Mark Tanner

Age 36. Attorney (Associate), Bacon & Wilson/Morse & Sacks

Mark Tanner has taken a circuitous route to the legal profession and his current role as president of the Hampshire County Bar Assoc.

Indeed, upon graduating from the New Mexico Military Institute in 1990, he enrolled at UMass Amherst (where he met his future wife and fellow Forty Under 40 honoree, Sarah) and majored in Hotel/Restaurant Management. After working in that field for a few years, he concluded that its fast pace and long hours were ideal — for someone else.

“I didn’t want to be 40 and working until 4 in the morning,” he said of his decision to first pursue an MBA (at the University of Colorado) and his Juris Doctor at the University of Wyoming. He served as an assistant district attorney in the Bronx before returning to Western Mass. and joining the Northampton firm Morse & Sacks, which merged with Bacon & Wilson in 2005.

Today, Tanner is making prudent use of all those hours he would have spent in the kitchen or the back office. While devoting much of that time to his family and especially his two young daughters, he is also building a law practice focused primarily on plaintiffs’ personal injury, land use and zoning, and general commercial disputes. Meanwhile, he is also very active in the community, starting with Dan, the 12-year-old to whom he serves as a Big Brother.

Other involvement includes work with the Hampshire County United Way, the People’s Institute, a nonprofit day care center in Northampton, and board duties with CISA (Community Involved in Sustaining Agriculture), a group that promotes the buying of produce from farmers in Hampshire and Franklin counties.

And then, there’s the U.S. Army Reserves, in which Tanner holds the rank of captain. “If you stay in, they just keep promoting you,” he joked, noting that he has not been called into service for some time. Years ago, however, he devoted considerable time and energy to the Reserves, serving as what’s known as a “chemical officer,” calculating the effects of a nuclear fallout.

As for the Bar Association, Tanner is wrapping up his one-year stint as president, more time that has been well-spent, he believes, adding that he has focused on re-invigorating the group’s committee structure and, overall, making the organization bigger — and younger.

In short, while he’s no longer in the restaurant business, Tanner has a lot on his plate.

George O’Brien

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