Who’s Who at Hinckley Allen: Jay GonzalezMarch 6, 2020
How did you get involved in your practice?
I started as a public finance lawyer because I wanted to work with governments. I’ve always been passionate about government because of the positive impact it has on our daily lives and because it is the one institution that represents all of us. I also love the way government works, and I wanted to support government officials in figuring out how to achieve their objectives. My law practice gives me the opportunity to help build stronger communities and to work with government officials and other stakeholders to make a difference in people’s lives. What’s better than that?!
I’m thrilled to be part of the team here at Hinckley Allen where I have the opportunity to build upon my experience as a public finance lawyer and my leadership experience in government and in the health care sector. I’m working to expand our nationally-recognized public finance practice, and I’m also helping to support and grow our health care practice and our work for other clients with interests before the public sector.
Who has had a great influence on your career path, and why?
There is no single person who has influenced my career more than any other. I have learned meaningful lessons from all of my teammates, colleagues, and partners at every stage of my career. I really value the lessons I’ve learned and the relationships I’ve built throughout my career, including with my colleagues here at Hinckley Allen. I believe the most important factor influencing one’s professional development, growth, opportunities, success and happiness is the people you have the privilege of knowing, working with and learning from along the way. I have been extremely fortunate in that respect.
Can you describe a project that made you proud, or you learned the most from?
I have had the opportunity to work on many projects and initiatives throughout my career for which I am proud and from which I learned a lot. The common denominator among all of them – no matter the nature of the project or initiative, the job I had at the time, or the context – was that the successful outcome always resulted from the effort of a collaborative and supportive team.
One example of such an effort was the work of my team in state government to successfully manage state finances through the Great Recession. As the Secretary of Administration and Finance for the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, I was responsible for managing a $32 billion state budget through that fiscal crisis. It required a lot of hard decisions and sacrifices that impacted people’s lives. We were able to successfully mitigate the impacts of the recession and ultimately strengthen the Commonwealth’s long-term fiscal sustainability by working collaboratively with the legislature and other stakeholders. We even earned the highest bond ratings in state history during that time!
One of the key lessons I learned from that experience is that developing strong relationships built on trust and building consensus is a necessary ingredient to overcoming any challenge. It’s important to reach out to others, listen to others, act in good faith, be transparent and collaborate with others. I had the privilege of working with colleagues who understood that and were good at it. I try to bring this lesson to my work at Hinckley Allen and to all aspects of my life each and every day.
What unique skill/perspective/philosophy do you bring to your work?
The breadth of my career experience differentiates me from most lawyers. I want to leverage that experience to add more value for my clients than just providing great technical legal advice. My goal is to be a collaborative, proactive, problem-solving advisor who my clients know they can depend on to help them achieve their objectives and who they consider to be a part of their team. As a partner at a law firm, a government leader and a private-sector health care CEO, I’ve worked collaboratively with others to get big things done and to overcome big challenges in a variety of contexts, and I want to help my clients do the same.
What is the best advice you would give to others?
First, know what energizes and interests you, and be intentional and proactive about pursuing your interests. I often encourage young lawyers to expose themselves to different opportunities, let their mentors know what they are interested in working on and volunteer to help out on projects they are excited about. More often than not, senior associates and partners will want to foster your professional development and accommodate your interests. Don’t be passive about your career and don’t let others decide what you do by default. Find the path you want to walk down, and create opportunities to walk in that direction.
Another thing I often tell young lawyers and other professionals is to be flexible. I always thought I knew what I wanted to do and pursued it, but then other opportunities I never considered emerged. I’m grateful that I was open to them and was willing to take some risks by changing course. It was often challenging, but I grew a lot as a professional and as a person as a result, and it was always rewarding. I know many others who have had similar experiences. So have a plan, but be flexible!
Lastly, be a good colleague, and see the value each of your colleagues brings to your work and to you. Nothing is more important to the success of an organization and to your professional success and happiness than the people with whom you work. One of the things I love about Hinckley Allen is that it is a place that understands and lives that value. The supportive, collaborative, team-oriented culture at Hinckley Allen is one of the most important reasons I decided to join the firm. Everyone should contribute to and expect that type of work environment – don’t settle for anything less.
How do you spend time outside of the firm? How does it make you a better attorney?
I love starting my day with a run. It allows me to clear my head, and I do some of my best thinking while running. On work days, I’m a much better and more productive attorney if I had the chance to run in the morning – I’m lethargic and useless otherwise! It’s also something I often do with my wife, Cyndi, so it’s a great way for us to spend time outside together.
I also love other outdoor activities like hiking, golf, tennis and skiing; I really enjoy a nice meal; I like traveling to experience new places and to enjoy old favorites; I’m a fan of good books and movies; and, most of all, I enjoy spending time with Cyndi and my daughters, Isabel and Abby. I don’t know if any of these activities make me a better lawyer, but I enjoy them nonetheless!
Who’s Who at Hinckley Allen is a series that highlights the personal experiences and skills that make our attorneys valued business partners for our client’s in the pursuit of their business goals. Recently we spoke with Jay Gonzalez – a Partner with extensive public and private sector leadership and legal experience – who shared insights on his collaborative approach to solving client challenges.
Discover more conversations with our talented and dedicated team here.