Attorney Nicole Bluefort: “Constructive feedback is the key to building a team and camaraderie”

Constructive feedback is the key to building a team and camaraderie. Be aware of what the expectations are and what the duties are. Be straightforward. Be honest. Show appreciation to the team members and ensure that they feel valuable and empowered. As a part of my series about strong female leaders, I had the pleasure […]

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Constructive feedback is the key to building a team and camaraderie. Be aware of what the expectations are and what the duties are. Be straightforward. Be honest. Show appreciation to the team members and ensure that they feel valuable and empowered.

As a part of my series about strong female leaders, I had the pleasure of interviewing Attorney Nicole Bluefort. Nicole is known for her aggressive representation as an experienced trial attorney leading a six-person law firm with offices in Lynn and Boston. With a practice focused on family law, criminal defense, probate, and general litigation, she has also served as an Adjunct Professor at North Shore Community College’s ABA Approved Paralegal Program, where she taught Civil Litigation, Legal Research, and Field Placement. A graduate of Boston College with a Bachelor’s degree in Communications and Hispanic Studies, she went on to earn her Juris Doctor from Northeastern University School of Law and a Master’s degree in Public Health from Tufts University School of Medicine. After graduating from law school, Nicole completed a two-year term as a judicial clerk for the first African American to be appointed to the Massachusetts Appeals Court, Judge Frederick Brown. Nicole is featured on billboards throughout the North Shore and Boston, has appeared on major networks such as CNN, ESPN, and FOX, and has commented on various legal issues in Massachusetts Lawyers Weekly. She has been named to the North Shore Community College’s Board of Trustees by Governor Charlie Baker, the Massachusetts Lawyers Weekly Top Women of Law 2018, the National Bar Association’s Top 40 Under 40 — Nation’s Best Advocates, and has received The Network Journal’s “40 Under Forty Achievers” Award, the President’s Marathon Challenge Award for Community-Based Research, the Denise Carty-Bennia Memorial Bar Award, and most recently the 2019 Business Woman of the Year Award.

Thank you so much for doing this with us! Can you tell us a story about what brought you to this specific career path?

At first, I wanted to be pre-med when at Boston College I didn’t have a passion for sciences and math so; I decided to go into the discovery phase of trying different courses. When I was in the last semester of my junior year, I was invited to be treasurer of the Black Law Students Association. started to bring in judges and lawyers to speak to members. I quickly discovered that many of skills are necessary for a lawyer, were my strengths. I was skilled and loved advocating for others.

I applied to law schools and went to Northeastern Law School and did jointly with Tufts medical school. I got a prestigious clerkship after graduating from law school; highly sought after for law school grads and landed with Mass Appeals Court working for Justice Frederick Brown who is the first African American to be appointed to Mass Appeals Court. I not only got him as a mentor, but he was able to walk me through skills, what to expect and how law is treated from judge’s perspective.

Day in and day out; researching, writing and listening to arguments has uncovered a unique set of skills. It was finished there in August 2011 and till December; I was trying to figure out what I wanted to do. If I had ended up landing an opportunity quickly, I would have never known what I could accomplish as a businesswoman so I am very grateful for that and for my journey.

From December 2011; I created my opportunity and have started a law firm. By starting with office space; I was introduced to a mentor; Attorney Donald Stewart. He was transitioning from practicing in Massachusetts to New Hampshire, where he was residing and allowed me to do things and help him as he transitioned out. He gave me my start to being successful.

My goal at the time was to emulate my mentor’s success and I did not realize that I could grow and turn my business into something so special. I did not anticipate people coming to me asking for help.

Can you share a story about the funniest mistake you made when you were first starting? Can you tell us what lesson you learned from that?

When I was first starting out, I didn’t know how to charge people. I was giving pricing that was extremely low, not knowing what market value truly was. It is funny to look back at how I was undercharging in the beginning without knowing my true worth and the value I was bringing to clients.

What do you think makes your company stand out? Can you share a story?

Our firm is extremely diverse. Our staff includes; an attorney from Brazil, an attorney from Albania and two supporting members that are Spanish speaking. Another thing that makes us stand out is that I take pride in my personal touch and that I am hands-on with strategy on all cases through my firm.

Are you working on any exciting new projects now? How do you think that will help people?

This year I am doing a lot of outreach to the community. I am speaking about the issues women face in the workplace, women in leadership, empowerment and estate planning. For example, I have an opportunity coming up at Boston Medical Center where I will be speaking about estate planning.

What advice would you give to other female leaders to help their team to thrive?

Constructive feedback is the key to building a team and camaraderie. Be aware of what the expectations are and what the duties are. Be straightforward. Be honest. Show appreciation to the team members and ensure that they feel valuable and empowered.

None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards who helped get you to where you are? Can you share a story about that?

Attorney Donald Stewart was such an influential person who set me up for success. He gave me an opportunity to study under him, provided me with an office to work in, but also allowed me to work on setting up my own practice. Under his tutelage, I was able to take the risk and build something great.

How have you used your success to bring goodness to the world?

I strongly believe in giving back to society and the community that has long supported me, and my philanthropic work and volunteer activities reflect this commitment and unwavering passion. I regularly assist in neighborhood community service projects, doing my part whenever possible to better the community and surrounding areas in which we all live. I serve as a volunteer for the Volunteer Lawyer’s Project of the Boston Bar Association, where I provide pro bono civil legal assistance to low-income residents of the North Shore and Boston Area, and as a tutor and mentor for children in local neighborhoods.

What are your “5 Leadership Lessons I Learned From My Experience” and why. (Please share a story or example for each.)

· Be transparent.

· Build a team with complimentary skillsets.

· Be metrics driven.

· Listen — talk less and listen more.

· Empower your staff.

You are a person of great influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amounts of good to the most amounts of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. 🙂

Community service and giving back. I can’t express that enough. It means so much to me. Find a passion for what you love to do. I love to mentor women. I love children, and college students. I saw the results first hand when someone took the time and invested in me.

Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?

“Tall trees experience strong wind.” I like this because I am such a person who sees the good in everyone. As you become successful, you cannot turn a blind eye that not everyone wants to see you grow, or be supportive of your dreams. Sometimes the further you go, the harder it can be to go forward. You need to press forward for your dreams.

Is there a person in the world, or in the US with whom you would love to have a private breakfast or lunch with, and why? He or she might just see this if we tag them 🙂

Judge Mathis — He uses the law to get people on the right track. He had a tough upbringing and turned his life around and has been so successful. He had the odds stacked up against him. It’s amazing how he became successful and made his career about what’s right and wrong with the law. He tries to give people second chances. He has had big impact on youth and helps young adults in asserting themselves.

Also, Oprah Winfrey because of her entrepreneurship and philanthropy. Being a savvy business woman and serial entrepreneur she is great inspiration for me.

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