Central MA Up + Comer: Estate Attorney Alicia O’Connell

Thursday, November 28, 2013
Susan Wagner, GoLocalWorcester Contributor

Alicia O'Connell lived the city life and has returned to Worcester to practice law with her father at O'Connell & O'Connell, PC.
Alicia M. O’Connell is a real estate and estate planning attorney at O’Connell & O’Connell, P.C. in her hometown of Auburn. The office is located on the street she grew up on and her business partner is her father, Philip. He started the law practice over thirty years ago and Alicia joined him in 2011. Prior to joining the firm, O'Connell worked in the non-profit sector in Washington, D.C. at national organizations focusing on women’s issues, attended law school in New York City, and began her legal career at a large corporate law firm.

A Conversation With Alicia M. O'Connell

SW: Can you describe your career?

The primary focus of my law practice is residential real estate transactions. We represent lenders, buyers, and sellers. I’m in the age group where a lot of my friends are buying their first homes. The way I explain our services to them is by describing the three important people in the transaction: the real estate agent who helps find the home, the mortgage broker or loan officer who secures the mortgage, and me, the attorney who takes them from signing the Purchase and Sale Agreement to the Closing, the day the house becomes their own.

I also draft estate plans for clients, which consist of Wills, sometimes Trusts, and other important documents, when they ask me for advice on how to best plan for the future.

SW: Youve spent some time away from Central Mass in pretty big cities. What made you decide to return to Worcester?

Washington, D.C. was the perfect city to live in after I graduated from college. I went to Bowdoin College, a small liberal arts school in Maine, and wasn’t ready for a big, big city. I grew immensely working at national non-profit organizations there in my early twenties. I bit the bullet and moved to New York at 26 to go to law school, and fell in love with the city. I was recruited by a top firm before graduation, and began my legal career there. Although I worked with an inspiring group of attorneys and made many good friends at the firm, the competitive and high stress environment was not what I wanted for the long term, and a not an environment I felt I could excel in.

SW: Do you miss bigger city life?

If you’ve lived in and loved a city like New York, you will always miss parts of it. I visit friends when I can. But I’ve never been happier than in the past couple of years since I’ve moved home to Massachusetts. I live in Worcester, and am thrilled at how the city has grown in the years I’ve lived elsewhere.

SW: What is it like working with your father?

We are quite the team. He talks fast and loud and wants to get the deal done. I have a lot of patience with clients and take more time to explain…everything. I think those differences suit the practice well.

My father and I have always been very close. We have the father-daughter relationship down, and the business partner relationship is a work in progress. We communicate in different ways, understand technology differently, and even approach legal questions from different directions. We both get a kick out of these challenges.

SW: Are you involved in the community? If so, how?

I’m a very active volunteer in women’s and youth organizations in Worcester County. I’m a member of the Women’s Initiative of the United Way of Central Massachusetts, sit on two of their committees, and through them, mentor eighth grade middle school girls at the their semi-annual financial literacy conference, Dollar $cholars. I’m currently a mentor for high school junior and senior girls in the Leadership Academy at Girls Incorporated of Worcester, a program I hope to participate in again. I also sit on a committee of the YWCA of Central Massachusetts. It’s wonderful how all of these organizations work together to support the community around us.

SW: What is your favorite social networking site? Why?

Facebook. I “like” all of the organizations I support in the Worcester area as well as Worcester’s local shops and community projects, so it’s easy to get a sense of what’s happening and when in the city I love to live in.

Even though many of my clients come to my office as return clients or through lender or Realtor recommendations, Facebook is a very real way for a small business to relate to the public.

SW: Can you describe a day in your life?

I tend to do household chores before heading to the office in the morning. Once at work, I answer emails and voice mails and make a to-do list for the day. I’ll go to my first Closing, whether it’s in my own office, another attorney’s, or at the Registry of Deeds downtown. In between appointments I’ll do my drafting work for my estate planning clients. Lunch is either something that I’ve packed at my desk, with colleagues downtown or on Shrewsbury Street, or time spent at a committee meeting. I spend at least some part of the afternoon doing something for one of the organizations I volunteer for, whether it’s popping out to mentor or writing something up for a newsletter.

SW: Who or what is the biggest influence in your life?

My family. My parents have always been supportive and encouraging, and I had two amazing, opinionated grandmothers. I still think of them when I make decisions. Would Babcie like this? What would Granny say about that?

SW: What do you think creates success?

A good work ethic, kindness, patience, and open-mindedness.

SW: Where do you see yourself in 10 years?

Living in Worcester. Working at O’Connell & O’Connell, P.C. Being an active volunteer in the community. I love my life.


GoLocalWorcester presents Central MA Up + Comers, a weekly profile of a member of the next generation as they are making their mark on the Central MA workforce and community. Join us every Thursday for a look at the careers and lifestyles of the local digital generation. If you have suggestions for a profile, please email susanwagnerpr@gmail.com.

 Susan Wagner is the president of Susan Wagner PR. In this challenging economy, she has begun a new division to offer affordable start-up packages to new and emerging small businesses and non-profit organizations that include professional writing services, websites, collateral, marketing, social media, grassroots outreach and PR campaigns.


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