Mary Marshall was exposed at an early age to real estate development by both her father and mother.
“My father was an architect, and my mother was working for a program dealing with planning in coastal zones, so I saw early on the intersection between regulatory authority and land use development,” Marshall said.
That early experience has served her well. As a partner at Nutter, McClennen & Fish, Marshall is one of the most prominent real estate lawyers in Massachusetts, with a particular expertise in development matters within the city of Boston. She has more than 30 years of experience as an attorney, working for a broad range of clients from nonprofits to private developers, advising them on zoning, land use and environmental law matters.
Marshall was born in New York City, the only girl among three brothers. The family moved to the Boston area when she was 5. She attended Notre Dame University, and graduated in 1986 from Boston College law school. She spent five years at Rackemann, Sawyer & Brewster in Boston, before forming her own firm Pitt, Hubbard & Marshall LLP, with two other women colleagues. The firm represented clients in all aspects of property acquisitions and dispositions, financing, leasing, land use, title, zoning, permitting and environmental matters.
“Everyone should have their own firm at some point,” Marshall said. “You deliver mail, fix computers when they crash, deal with clients, find and retain employees. It’s quite educational.”
After 11 years at her own firm, Marshall joined Ropes & Gray in 2003. She has been at Nutter since 2011.
In the hard-charging real estate field, Marshall has often been the only woman in the room, but thinks women are particularly well suited for the profession.
“I’m not sure if it’s my own bias, but I think women are particularly good at collaboration,” she said. “It has to be a collaborative effort. No one person could put together what I have been lucky to have worked on. You need an interface between architects, clients, regulatory authorities, engineers to create something that works.”
One of Marshall’s notable projects is the redevelopment of Congress Square. Marshall represented an affiliate of Related Beal LLC in its redevelopment of six existing, historically sensitive buildings in downtown Boston into 530,800 square feet of office, residential and hotel space. She also advised Boston Properties on its redevelopment of the Hancock Garage and the adjacent Back Bay train station, known as the Back Bay/South End Gateway Project, and represented Brigham and Women’s Hospital in the redevelopment of the former Massachusetts Mental Health Center into a 383,250-square-foot, state-of-the-art research and clinical facility known as BWH’s Center for Transformative Medicine.
She says constructing a healthy work/life balance is one of the keys to success, and not just for women.
“I think young men and women face the same challenges,” she said. “While work is important; it’s not the only thing in life. People should have the ability to make time for all those other important things. It enhances a person professionally and helps them to be part of their community.”
A Boston resident, Marshall has been an avid fundraiser for the Dana Farber Cancer Institute, and for the American Red Cross of Eastern Massachusetts, where she is a member of the Tiffany Circle of Women Leaders. She is also a past member of several local nonprofit boards.