LYNN — Attorney Nicole Bluefort, the Lynn Area Chamber of Commerce’s 2019 Business Woman of the Year, grew up in Lynn. When the 2002 Classical High grad started her law practice eight years ago, there was only one place to set up shop: in the city that helped shape her, of course.
“It was a no-brainer to start in Lynn, my hometown,” she said.
Her parents, Jeannette and Sam Bluefort, still live here, as does her sister Tanisha’s family. Aunt Nicole smiles widely as she lovingly talks about Tanisha’s children, Julia, Avery and Alex Contreras Jr.
The 34-year-old attorney, who has earned the reputation of being an aggressive advocate for clients, is especially happy about receiving the Lynn Chamber’s award, which is given annually in recognition of a local business leader’s commitment to public service, philanthropy, and community.
“This award is so meaningful. I love this city and I appreciate all the Chamber of Commerce does for our community,” Bluefort said. “Part of what I do is give back, to mentor and tutor young people. It is so important. Being able to give back is important to me, especially in the community I grew up in.”
Bluefort has a satellite office on Boston’s prestigious State Street, but she said her main base of operations will always be in Lynn. You probably saw her likeness on a billboard that until recently towered over Wyoma Square.
Bluefort attended Lincoln-Thompson Elementary School and Breed Middle School and graduated from Classical. She earned her Bachelor’s degree in Communications and Hispanic Studies from Boston College in 2006, and received a Juris Doctor degree from Northeastern University Law School and a Master’s degree in Public Health from Tufts University School of Medicine. She opened her law practice in December 2011, right after completing a two-year term as a judicial clerk for Judge Frederick Brown, the first African American to be appointed to the Massachusetts Appeals Court.
“Initially, I had no interest in starting my own office,” she said. But the Great Recession was in full bloom. Law firms were cutting back, not hiring. “I decided to create my own opportunity.”
Her first office was on Broadway. “I really had humble beginnings. I started with nothing. I had no clients. All I had was a dream and the drive to succeed.” In 2016, she moved to her current address, 583 Chestnut St., a large brick building that houses numerous businesses.
She and her staff of six — all women — specialize in family law, criminal defense, probate and estate planning, and general litigation. She spends much of her workday in court.
“I’m known for being very aggressive in court. People want someone to strongly advocate for them,” she said.
“I am very lucky. My dad is from South Carolina and my mom is from Wareham, Mass. They moved up here because job opportunities weren’t great down south. They both work very hard. I am a first-generation college student, my mom and dad and everyone else in our family never went to college. It was a huge deal for us. When I got my Bachelor’s degree, I think my dad was thinking ‘OK, honey. Time to get a job.’ But when I decided to go to law school, my parents were supportive, and they have supported whatever my decisions were.”
Giving back is an important part of her life.
“My passion for philanthropy and mentorship, and my commitment to this community, are central to who I am. I’m thankful each day that I’m in a position to have such a positive impact on this community.”
Gov. Charlie Baker appointed her to the North Shore Community College Board of Trustees. She was a NSCC adjunct professor and taught paralegal classes there for a couple of years. She also serves on the board of the Big Sister Association of Greater Boston, and mentors two girls there.
“In my free time, I do a lot of community work. Is that relaxing? Yes it is! Sitting on boards is great. What an opportunity. But I really enjoy mentoring young people. I love that I can do that.
“Growing up in Lynn, I experienced diversity. It stayed with me, I appreciated it. At college, I didn’t see that diversity.” The Upward Bound program, which helps first-generation or low-income students prepare for college, was a lifesaver, she said. “In eighth grade I knew I wanted to go to college but not much beyond that. Someone from Upward Bound came to Breed and helped me immensely.”
What does the future hold? Tewksbury resident Bluefort hopes to expand to a third location, in nearby New Hampshire, on Cape Cod or maybe in New York. The main office will always be in Lynn.
“And I’d eventually like to be a judge, a family and probate court judge, in Essex or Suffolk County,” she said matter-of-factly. “Judges are appointed by the governor. “And there will always be community work. Always.”