40 Under 40 Class of 2007

Antonio Dos Santos

Age 31. Attorney (Associate), Robinson Donovan

Tony Dos Santos can draw a number of parallels between winning public office and building a law practice. And he should know — he’s an associate at Springfield-based Robinson Donovan and a selectman in his hometown of Ludlow.

Success in both realms comes down, in part, to contacts, he explained, noting that having friends and family in Ludlow and acquaintances that go back to grade school and Little League helped him become the top vote-getter among candidates for selectman during the election of 2006. Similarly, contacts can help an attorney grow a client list, and this was the reason he returned to the Pioneer Valley after working in Hartford upon graduation from law school.

But having contacts alone isn’t enough — both in law and town government, he said, adding that, with regard to both constituencies he serves, listening is a required talent, as is looking out for the clients’ long-term interests. Dos Santos has been doing that since he launched his career in law — something he always envisioned himself doing — in 1999.

When he made the move from Hartford to Springfield and Robinson Donovan, he became a memorable part of the firm’s new advertising campaign. In a play on words, the advertisement announcing his arrival focused on the fact that he no longer had a commute, and said he had “lots of talent, but no drive.” He’s still taking some ribbing on that spot, but it has greatly subsided.

When he’s not working or serving his community as selectman — the latter requires often long hours and work ranging from budget meetings to ribbon-cutting ceremonies for new businesses — Dos Santos likes to play golf. He’s an 18-handicapper who plays mostly at Ludlow Country Club, which is also a business client (again, connections). And he knows he had better get some rounds in now, because he and his wife, Shelley, are expecting their second child in August.

Dos Santos said there is talk of changing the governmental structure in Ludlow, with one option being a move toward a mayor, a step taken by many area communities. What such a development might mean for his political career, he’s not sure. He’s focused on today — and on making more of those connections he spoke of.

George O’Brien