Joseph F. O’Connell, Sr. began his practice of law upon graduation from Harvard Law School in 1897. Local Boston politics during the early twentieth century were dominated by such notables as John F. "Honey Fitz" Fitzgerald, the grandfather of President John Fitzgerald Kennedy, and James Michael Curley.
Active in politics during the same era, Joseph, Sr.’s career took him to Washington DC to serve as a Member of Congress in the US House of Representatives during in the Sixtieth and Sixty-first Congresses, representing the 10th District of Massachusetts from March 1907 to March 1911.
Following his defeat by Curley in November 1910, he returned to the practice of law in Boston with his new bride, the daughter of a fellow Congressman from Pennsylvania. The two raised a large family of eleven, three of whom were in time to follow their father into the practice of law. He continued the practice of law until his death in 1942.
His brother, Daniel T. O'Connell, also practiced with Joe Sr. until Daniel was appointed to the bench of the Massachusetts Superior Court in 1928. Uncle Don, as he was known, also sat as a judge during the war crimes trials in Nuremberg, Germany, following World War II. Click for more on the RuSHA trial.
Another brother, James E. O'Connell, was also a member of the firm during these years.
As mentioned, three siblings in the second generation followed their father and uncles into the practice of law.
Joseph F. O'Connell, Jr. served as a Judge Advocate in World War II in the South Pacific (pictured here in New Zealand in March 1945) and Southwest Pacific theaters. He left active duty later that year and returned to Boston.
Once he had returned home, he continued as a reserve JAG officer rising to the rank of Colonel, and rejoined the firm where he practiced law until his untimely death in 1966. He had two children, both of whom would follow their father into the practice of law.
J.T. Lenahan O'Connell was admitted to the Massachusetts Bar in 1938 and practiced for many decades until his retirement at the end of 2012. He served with the US Army in the Southwest Pacific during World War II as a Judge Advocate officer. He continued his service as a reserve JAG officer, rising to the rank of Lieutenant Colonel at his retirement from the military.
Following World War II, he worked for a time as an Assistant Attorney General in Massachusetts. He then rejoined the firm where he was to practice until his retirement in 2012.
He celebrated his 100th birthday in June 2013, surrounded by his three sons, and his several grandchildren and great-grandchildren. He passed away in January 2014.
Frederick P. O'Connell, the third son in the large family, served as a Lieutenant in the US Navy during World War II. He returned to Boston after military service to practice with the firm for a time before moving to Kennebunk, Maine where he was subsequently admitted to practice as well. After being appointed as Maine's Commissioner for Veterans' Affairs, he relocated his practice to Augusta, and remained there for the remainder of his career. He served for a time as an Assistant Attorney General and later as a permanent Commissioner on Uniform State Laws. He was active in community affairs as well, serving as an active Rotarian, and as Chairman of the Augusta School Committee. He was to continue his general practice of law until his death in 1990.
During their absences to serve in World War II, the practice was maintained by their aunt, attorney Margaret F. Lenahan, a graduate of Trinity College and the University of Pennsylvania Law School.
Joseph F. O'Connell III, the grandson of the firm's founder, was admitted to practice in 1975 in Texas and Massachusetts, and in 1978 in the District of Columbia. After some years working with Fortune 500 corporate clients in the insurance and reinsurance industry, he joined O'Connell & O'Connell in 1997.
Retired as a Colonel after almost thirty-eight years of active and reserve service in the US Army, he was recalled to active service twice during his reserve career, serving as a Judge Advocate General officer specializing in international law in Saudi Arabia in 1990/1 during Operations DESERT SHIELD / DESERT STORM, and then again in 1996 as a Staff Judge Advocate in Germany as part of the implementation of the Dayton Peace Accords that ended fighting in Bosnia-Herzegovina. He continued to serve for a time after retirement as an adjunct lecturer at the Defense Institute of International Legal Studies, where his travels included seminars in West Africa, Central Asia and the Caucasus.
In addition to his law degree, he has also earned post-graduate masters degrees in business administration and strategic studies.