March 31, 2022
Murtha Cullina mourns the loss of its retired partner, James R. DeGiacomo, who passed away on January 12 at the age of 91. Mr. DeGiacomo was a founding partner of Roche, Carens & DeGiacomo, P.C. which he joined in 1963. In 2000, Roche, Carens & DeGiacomo merged with Murtha, Cullina, Richter and Pinney.
Mr. DeGiacomo received his law degree from Georgetown University Law Center in 1956 and his B.S. from Boston College in 1952. He was a combat veteran of the Korean War having served as an officer in the Marines.
A highly respected trial attorney, Mr. DeGiacomo had extensive experience in the areas of civil litigation, including business litigation, fiduciary litigation, legal malpractice defense and domestic relations. He was appointed by the Supreme Judicial Court to the Board of Bar Overseers in 1988 and served as its Chairman in 1990-91.
Jim was one of those rare attorneys who was capable of successfully trying virtually any type of case presented to him. A dean of the Probate Bar, Jim was often appointed by Probate Judges to handle complex and challenging matters. He was appointed by Judge Langlois to be the successor Trustee to the City of Quincy of a trust established by President John Adams. As an aficionado of American legal history, he relished the fact that he would be arguing a case on behalf of a John Adams trust at the John Adams Courthouse. Jim was also appointed by the Probate Court to represent the interests of minors who were donating organs to save the lives of family members, an experience he found highly rewarding both professionally and personally.
Amazingly, Jim continued to try cases well into his 80’s and did not retire from the practice of law until age 90. Jim was the ultimate role model and mentor for more than a generation of lawyers, many of whom came to the firm because of his stellar reputation. One of his proudest moments was when his protégé, Joan Armstrong, was appointed a Probate and Family Court Judge in 2008 and unanimously confirmed by the Governor’s Council. Jim had high regard and tremendous respect for the judiciary.
Jim was also an accomplished Professor of Law for over 40 years. He taught at New England School of Law covering a wide array of subjects ranging from Estate Planning to Clinical Evidence. He also served as outside general counsel to the law school for many years. Jim was also a founding trustee of Massachusetts Continuing Legal Education where he frequently lectured on a variety of topics particularly probate and trust litigation. He was also a founding member of Lawyers Concerned for Lawyers, a non-profit organization dedicated to helping lawyers and law students respond positively to the many professional and personal challenges of life in the legal profession.
Lovingly referred to as “Mr. D” at the firm, he had a reputation for kindness and thoughtfulness to all. He treated attorneys and staff with equal dignity and respect and enjoyed long term relationships with numerous loyal employees.
“We are all extremely grateful to Jim DeGiacomo for his extraordinary contributions to the legal profession and to our firm, his enduring leadership, and his legacy of instilling a culture of excellence in representing our clients which Murtha Cullina continues to build upon today” said Thomas S. Vangel, his long-time partner and former student who Jim hired 33 years ago.
A long-time resident of Cohasset and Back Bay, Mr. DeGiacomo was born and raised in Roslindale, the son of a Boston Police Officer. Predeceased by his wife of 65 years, Jeanne Marie, in 2020, Mr. DeGiacomo leaves four children, Mark (Lynne), Diane (Jack), Paul (Montasser) and Andrew, as well as four grandchildren and four great grandchildren.
Click here for a Massachusetts Lawyers Weekly article on more of Mr. DeGiacomo's legacy.