Matthew J. Lawlor


  • Overview


    Matthew Lawlor is an attorney with Robinson+Cole in the firm's Boston office and a member of the Real Estate + Development Group, where he focuses his practice on representing public authorities and agencies, lenders, developers, nonprofits, and commercial landlords and tenants in matters involving transit-oriented and mixed-use development, affordable housing, commercial real estate development and leasing, and land use and planning law. His experience includes drafting and negotiating long-term ground leases of new development, obtaining permits and land use entitlements for developers of large-scale, mixed-use projects, and drafting new land use regulatory provisions, including form-based codes. Mr. Lawlor frequently presents at planning and real estate industry conferences on the related topics of land use regulation, New Urbanism, and smart growth.

    Mr. Lawlor works extensively with the firm's representation of the Congress for the New Urbanism/New England Chapter as that organization's pro bono counsel and treasurer. Before attending law school, he worked for Comsis Corporation in Silver Spring, Maryland, as a consulting transportation planner for local and state governments.

  • Experience
    • Experience


      • Representing developer designated by municipality for large mixed-use, transit-oriented development in the Boston area to include over 900 residential units, a 125-room hotel, and 187,000 square feet of retail, office, and cultural uses and structured parking for 2,000+ cars, all arranged around a public plaza and with enhanced access to the adjacent transit station.
      • Represented developer involved in the land use permitting of a proposed 50-unit residential and retail condominium development to be located on a former auto service station less than one-fourth of a mile from an MBTA commuter rail station in a western suburb of Boston, Massachusetts.
      • Represented developer of multiunit condominium project in the Allston neighborhood of Boston in successful proceedings before the Boston Landmarks Commission under the city's demolition delay ordinance. Developer ultimately obtained demolition permit and avoided landmarking petition by neighbors.
      • Represented hotel owner/operator in obtaining necessary municipal approvals for a major interior renovation of a property located in Boston’s recently adopted Groundwater Conservation Overlay District.
      • Represented national self-storage company in obtaining necessary local approvals for location of moving vehicle rental at an existing facility in a Boston suburb.
      • Represented a major real estate investment trust in land use permitting analysis in connection with the acquisition of an under-construction, 330-unit multifamily development in a southern suburb of Boston.
      • Represented start-up litigation support company in initial lease and subsequent expansion for approximately 6,700 square feet at financial district location.
      • Represented high-tech personnel evaluation software and service provider in relocation from South Shore to approximately 14,000 square feet of space in downtown Boston.
      • Represented major data support firm in negotiations to relocate from the financial district to approximately 42,000 square feet of space in the Back Bay.
      • Represent an academic institution in connection with its relocation to a new 350-student campus to be built in conjunction with a private multifamily, 120-unit condominium. Representation included drafting and negotiation of the purchase and sale agreement with the property owner and the joint venture agreement with the private real estate developer. Handling all due diligence, design, permitting, construction, and financing-related aspects of the project on the school's behalf.
      • Represented city in northern suburbs of Boston as special zoning counsel in the adoption of a path-breaking form-based code for redevelopment of a 15-acre area in the city's downtown as a new mixed-use, transit-oriented district.
      • Working with consultant team on development of a new form-based code covering a new development area at the convergence of three towns in the northern suburbs of Boston.
      • Representing community development corporation on the redevelopment of single-story, underutilized commercial buildings in a neighborhood commercial district of Boston as mixed-use commercial and residential buildings oriented to a nearby commuter rail transit station.
      • Represented residential property owners on the development of new roof decks on abutting property in the South End of Boston.
      • Representing commercial property in an inner-ring suburb of Boston on opposition to a new billboard structure built in contravention of local zoning requirements and the Massachusetts Zoning Act.
      • Representing lender on the re-phasing and re-positioning of a major mixed-use development in the northern suburbs of Boston.
      • Advised the City of Lowell, Massachusetts, regarding the development of the Hamilton Canal District Form-Based Code (HCD FBC). Robinson & Cole’s primary responsibilities included reviewing and suggesting revisions to the code as it was developed, drafting and advising the City on administrative and implementation procedures, and providing a legal analysis of the final HCD FBC’s consistency with state zoning and subdivision law.
      • Representation of lender in the workout of a major mixed-use project in a southern suburb of Boston with respect to modification and extension of permits and approvals.
      • Representation of nonprofit community development corporation in the acquisition and development of a 16 to 20-unit transit-oriented, mixed-use project in a Boston neighborhood.
      • Advised transportation authority on title and transactional matters related to acquiring certain temporary and permanent interests in real estate with certain municipalities in eastern Massachusetts for accessibility improvements, including new elevators, in connection with the authority's settlement of a disabled patron accessibility class lawsuit. Work has included extensive title research, preparation of a title report delineating the authority’s current and proposed interests at the stations, and successful completion of contract negotiations through memorandums of agreement with each municipality.
      • Advised transportation authority regarding title and transactional aspects of acquisition of real estate rights from public and private owners for construction of new elevators and station renovations regarding selected station accessibility program. This project included negotiation of memorandums of agreement and preparation of in-depth title reports on the statutory and record title basis for authority’s interests at the stations.
      • Advised transportation authority regarding release by a certain municipality in eastern Massachusetts of certain Article 97 lands in public parkland for the construction of the new surface-to-subway elevator in connection with the authority's settlement of a disabled patron accessibility class lawsuit.
      • Representation of developer in the zoning relief process for a 22-unit, mixed-income residential development in the Roslindale neighborhood of Boston on behalf of the Roslindale Field Development Corporation, a joint venture of Southwest Boston Community Development Corporation and Urban Edge Housing Corporation.
      • Collaborated with a community foundation in a Midwestern U.S. city on implementation of a recently adopted urban design element for the city's master plan, including substantial amendments to the city's zoning and subdivision codes to produce better urban design and development forms.
      • Assisted local counsel in successful defense of final plan approval for 20-story high-rise development in the town center of Columbia, Maryland. Zoning Board of Appeals hearing examiner ruled that neighbor appellants (some of whom were direct abutters) lacked standing.
      • Represented multiple commercial tenants in lease negotiations with major office space landlords in various office submarkets in Boston, Massachusetts.
      • Represented commercial landlord in a 42,000-square foot lease to a major national clothing and accessories retailer in western Massachusetts. In related transactions, represented landowner in finalizing tax increment financing and negotiating a parking agreement for the property.
      • Affordable Housing

      • Represented a national bank in its role as a lender for the Cambridge Housing Authority's (CHA) first four Rental Assistance Demonstration (RAD) conversion deals. The bank closed the tax-exempt bond financing for 511 units of public housing conversions under HUD's RAD program. The RAD program was created to give public housing authorities a tool to preserve and improve public housing properties by restructuring HUD subsidies into long-term contracts that facilitate the private financing of improvements. These first four transactions are part of a long-term project to convert all 2,129 of CHA's public housing units to RAD. The bank is the top affordable housing finance provider in the country, lending $3.2 billion in 2014.

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    • Professional Associations

      Professional Associations

      Boston Bar Association
      Co-Chair Real Estate Law Section

      Walk Boston
      Board President

      Congress for the New Urbanism
      Board Treasurer of New England Chapter

      Citizens' Housing and Planning Association
    • Honors + Awards

      Honors + Awards

      Board Distinguished Service Award, Southeast Boston Community Development Corporation

      Listed as a Rising Star in Massachusetts Super Lawyers® in the area of Land Use/Zoning Law for 2008, and 2010 - 2011/2012 (Super Lawyers is a registered trademark of Key Professional Media, Inc.)

      Robinson+Cole Pro Bono Service Award Recipient, 2016

    • Community Involvement

      Community Involvement

      New Brook Farm

      WalkUP Roslindale
      Co-Founder of Steering Committee
    • Publications


      "Getting down to specifics for Boston's growth zones," published in REBA News, a publication of the Real Estate Bar Association of Massachusetts (March 2015)
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      "Tweaking the System: Getting Projects Built and Codes Changed within the Existing Framework," coauthor of chapter 3 in A Legal Guide to Urban and Sustainable Development, Wiley & Sons, Inc. (2008)

      "LEED-ND Pilot Rating System Establishes New Building Guidelines," published in Banker & Tradesman (2/11/2008)

      A Legal Guide to Urban and Sustainable Development for Planners, Developers, and Architects (2008)

      "Helping Communities Make Their Regulations Work for Mixed Use" (Parts 1 & 2) coauthored with Brian Blaesser (12/2007 and 1/2008) published in Retail Law Strategist
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      "Governor Patrick Signs Legislation to Exempt Landlocked Tidelands from Chapter 91 Licensing," published in New England Chapter of the Congress for the New Urbanism, co-authored with Karl P. Baker (Winter 2007)

      "Helping Communities Make Their Regulations Work for Mixed Use," published in Retail Law Strategist, co-authored with Brian W. Blaesser, (Parts 1 & 2) (12/2007 and 1/2008)

      "Chapter 40R: A Good Law Made Better Finally Starts Showing Results," (Fall 2006)
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      "Legal Issues in Land Development/Recent Developments in the Law," comments offered to the Boston Society of Civil Engineers, focusing on eminent domain and regulatory takings, Boston, Massachusetts (5/31/2006)

      "Chapter 40R: A New Mechanism for Encouraging Housing Construction," published in Massachusetts Lawyers Weekly, co-authored with Michael S. Giaimo (12/2004)

    • Presentations


      "Negotiating & Drafting Office & Retail Leases," presented MCLE seminar; examined similarities, differences, issues, and negotiated solutions of office and retail leasing transactions (4/23/2013)

      "Context-Based Zoning and Other Innovative Tools," at Southern New England American Planning Association Conference: Planning at the Crossroads, Panelist (9/2012)

      "The ABCs of Form-Based Codes & FBC301: Completing, Adopting, and Administering Code," Course Instructor (May 2011)

      "Affordable Housing Law (Chapter 40B)," at Boston Bar Association Real Estate Section, moderator (September 2010)

      "An Introduction to Form-Based Codes," at the Zoning Reform Working Group of the Massachusetts Smart Growth Alliance, Boston, Massachusetts (11/25/2008)

      "Omaha by Design," at the Annual Conference of the American Planning Association (4/2008)

      "Site Acquisition: Negotiating and Drafting the Purchase and Sale of Real Property," at Lorman Education Seminar on Real Estate Development in Massachusetts from Beginning to End in Dedham, Massachusetts (11/16/2007)

      "Site Selection and Due Diligence," at Lorman Education Seminar on Real Estate Development in Massachusetts from Beginning to End in Dedham, Massachusetts (11/16/2007)

      "New Urbanism, Conventional Zoning, and Form-Based Codes," at the CNU 101 seminar in Peterborough, New Hampshire, sponsored by the New England Chapter of the Congress for the New Urbanism (10/2007)

      "Chapter 205 of the Acts of 2006 - The Expedited and Streamlined Permitting Law," at roundtable discussion with David Sterrett, Boston Bar Association's Land Use Development Committee (10/3/2006)
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      "Smart Growth Overlays Join Chapter 40B: Massachusetts Goes for the Carrot to Encourage Denser Housing Development," at Lorman Education Seminar on Advanced Zoning and Land Use in Massachusetts, Worcester, Massachusetts (8/4/2006)
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      "Special Zoning Districts and Provisions in Boston," at Lorman Education Seminar on Advanced Zoning and Land Use in Massachusetts (Boston Focus), Boston, Massachusetts (12/2/2005)

      "New Urbanism, Smart Growth, TOD and Form-Based Coding: Can They Really Work in Massachusetts," at Lorman Education Seminar on Advanced Zoning and Land Use in Massachusetts, co-presented with George Proakis, City of Lowell (8/2005)

      "Anti-Snob Zoning and Smart Growth Overlays: The Yin and Yang of Multifamily Housing Development in Massachusetts," at Lorman Education Seminar on Advanced Zoning and Land Use - Massachusetts (8/2005)

      "The New Chapter 40R: Massachusetts Tries to Encourage Smart Growth through Incentives for Higher Density Residential and Mixed-Use Zoning," at Smart Policies for Smart Design Session at the Congress for New Urbanism - New England Chapter First Annual Conference, Placemaking in New England, co-presented with Sarah Young, deputy director of policy, Massachusetts Department of Housing and Community Development (4/2005)

    • News

      R+C in the News

      • January 31, 2017

        Boston Lawyers Attend Annual John & Abigail Adams Benefit

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      • October 10, 2016

        Matt Lawlor Selected by the Boston Bar Association as “The Most Interesting Lawyer of the Week”

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      • December 18, 2015

        Boston Lawyers Participate in 2015 WomenUp Event

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      • April 17, 2015

        Robinson+Cole Represents National Bank in HUD Rental Assistance Demonstration Conversion Deals with Cambridge Housing Authority

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      • April 6, 2015

        Matt Lawlor Publishes Article for REBA News

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      • December 19, 2014

        Boston Lawyers Address WomenUp Event

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      • August 14, 2014

        Robinson+Cole Lawyers Host Networking Event at 2014 ABA Annual Meeting

      • November 4, 2013

        Boston Lawyers Represent R&C at CHAPA's Annual Dinner

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      • May 15, 2013

        Real Estate Lawyer Chairs MCLE Seminar

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      • September 18, 2012

        Land Use Lawyers Speaking at 2012 Southern New England American Planning Association Conference

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      • November 14, 2011

        Robinson & Cole Client Breaks Ground on New Medical Facility in Boston

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      • May 17, 2011

        Land Use Attorney Teaches the ABCs of Form-Based Codes

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      • October 19, 2010

        Land Law Attorney Delivers Presentation on Form-Based Code Legal Issues at American Planning Association Conference

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      • October 5, 2010

        Attorneys Help Launch Boston Bar Association Real Estate Section Season

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      • June 10, 2010

        Robinson & Cole Land Use Attorneys Host “Smart Growth” Webinar

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      • September 17, 2009

        Robinson & Cole Attorneys Participate in Panel Discussion for Boston Bar Association

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      • October 27, 2008

        Robinson & Cole Land Use Attorney Participates at 2008 Fall Council Meeting of ABA Section

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      • September 5, 2008

        Robinson & Cole Attorney Appointed Co-Chair of BBA's Land Use & Development Committee

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      • May 13, 2008

        Robinson & Cole Attorney Serves as Panel Member and Presenter at Omaha by Design

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      • February 15, 2008

        Robinson & Cole Land Use Attorney's Article Featured in Banker & Tradesman

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      R+C News Releases

      • September 13, 2016

        Robinson+Cole Presents Annual Awards for Dedication and Outstanding Contributions

      • June 11, 2015

        Robinson+Cole Lawyer To Serve as Co-chair of Boston Bar Association Section

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      • December 11, 2013

        Robinson & Cole Elects Four New Partners and Promotes Six Counsel

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