Opening Statements

Paradise Lawst

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Brian T. Dougan, a litigator at Boston based Gibson & Behman, has become the ultimate island hopper. This spring, Dougan starts splitting his time between offices in Rhode Island and the U.S. Virgin Islands.

We had these questions for Dougan, the director of the firm’s newly opened outpost on St. John:

How did you land this sweet gig?

Some of our existing clients insure property down in the islands, and they asked the firm to become involved in some of their general liability cases down there. We initially hooked up with local counsel, but since that time, we’ve continued to get more cases, so we opened an office on St. John. … The managing partner asked me if I was interested in heading up the practice [there], and I told him I was up for the challenge.

What have people’s reactions been like?

Pretty much like yours. They say, “Oh that’s such a tough job,” and they wish they could be the ones to travel down to such beautiful weather. But certainly it’s not all fun and games. It’s actually a lot of work. It’s a new environment, new rules that’s been the biggest challenge because there are local rules that are different from any I’ve encountered in Rhode Island or Massachusetts. And it’s a very small, very close bar down there, so it’s been a process to fit in.

Did you get to waive into the bar?

No, I had to take the bar exam. I sat for the bar in July and got sworn in in December.

I am calling you in Providence, R.I. what are you doing still in the States?

I am not planning on moving there full time. As our caseload grows, I will be there more and more, but right now it makes sense for me to be there only when I need to be. In the next three months, I will be down there maybe a week or two weeks every month. We have just started advertising in the [local] bar journal for a full time contract attorney who will manage the office on a day to day basis.

When you’re there, do you wear shorts to work?

I don’t. If I know I am meeting with a client or I am going to court, I’ll wear a suit. But usually I’ll wear a button down or a polo with khakis. It’s definitely more casual, but attorneys who are appearing in court are always dressed in a suit.

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