BURLINGTON — Rich Cassidy’s passion for the law was first sparked in 1970, when he was volunteering for former Vermont Governor Phil Hoff’s run for the U.S. Senate as an anti-war candidate.
Amid all the controversy surrounding the Vietnam War, Cassidy said he learned about the wide impact the law could have, and that it could be “a tool for making the world a better place.”
“I said, ‘I want to have that ability in my tool box,’” he said.
It’s that passion that led Cassidy to start a new law firm in Burlington on Nov. 1, called Rich Cassidy Law, with associate Matt Shagam. The firm will focus on representing the individual, with personal injury litigation and employment law as its main areas of practice, along with mediation services.
Cassidy, 63, is a Rutland native and 1971 graduate of Mount St. Joseph Academy, who graduated from the University of Vermont and the Albany Law School of Union University. He has practiced law in Chittenden County since 1980, and still has family in Rutland, including his brother-in-law and sister, Carl and Mary Mazzariello.
Shagam is a 2012 graduate of Vermont Law School, where he additionally earned a master’s degree in environmental law. He has worked with Cassidy since he graduated.
This new chapter in Cassidy’s career comes after 27 years with the Burlington law firm Hoff Curtis, started by Phil Hoff and several co-founders, including Cassidy. Cassidy said he “hated to leave” the firm where he has such deep ties, but he thought the time was right to start on a path that was entirely his own.
The key direction for that path is representing individuals, rather than large business clients.
“Everybody’s available to say, ‘I’ll represent big, rich client,’” Cassidy said. “The average person has a tougher time.”
He added, “The system doesn’t work if people can’t find good counsel. I felt as if I wanted to be that lawyer.”
That said, Cassidy is familiar with both sides of the table in employment cases. His mediation experience has also strengthened that knowledge base over the years. For example, Cassidy mediated the $35 million Burlington Telecomm dispute between Citibank, N.A. and the city of Burlington, which was settled in 2014.
In the coming weeks, Cassidy and Shagam will continue to add more information to their new firm’s website, www.richcassidylaw.com. They want it to be a resource that educates people about the law and provides useful information, whether or not those readers end up becoming clients of the firm.
“We intend to use our website as a place where people who need information can turn,” Cassidy said.
The site will eventually have a blog to serve that purpose, he added.
Cassidy currently blogs at www.onlawyering.com, although that information is mostly for lawyers or other individuals with an interest in law.
Rich Cassidy Law can be reached at 864-8144 or firstname.lastname@example.org. The office is at 100 Main Street in Burlington.