Focus on an AAAA Fellow

Herb Friedman, Massachusetts


Written by Kurt M. Hughes

With a Ph.D. from MIT and a J.D. from Harvard, Herb Friedman boosts the academic credentials of any organization honored to call him a member. An Academy Fellow since 1990, Herb has been practicing law in Boston for more than 40 years.

Herb was drawn to a legal career because he is a problem-solver. Beginning as an economic analyst in Washington, D.C. and a community organizer in Boston, he moved to Argentina for six months in 1968 doing fieldwork in the squatter settlements in Buenos Aires for his doctoral thesis on community development organizations, while mastering Spanish. Herb’s passion to serve others inspired him to attend law school.

Herb became an early specialist in disability law since his son, adopted from Honduras in 1972, had learning disabilities. Herb’s adoption practice started by chance when the director of a school for language disabled children (some of whom Herb had represented in special education hearings), knowing that he had adopted a learning disabled son, asked him if he could assist her with a possible California adoption. That adopted child is now in his 30's and has three children of his own.

Herb also developed a specialty in sexual abuse law with litigation involving both clergy and therapist abuse. A trial by fire, Herb’s first ART case in the 1980s involved a contested bi-coastal traditional surrogacy in which he successfully teamed up with AAAA/AAARTA Fellow Jane Gorman. For the last five years, Herb has limited his practice to adoption and surrogacy law.

The favorite part of Herb’s practice is sitting down with prospective adoptive parents and explaining the pathways to parenthood and helping them with the legal work necessary to build a family. His greatest accomplishment as a lawyer is having helped adoptive parents adopt children, many of them multiple times, for a total of more than 1,000 adoptions.

The greatest lesson Herb has learned from practicing law is “know the facts, learn the law, be aggressive on behalf of your clients within the bounds of reason, and advocate whenever possible for a resolution that makes the most sense for the affected parties, especially the children involved.” If he had to do it all over again, he would choose this same career.

Herb sings bass in a community chorus. He has married a wonderful person (this time around), and has three great kids. Herb fondly remembers taking two of his kids to the Santa Fe AAAA conference after exploring the Grand Canyon, Painted Desert, and other spectacular scenic views only to be told by one of his kids, “Dad, you don’t know how to line dance.”

Herb started a scholarship fund for high school graduates in his former, now mainly Latino, hometown in Suffolk County, Long Island, New York, in honor of their fabulous former high school math teacher. He is inspired by the notion that he has been privileged to be able to do whatever he has wanted to accomplish, and feels compelled to help others do the same.