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Worcester Attorney Polly Tatum Becomes the 100th-and first African American-President of the Worcester County Bar Association

The Worcester County Bar Association (WCBA) announced Worcester Attorney Polly A. Tatum as the President for the term beginning in September 2011. President-elect Tatum will become the 100th president of the Association. She will be only the third female as well as the first African American to preside over the WCBA.

Presently, Attorney Tatum is a solo practitioner focusing on Divorce and Family Mediation, Same Sex and Second Parent Adoptions, Family Law, and Estate Planning. She has conducted seminars for local bar associations, divorce support groups, the public, and the Massachusetts Council on Family Mediation. Tatum estimates that she has conducted over 3000 mediation cases, and she works with as many as 10-20 couples each week, including those in non-traditional as well as traditional relationships.

As a divorce lawyer and mediator, Polly A. Tatum brings a wealth of understanding and experience to her family law and mediation practice. In 1994, Tatum completed her final year of law school at Massachusetts School of Law (MSL) while supporting three small children. Since entering private practice in 1997 she has focused on family law.

Before becoming an attorney, Tatum held several positions in human services. “I was searching for a way to combine both of my professional backgrounds. That is how I chose family law and eventually mediation. I believe that mediation is the best option for families and individuals to resolve their conflicts.”

Tatum was an early advocate of mediation, particularly in divorce cases. She received her initial training in 1997 when she left the office of Worcester’s City Solicitor and struck out on her own. “My personal and professional history has helped shape my career and my commitment to public service,” she says.

Attorney Tatum brings to WCBA presidency a unique background of both public and private service with a personal dedication to community service and involvement, having served as an Executive Committee member and a four-term co-chair of the Alternative Dispute Resolution Committee for the Worcester County Bar Association. She has served Worcester County through her work on numerous nonprofit boards including those of Girls, Inc., The United Way of Central Massachusetts, and The MLK, Jr., Business Empowerment Center. Tatum received the 2005 Katherine Forbes Erskine Award for Business and Law.

“Steven Zack, the current president of the American Bar Association, made the statement that a good lawyer makes a living while a great lawyer makes a difference,” says Tatum. “As members of the legal profession we are all dedicated to maintaining the high ethical standards of the profession while providing ongoing service to the public. On the 125th anniversary of the Worcester Bar Association it is our goal to become even more engaged and involved in the community than we already are.” Tatum is honored and humbled by the opportunity to join the ranks of the highly distinguished and respected lawyers who have preceded her as president of this accomplished organization, and she already has a clear direction for her upcoming term.

“My presidency will focus on a couple of key initiatives. The first is continuing the work begun by John Shea, one of our past presidents, regarding our strategic plan. I will strive to ensure that the WCBA will become an even more collegial and inclusive organization that continues to provide its growing membership with rewarding personal and professional experiences. We will make advocacy and the delivery of relevant services to our members and our community a focus for this upcoming year. The second is partnering with other associations to implement innovative community initiatives and relief efforts. Devoting time and professional skill to public service is a hallmark of the legal profession and this presidency.”

Tatum’s long history of community involvement in Worcester County reflects and honors the rich ethnic and cultural heritage present in the Worcester community. As president, she will look to uphold the Association’s legacy of inclusiveness while enhancing the continuing educational offerings, resources, and programs for WCBA members and expanding community outreach with regard to current students and future lawyers.

Attorney Tatum continues to recommend the law as a career and MSL as a place at which to learn the law. She hopes her daughter, currently in her first semester at MSL, will join her practice in the coming years. Tatum’s eldest daughter graduated from Tufts University in 2008 and her youngest has begun her senior year at Hampton University. In addition to her legal and maternal vocations, Tatum is a self-described “big sports fan” who follows all the New England teams and occasionally plays golf. She proudly admits, however, that most of her free time during the upcoming year will be devoted to her new position as President of the Worcester County Bar Association.

Polly Tatum was born in Ayer, Massachusetts, and is a long time Worcester resident. She obtained her Bachelor of Science degree from New Hampshire College, her J.D. from Massachusetts Law School in Andover, Massachusetts, in 1994, and an LLM in Estate Planning and Elder Law from Western New England College School of Law in 2009.


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