A Parity of Charity

Carlyn McCaffrey views volunteering as a “natural outgrowth” of her law practice

Published in 2006 New York Metro Super Lawyers Magazine — July 2006

As one of Manhattan’s most successful attorneys, one might assume that Carlyn McCaffrey’s calendar is perpetually packed. However, the co-head of Weil, Gotshal & Manges’ Trusts & Estates department earmarks ample time to helping others. “It seems to be a natural outgrowth of the kind of practice I do, where the clients themselves in many cases are charitably inclined,” she says.

A mother of four, McCaffrey recently welcomed her first grandchild into the world, and devotes a healthy chunk of her free time to visiting her in California. When not working or spending time with family, McCaffrey sits on her firm’s pro bono committee and mentors other lawyers who volunteer time. “Some of my people do tax returns, some do wills, simple trusts and the like. We also help organize small charitable organizations that people set up,” she says. “We’re very committed to the pro bono aspect of our practice, encouraging all of our lawyers — associates as well as partners — to give a substantial portion of their time each year.”

Aside from her pro bono work for Weil Gotshal, McCaffrey also sits on the boards of three organizations: Blythedale Children’s Hospital, the Breast Cancer Research Foundation and the Catholic Communal Fund. McCaffrey also serves on the advisory boards of several prominent New York cultural institutions, including the Central Park Conservancy and the Metropolitan Museum of Art. These institutions “look to trusts and estates lawyers to give them advice on a wide variety of issues connected with running the charitable organization and raising funds,” she says. “It gives me an enormous feeling of satisfaction that I’m able to make a contribution to organizations that are important to me and that I think are performing a significant function in society.”

When describing the relationship between her volunteer efforts and her paid endeavors, McCaffrey says the two are intertwined. “I have many paying clients who have charitable activities of their own, and my own volunteer work makes me better qualified to advise them. It works back and forth; the things I do for paid clients make me more capable of helping the clients I volunteer for.”

Carlyn McCaffrey is a fellow and a past president of The American College of Trust & Estate Counsel, a fellow and regent of The American College of Tax Counsel, and a board member of several organizations, including Blythedale Children’s Hospital, the Catholic Communal Fund and the Breast Cancer Research Fund.

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