History of NECCA
In the mid-1970’s, in-house counsel located in the 128 area had been attending monthly luncheons of the Corporate Counsel Committee of the Boston Bar Association at its Beacon Street, Boston, location. “It was the only game in town for in-house counsel,” as Jay Meltzer, one of NECCA’s founding members, explained. The attendees began to talk about creating their own corporate counsel group in the suburbs rather than making the trip into Boston.
In the fall of 1978, Bob Bigelow, another of NECCA’s founding members, opened a computer law firm in Woburn, MA. Bob contacted Tom Peterson, who was then Regional Counsel for TRW in Burlington, Massachusetts, to inquire if there was a bar association in the area, other than the local regional bar associations often connected with the local district court where most of the members were general practitioners doing little, if any, hi-tech or business law.
The conversations between Bob Bigelow and Tom Peterson and the conversations among the suburban attorneys who attended the Boston Bar Association meetings resulted in the first meeting in early 1979 of what was to become the New England Corporate Counsel Association. That first meeting was attended by seven lawyers: Tom Peterson, Bob Bigelow, Jay Meltzer (then General Counsel of Damon Corp.), Peter Marx (then General Counsel of Interactive Data Corp.), Dick Ballantyne (then General Counsel of Compugraphic), J. Alden (Tad) Lincoln (then Division Counsel of GTE Sylvania), and Jerry Cohen, who was in private practice on Totten Pond Road in Waltham. Thus began regular lunch meetings at what was the (Sheraton) Lexington Inn on Route 2A in Lexington. The group agreed to meet regularly for lunch and concurred that having a discussion and mutual education group would be helpful to all of them. The group also decided to limit membership to in-house counsel, except that Jerry Cohen and Bob Bigelow could belong, and decided to call the group the “128 Corporate Lawyers Forum.
The group continued to meet for some time at the Lexington Inn, with each person paying for his or her lunch. The group eventually outgrew the Lexington Inn and moved to the Officers’ Club at Hanscom Field. Later the group moved to the Pillar House in Newton and finally to the TLC Best Western in Waltham, where NECCA continued to meet until the spring of 2010 when the group changed its venue to the nearby Westin Waltham Hotel beginning in September 2010.
The meetings not only gave attendees the chance to get to know other in-house counsel, but also provided an opportunity to learn of others’ experience with specific issues. Eventually the group decided to implement annual dues, which included lunch. NECCA has continued this tradition to the present. The meetings also evolved into a CLE format, initially a few all-day programs, one on employment law and one on SEC issues, and eventually led to the current format of primarily morning programs followed by lunch, and including seminars on topics such as employment, intellectual property, real estate, insurance, SEC matters, and other issues important to the members. The group soon discovered that law firms were eager to send speakers to talk about any subject of interest to the members.
Bob Bigelow served as the sole officer of the 128 Corporate Lawyers Forum until 1981. Peter Marx took over as Chairman until 1983, and was followed by Jay Meltzer until 1985. On September 1, 1985, the 128 Corporate Lawyers Forum was incorporated in Massachusetts as a Chapter 180 corporation under the name of “Route 128 Corporate Lawyers, Inc.”, with Dick Ballantyne as its first President. In September 1987, the name or the corporation was changed to New England Corporate Counsel Association, Inc.
Presidents of NECCA from its incorporation