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You need to make some big life decisions.
Your spouse is leaving, or maybe it’s you who wants out. You haven’t told the children and the thought of doing so makes your heartache. The thought of supporting yourself alone makes your head spin.
You want a “happy ending,” but you don’t know where to begin.
Take a deep breath.
“Put your own oxygen mask on first.” We’ve all heard those instructions. You’re on a journey now, and the same advice applies. With insight and guidance, you’ll be able to handle this.
My aim is to make your journey as smooth, direct and efficient as possible. Contact us today.
Diane H. Esser (1948-2018) was one of the first women to practice law in Franklin County. She possessed a brilliant legal mind, a generous spirit, and was a trailblazer and role model in the practice of law. Her ability to get to the root of problems and find solutions as expeditiously as possible continues to inspire us. Diane, you may be gone from this earth, but your spirit and determination live on!
As a single mother, Diane finished college and put herself through law school while working nights as a laboratory technician at what is now Baystate Franklin Hospital in Greenfield. After attending Greenfield Community College and the University of Massachusetts Amherst, she graduated from Boston University Law School in 1978.
As a first-year attorney she represented the petitioners at trial in the case that established the doctrine of “substituted judgment.” In The Matter of Spring, 380 Mass. 629 (1980). “Substituted judgment” allows lawyers and judges to formulate important decisions on behalf of minors and incapacitated persons, giving them a voice in crucial legal decisions that impact their lives. The Spring case was a major step forward in the field of disability and guardianship law.
Not surprisingly, Diane’s intellect and energy attracted other lawyers who wanted to practice with her. She became the lead partner of one of the largest law firms in the county, practicing with notable attorneys David Singer, Stewart “Buz” Eisenberg, Robert Wainstein, and Ed Berlin.
With elegance and grit, Diane tried and won difficult cases for her clients. She produced major victories in diverse areas such as land use, divorce, and medical malpractice. She fought for the environment and was ahead of her time in creating land trusts to protect farmland and open spaces.
Practicing long before same-sex marriage was ever legalized, she adapted the legal structures to protect gay and lesbian clients and benefit non-traditional families. She was an expert in creating surrogacy agreements for same sex couples. Diane was so successful that, for a time, gay men from Europe sought out her services and chose surrogate mothers from Western Massachusetts when wanting children.
Diane is perhaps best known for the Reinventing Justice Project where she, along with now-retired Judge Thomas Merrigan, created a community-based “think tank” from which emerged visionary solutions to social and criminal justice problems. Under Diane’s leadership, the Reinventing Justice Project organized town meetings and working groups to bring the voices of Franklin County citizens into the planning process for future programs and a courthouse in Greenfield.
The results of the Diane’s work were incorporated into the Report of the Chief Justice’s Commission on the Future of the Courts (1992, which laid out a blueprint for social and criminal justice policy in the Commonwealth for decades to come. The report urged politicians and policymakers to “to see more clearly the link between social justice and courtroom justice, to understand the economic and demographic forces that will define the societal and justice landscapes of the next century, and to ensure that the public’s trust and confidence is regained and maintained.” Read more…
Over the last twenty-five years, many of Diane’s visionary ideas have been realized. We have a new Courthouse that houses cutting-edge social justice programs. We not only have a drug court in the district court, but a Family Drug Court in the Franklin Probate and Family Court, the first of its kind in the Commonwealth. The Opioid Task Force in Franklin County that has become a statewide model. Diane’s beloved Greenfield Community College has partnered with the Probation department to offer the “Changing Lives Through Literature” course where probationers read works of literature to gain insight into their own rehabilitation
Diane, you may be gone from this earth, but your spirit and determination live on in us!