40 Under 40 Class of 2009

Gina Barry

Gina Barry

Age 36: Shareholder Attorney, Bacon Wilson, P.C.

Gina Barry wasn’t one of those kids who always knew she’d be a lawyer. In fact, she was more interested in marine biology or horse training — until a guidance counselor saw some legal aptitude in her and coaxed her into law.

It took her awhile, but she eventually found a niche she loved.

“In law school, I started to gear myself toward elder law and estate planning because I’ve always been someone who wants to champion the underdog, and protect individuals who often — not always, but often — need a strong advocate on their side,” she said.

“I see people in the middle of great family turmoil,” Barry added, noting common challenges like paying for nursing-home care. “We can devise a plan so that they see the light at the end of the tunnel. I like being able to resolve those issues so the family remains intact.”

And not just people. Her love for animals has led Barry to cultivate an aspect of her practice that handles estate planning for pets. Because Massachusetts law does not allow money to be bequeathed to an animal for its future care, she creates monetary trusts that benefit a specific caregiver with instructions to care for the pet — whether a dog, a cat, a horse, even (in at least one case) a llama.

But Barry doesn’t stop there. She recently launched a nonprofit called The Joy of Jasper that rescues at-risk horses and provides care for them for the remainder of their lives, and also involves at-risk youth in that care.

“When I was a girl, I had a horse named Jasper who was literally my best friend and helped me through a lot of teenage issues, including self-esteem and even discipline issues,” said Barry. “I wanted to bring horses back into my life in such a way that I could share that experience with other teenage girls.”

Sounds like they need a strong advocate on their side.

—Joseph Bednar