From Lawyer to Pizzeria Owner and Lawyer

Shannon Liss-Riordan has neveshannon2r been one for convention.  When I met her as a student at Harvard Law School, she was dedicated to having a public interest career, a rarity among our classmates.  Sixteen years later, she is one of the state’s most feared class action litigators, representing hourly wage workers – including the employees of the Upper Crust pizzeria chain.  Shannon sued Upper Crust on their behalf in 2010.

Last month, Upper Crust went bankrupt in the wake of that lawsuit and several related scandals involving the recruitment and underpayment of illegal immigrants.  This week, Shannon bought the Harvard Square location of Upper Crust.

She and another investor are restructuring the restaurant so that all of the employees have ownership shares.  There is talk that she will change the name of the restaurant from Upper Crust to The Just Crust.  She hopes that the location, which closed last month, will reopen in a few months.  In the meantime, Shannon is preparing for trial in the employees’ class action suit, which is scheduled for next summer.

I have admired Shannon’s chutzpah for years.  The way she put her talents to use defending some of the most voiceless among us represents the best part of the legal system.  And now, with her decision to buy the Upper Crust in Harvard Square, she defies convention again.  I have no idea what she’ll do next, which is one of the reasons she is such a great role model for other lawyers.

Hat tip: Eater Boston

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