Second-generation Members Become Part of Bacon & Wilson’s Growth Pattern
Jeff Fialky didn’t plan to work a few doors down from his father when he set out on a career in law a dozen years ago.
Neither did Todd Ratner when he started work in the marketing field, starting at Anheuser Busch, before later shifting gears and entering law school.
But through a blend of fate and geography — specifically a mutual desire to return to the Pioneer Valley — they are practicing law at the Springfield offices of Bacon & Wilson, where their fathers, Mike Ratner and Gary Fialky, have logged more 50 years between them.
Both members of the second generation applied for openings at the company — there have been several due to an aggressive expansion effort — and prevailed in a hiring process that, by all accounts, granted them no favors because of their last names.
The younger Fialky, who joined the firm last year, is now a member of the firm’s Commercial/Business, Municipal, and Real Estate Groups, handling a wide array of work, while the younger Ratner, who came on in 2003, is now a member of the firm’s Estate Planning & Elder, Real Estate and Business & Corporate departments, spending much of his time in the burgeoning specialty of estate planning.
Their fathers say they neither encouraged their sons to enter law, nor to seek employment at the firm where they’ve been partners for many years, but welcomed the developments as they unfolded.
“They’re both great additions to the firm,” said the elder Fialky, noting, especially in his son’s case, that the timing of the recent openings coincided nicely with the experience he had gained working for large telecommunications companies. “There was a good fit between our needs and his career intentions.”
Said the elder Ratner, “the firm has been in a real growth pattern; the volume of work has increased steadily, and so has the number of attorneys working here. It just so happens that talented people named Fialky and Ratner wanted to be a part of that growth.”
The two members of the second generation, who grew up together in Longmeadow, said essentially the same thing when asked about how they arrived at the same work address as their fathers. They said they chose Bacon & Wilson because the assignments they took made good career sense, and they like the quality of life available here.
Overall, the two new associates’ stories speak to the growth of the firm, but also offer some evidence of a trend that area economic development leaders would like to see more of — young people who leave this region to start their careers but later return for the quality of life in the Pioneer Valley and, while doing so, givie back to the community.
Jeff Fialky, who described his path to Bacon & Wilson — and his focus on corporate law — as a circuitous route, majored in English Literature at the University of New Hampshire but always knew that he would make law his eventual career.
He graduated from Western New England College in 1994 (he clerked at Bacon & Wilson while attending school), and, several months later, became an assistant in the Hampden County District Attorney’s office. After two years there, he shifted gears and started what would be a 10-year stretch with the cable television industry at several Boston-area firms. He worked first at AT&T Broadband, where he eventually became senior operations counsel, before moving on to AT&T Corp. and a position as senior attorney, focusing on regulatory matters and litigation.
In 2004, he went to work for Andover-based Adelphia Communications as senior operations counsel, thus handling most commercial legal matters for the cable television provider.
The work was rewarding on several levels, but the younger Fialky desired a shift into private practice, a stated goal that coincided with a posting in Mass Lawyers Weekly for a position at Bacon & Wilson, one to which he thought he could easily transfer the skills he had acquired in regulatory work and business transactions.
“When I decided to leave the telecommunications industry, I was looking for an opportunity to be in private practice, and started talking to a number of Boston firms,” he said. “But when talking to them and meeting with various personalities and looking at the quality of life that type of situation would afford, and comparing it to this firm and the quality of people and the quality of life here, it was essentially no contest.
“My return to the firm, and my return to the Pioneer Valley, has been much more than I expected,” he continued, adding that he eventually had two solid offers, one in Boston and the other with Bacon & Wilson, and chose the latter. “It’s met, actually, it’s exceeded, every expectation.”
Ratner’s arrival at Bacon & Wilson has some different story lines, but many similarities, especially the part about wanting to return the Springfield area.
He took a bachelor’s degree in Marketing and Entrepreneurial Studies at Babson College and went to work for Anheuser Busch, first as part of something called the Contemporary Marketing Team, which coordinated creative brand promotions of both new and existing projects. He then served as marketing supervisor, working in Chicago, and later as market manager (the company’s youngest) in Bloomington, Ind.
The work was intriguing and rewarding, but Ratner soon had concerns about many aspects of the ladder-climbing nature of the corporate world he was now part of.
“When I spoke with senior vice presidents and talked about their family life and children, they had mentioned that their 15-year-old sons and daughters had been in four or five different school systems,” he explained, adding that he had already moved four times in six years. “And I realized that, while I loved the company, this wasn’t the way in which I wanted to raise a family.”
After earning an MBA at Boston University, he enrolled at the Penn State Dickinson School of Law and eventually transferred to the University of Connecticut School of Law. While in law school, and after graduation, he clerked at Bacon & Wilson, and while in that role he gained an appreciation for the company and its team of lawyers.
He was weighing a possible return to corporate marketing work when a position became available at Bacon & Wilson, he said, adding that he believes his years of experience as a clerk there helped him in his quest to join as an associate.
Both of the new associates say their return to Bacon & Wilson affords opportunities to develop friendships and become involved in the community in ways that likely would not have been possible in either Boston or Hartford.
“My wife is a transplant; she came here from Newton,” said the younger Fialky, who recently joined the board of directors of the American Red Cross. “She’s already feels a sense of attachment to the community that is something which she didn’t experience to the same extent while growing up in Boston. And I feel that same sense of attachment.
“One of the things I really like about being in this area is that you have the ability to immediately effectuate change to the extent that you can become part of the community, join groups, and do things,” he continued. “That’s because organizations in this area are looking for people to raise their hands and get involved. That was really attractive to me.”
The younger Ratner concurred, noting that he and his wife are actively involved with Baystate Childrens Hospital, the American Cancer Society, and other institutions. “I’m just proud to continue the tradition of giving back that was started by those who came before me.”