Scott Harshbarger is a Senior Counsel in the Boston office. His practice focuses on strategic counsel and litigation, corporate investigations and defense, corporate and not-for-profit governance and government regulation. Scott’s distinguished career has included major public office, not-for-profit executive management, numerous board directorships and private legal counsel.
Scott’s lengthy record in public service as a public defender, civil rights attorney, district attorney and Massachusetts Attorney General provides him with the experience to offer strategic counsel and legal advice to CEOs, general counsel, trustees, public officials and boards on such matters as fiduciary responsibilities, governmental inquiries and regulation, fraud investigations, compliance, ethics issues and crisis management.
During his two terms as Massachusetts Attorney General (1991–1999), Scott was the first Attorney General in the nation to engage the health care community in developing hospital and HMO benefit guidelines. In leading Massachusetts’ efforts against Big Tobacco, Scott was among the first AGs nationally to recover the costs of health care associated with tobacco use, resulting in payments by the tobacco companies to the Commonwealth totaling $300 million per year over the next 25 years. In private practice, Scott has advised many different health care organizations, interest groups and full hospital systems on their governance practices, internal controls and regulatory matters. His practice encompasses major national entities, as well as smaller not-for-profit groups with local service bases.
During his tenure as AG, Scott was elected President of the National Association of Attorneys General (NAAG). As the leading law enforcement officer of Massachusetts, he led major initiatives against white collar crime, public corruption, insurance and Medicaid fraud, environmental abuses and high-tech crime. Scott built the first Family and Community Crimes Bureau, a department focused on domestic violence, elder and child abuse prosecution and prevention, and his Conflict Resolution/Violence Prevention Project (SCORE) earned a Ford Foundation Excellence in Government Award. Scott received national praise for his Safe Neighborhoods Initiative to reduce urban crime and violence, and sponsored unprecedented Brownfields legislation to help stimulate economic growth in formerly depressed neighborhoods. In conjunction with the Safe Neighborhoods Initiative, Scott was the first AG to use consumer protection and safety regulations to combat handgun availability.
Scott served as President and CEO of Common Cause (1999-2002) in Washington, D.C., the national not-for-profit citizens’ lobby and government watchdog group founded by John Gardner. His term marked a major reform and renewal for the organization and thrust Common Cause into the public interest mainstream. Common Cause led the coalition of national business and public interest advocacy groups, including grassroots organizations. Scott helped organize the push to pass the “McCain-Feingold” campaign finance reform bill in 2002. He also launched Common Cause’s corporate governance project and dramatically expanded the organization’s national agenda to include election reform and executive agency monitoring.
In 1998, the Democratic Party nominated Scott for Governor of Massachusetts and he received 48% of the vote, losing by a narrow margin to an incumbent governor. In 2003, Scott was appointed by Governor Mitt Romney to head the Governor’s Commission on Corrections Reform, following the murder of a defrocked priest. The Reform’s Report received national attention, as did the Report on Public Pension Reform issued by the Blue Ribbon Commission he chaired in 2004. During his tenure as District Attorney of Middlesex County, the largest county in Massachusetts (with a population greater than 13 individual states), Scott received national attention for his initiatives in public protection, juvenile justice, child abuse, law enforcement training, partnerships with schools on drug and alcohol abuse, and violence prevention, receiving the Livingston Hall Award from the American Bar Association. Scott’s public service continues with his chairmanship of Proskauer’s national Pro Bono Initiative and various other positions and memberships in the legal community. In 2011, Scott was honored by the Citizens for Juvenile Justice with its Leadership Award.
Scott taught professional responsibility and legal ethics at Boston University School of Law for 20 years and was a Visiting Professor (government lawyer and public policy) at Harvard Law School for three years. He was a Hadley Distinguished Professor at Northeastern Law School and College of Criminal Justice. Scott also has authored numerous articles on topics in the field of corporate and not-for-profit governance and regulatory strategies. He regularly speaks to state and national business groups, industry associations and legal, business and college audiences. Scott appears often in the national media and routinely appears on New England television as a commentator and news analyst.
Scott’s experience as a strategic, regulatory and crisis counselor/advisor, as well as his corporate and not-for-profit governance, litigation and independent counsel practice, combined with his public, not-for-profit and private advocacy networks and contacts, add value to Proskauer’s diverse and first-class client base in many fields, industries and locations.