boston University School of Law, and has completed Boston University’s  certified financial planning program. She was a founder and the first president of the Massachusetts Association of Public Pension Attorneys. She is a member of the Boston Bar and the Women’s Bar Associations.

James O’Leary

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Prior to becoming Associate General Counsel at the Massachusetts Teachers’ Retirement Board, Mr. O’Leary was an analyst with John Hancock, as well as an attorney in the private sector. He has litigated employment issues before the Division of Employment and Training and workers compensation issues before the Industrial Accidents Board. He has also represented clients in bankruptcy, divorce, and personal injury cases in the Federal Bankruptcy Courts and the District and Superior courts of Massachusetts.

Mr. O’Leary is a graduate of Boston University and a 1993 graduate of New England School of Law. He became a member of the Bar in 1993, and is admitted to practice in the Massachusetts State Courts, the Federal District Court for the District of Massachusetts and the Appeals Court for the First Circuit.

Barbara Phillips, General Counsel
Public Employee Retirement Administration Commission

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Ms. Phillips served as General Counsel for PERA (and now for PERAC) for over twenty years.  As General Counsel she provides day-to-day advice to the Commission’s Executive Director, to the Commission and its Senior Staff.  In addition to reviewing disability retiree’s earnings, appointing medical panels to examine disability applicants and conducting the restoration to service process, the Commission provides training and technical advice to the 106 Retirement Systems for public employees in Massachusetts.

Ms. Phillips is certified by the International Foundation for Employee Benefit Plans as a Certified Employee Benefit Specialist with advanced Certificates in Public Plan Policy in Employee Pensions and Employee Health.

Nicholas Poser

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Nicholas Poser is a solo practitioner in Boston. He is a 1981 graduate of the University of Vermont and a 1985 graduate of Suffolk University Law School. In 1991, after serving as assistant counsel to the Boston Retirement Board for four years, he started his current law practice where he concentrates in Massachusetts Public Retirement Law representing retirement boards as well as employees. He is a member of the Boston Bar Association, and a Proprietor of the Social Law Library. Mr. Poser is the current President of the Massachusetts Association of Public Pension Attorneys.

James H. Quirk, Jr.

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James H. Quirk, Jr. is a founding partner in the law firm of Quirk & Chamberlain, P.C. He has maintained a general practice in Yarmouth since 1975 and has specialized in public pension law with the Barnstable County Retirement System since 1977 working with other systems over the years in all areas of retirement law.

Jim has handled cases before the three (3) member Contributory Retirement Appeal Board prior to the creation of the Division of Administrative law Appeals. He has handled CRAB review appeals, the Supreme Judicial Court, The United States First District Court, and the First District Court of Appeals. He has handled cases on member’s disability claims, claims for workers compensation set-off, creditable service, membership group classification, relation of PERAC to the Boards, investment issues, Section 9 and Section 10 benefits, issues related to Section 15, Section 16 on removal and/or discharge, Section 19 QDRO issues of alienation of benefits, Section 20 and 21, Section 22 and its subsections, Section 23, Section 57 and 58, Section 68, Section 89, 90A, 90B, 90F and 90G, Section 91, 91A, 94, 94A, 100, 101 and 102.

Jim has been involved in the legislative process by providing testimony at public hearings before the public service committees. He has been involved in compliance issues with respect to investment regulations and has done extensive contract preparation. He has lectured and been involved in education of Chapter 32 for almost 15 years.


Jim’s other areas of practice include: civil litigation with an emphasis on real estate litigation, land use and real estate regulatory issues. He is a Land Court Title Examiner and expert witness in many courts on real estate related matters.

Michael Sacco

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Attorney Sacco founded the Law Offices of Michael Sacco, P.C. (“Firm”) on March 20, 2006, having practiced in various Boston law firms in the preceding 12 years. From a historical perspective, upon graduating Suffolk Law School and passing the bar in 1992, the Massachusetts Teachers’ Retirement Board promoted Attorney Sacco to the position of Assistant Legal Counsel, a position which he held until 1994 when he accepted an associate’s position in the law firm of Finnegan & Stanzler, which later became Finnegan, Hickey, Dinsmoor & Johnson, P.C. In January 2001, Attorney Sacco became a partner at FHD&J, and in July of that same year, FHD&J merged with Peabody & Arnold, a well known Boston law firm. In August 2002, as a result of internal restructuring, Attorney Sacco left P&A to join Hill & Barlow as a partner, only to have that firm unexpectedly disband in December 2002. In January 2003, Attorney Sacco joined Kirkpatrick & Lockhart Nicholson Graham LLP as a partner, where he remained until March 20, 2006 when he founded this Firm. Since entering private practice in 1994, Attorney Sacco’s practice has focused exclusively in the representation of public pension systems in Massachusetts.

Attorney Sacco has litigated more than 400 cases at the Division of Administrative Law Appeals and Contributory Retirement Appeal Board during his 21 years of practice in representing retirement boards across the Commonwealth. Attorney Sacco’s litigation experience includes all aspects in the interpretation and administration of M.G.L. c. 32, including but not limited to disability and death benefit disputes, creditable service and regular compensation issues. Attorney Sacco has successfully argued before the District Court, Superior Court, State Appeals Court and Supreme Judicial Court in matters involving retirement issues. Attorney Sacco was lead counsel in some of the seminal retirement board cases decided in the last decade, such as Maher v. Retirement Board of Quincy, 452 Mass. 517 (2008), in which the Supreme Judicial Court determined that the Quincy Retirement Board’s revocation of Maher’s retirement allowance was not a violation of the 8th Amendment of the United States Constitution; Maher v. Justices of the Division of the District Court Department, 67 Mass App. Ct. 612 (2006), in which Attorney Sacco successfully defended the Quincy Retirement Board’s decision to revoke Maher’s retirement allowance based on his criminal convictions; Pelonzi v. Retirement Board of Beverly, 451 Mass. 475 (2008), in which Attorney Sacco successfully defended the Beverly Retirement Board’s refusal to include the personal use value of an employer-supplied motor vehicle as instructed by PERAC in the calculation of a member’s retirement allowance; Richard v. Retirement Board of Worcester, 431 Mass. 163 (2000) in which Attorney Sacco successfully defended the Worcester Retirement Board’s denial of accidental disability benefits to a member who was injured while travelling to her first work assignment from her home; and Bristol County Retirement Board v. Contributory Retirement Appeal Board, 65 Mass. App. Ct. 443 (2006), in which Attorney Sacco was successful in overturning a Contributory Retirement Appeal Board decision on behalf of the Bristol County Retirement Board, which reinforced a retirement board’s right to collect excess earnings from a retiree when the local treasurer fails to do so, and perhaps most importantly, stated that a retirement board’s discretion to waive a debt owed by a member may not be overturned by CRAB unless it is demonstrated that the retirement board abused its discretion in doing so. In addition, Attorney Sacco successfully represented the Stoneham Retirement Board before the Supreme Judicial Court in Rotondi v. Contributory Retirement Appeal Board, et al., 463 Mass. 644 (2012), in which the Stoneham Retirement Board challenged a PERAC opinion that the $200 or less threshold earnings requirement set forth in M.G.L. c. 32, § 3(2)(d) did not apply to elected officials. The SJC agreed with the Stoneham Retirement Board that Section 3(2)(d) applied to elected officials, and further underscored Attorney Sacco’s longstanding position that a PERAC opinion is not binding on local retirement systems. Most recently, in Herrick v. Essex Regional Retirement Board, 465 Mass 801 (2013) Attorney Sacco was successful in overturning a Superior Court decision which awarded contract interest (12%) to a member who was wrongfully denied his superannuation retirement allowance in the context of a pension forfeiture proceeding saving the retirement board approximately $100,000 in interest payments.

Attorney Sacco is admitted to practice in both State and Federal Court in Massachusetts, and the Supreme Court of the United States.

Attorney Sacco served as President of the Massachusetts Association of Public Pension Attorneys from 2002 to 2004.

James H. Salvie

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Formerly its Deputy General Counsel, Mr. Salvie is the current General Counsel for the Massachusetts Teachers’ Retirement Board. Before joining the TRB in 1997, he worked for the law firm of Murphy, Hesse, Toomey & Lehane, where he was counsel to the Norfolk County Retirement Board and several municipal retirement boards. An attorney since 1986, he is a graduate of Cornell University and received his law degree from the George Washington University. 

Timothy J. Smyth

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Mr. Smyth serves as General Counsel to the Boston Retirement Board.  As General Counsel he oversees all legal matters pertaining to the Boston Retirement Board and the State Boston Retirement System.  Prior to joining the Boston Retirement Board, Mr. Smyth worked as a trial attorney at the law firm of Burns & Farrey where he primarily defended clients in civil actions.  Before that, he was an Assistant District Attorney for Worcester County where he was assigned to the Appeals Division and prosecuted cases in the Supreme Judicial Court and Appeals Court.  Mr. Smyth is a graduate of Boston College and New England School of Law.

 

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