Lynn lawyer Bruce Sachar remembered as ‘one of a kind’

LYNN — Family, friends and former colleagues will remember well-known Lynn lawyer Bruce Sachar for overhauling the civil case process at Lynn District Court, his devotion to his grandchildren and authoring a quirky book.

"He was one of a kind," said Sachar's daughter, Stephanie Bartram. "He had a great sense of humor. Even in the end, he was making his nurses laugh. I was very lucky and fortunate to have been able to call him my father. He was just one of those people you would meet and instantly like, just happy and warm-hearted all the time."

Sachar died Monday after a battle with pancreatic cancer. He was 85.

Bartram said Sachar was an amazing father and grandfather. His grandchildren were his life and he loved watching their youth sports, she said.

Sachar would check in by email with his kids each Monday, looking for weekly schedules so he could plan which of their youth sports games he could attend.

"He was able to balance his work and life and made time for his kids," said his son Matthew Sachar. "He never missed a sporting event growing up. He never missed a game or practice. He was always there."

Bartram said her father is the reason she wanted to become a lawyer. She took over his Lynn law practice.

Sachar practiced law for almost 50 years, getting his start with the Essex County District Attorney's office. He was the first assistant district attorney to practice, or hear a case at Lynn District Court, according to Bartram.

Most of his career was spent in private practice, but fellow attorneys may know him as the former president of both the Greater Lynn Bar Association and Essex County Bar Association.

Although he grew up and spent most of his life in Lynn, Sachar lived in Swampscott for about seven years in the 1980s and served a term on the town's Board of Selectmen.

"Everybody knew Bruce because he was such a popular guy," said Rick Vitali, assistant city solicitor for Lynn. "He was sort of someone I would go to for questions because he was always there to help and he was a good friend."

Sachar appears to have left the greatest professional impact on Lynn District Court. In the 1980s and 1990s, the court had a serious problem with an excess of 1,500 civil cases in its backlog that could not be reached or heard, as Lynn court was being overwhelmed by criminal cases, according to Loring Fluke, a good friend of Sachar and fellow attorney who shared office space with him for 40 years on Lewis Street.

In the mid-1990s, Sachar and the late Judge Joseph Furnari started a civil conciliation program, which eased the backlog by bringing in local attorneys who offered their pro bono services to mediate the cases, Fluke said.

They took every civil case filed in court, every paper file and sent letters to both sides asking if the case was still open and had the involved parties contact them to see what needed to be done, said Anne Gugino Carrigan, who was brought on to help address the problem. Lynn went from years of backlog to now having one of the fastest turnarounds of a civil case between the time of filing and the time of trial, she said.

To this day, attorneys from the Greater Lynn Bar Association volunteer their time in court and mediate civil cases, according to Gugino Carrigan, who presides over the program.

Before it started, it took about seven years to get a civil trial in Lynn District Court. Now it takes about seven months, according to James Carrigan, a Lynn attorney who is also married to Gugino Carrigan.

"What he did for the Lynn Civil Court was remarkable," said Carrigan, who volunteers with the conciliators program. "He saved the commonwealth and taxpayers a lot of time and money."

Sachar also reorganized and breathed life into the Greater Lynn Bar Association, Carrigan said.

Sachar was awarded with both the Ronan Family Jurisprudence Award from the Essex County Bar Association and the John Jennings Advocacy Award from the Greater Lynn Bar Association, according to Fluke.

"Bruce was a lawyer you had nothing but respect for, nothing but feelings that when you were dealing with him, you were getting a fair shot," Vitali said. "He knew what he was talking about, always advancing the interests of his clients, not in a contentious, adversarial way, but in a civil way."

Because of his sterling reputation in the community, Vitali said it came as a shock to hear about the charges leveled against his friend, who was accused of stealing money from an account belonging to clients to feed a gambling addiction. It eventually led to his disbarment about a decade ago.

Vitali said he was devastated because Sachar was someone he looked up to and considered a top notch lawyer.

"I stand by Bruce through thick and thin," Vitali said. "Everybody sort of deserves to be looked at in the totality of what they do. Yeah, he made a mistake, but his career shouldn't be remembered for that. His career should be remembered for all the good he did, all the people he helped over the years."

Aside from his career, those close to him remember Sachar for his quick wit and sense of humor.

Fluke and several others talked about a book Sachar wrote with an offbeat title, "From the Chicken House to the Court House," which detailed his growing up in the Brickyard in West Lynn and alluded to his time spent working in a chicken store in Lynn, where the birds were killed, plucked and sold over the counter.

An avid golfer and longtime member of Gannon Golf Course, Matthew said his father was also always seen with his Sunday New York Times crossword book.

"(The loss) is obviously tough, but he's much more comfortable and we realize now that's what we want," Matthew said. "We're happy he's comfortable and not in pain anymore, but he will be terribly missed."


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