Longtime Valley lawyer Mikal Weiss heads west

  • Mikal Weiss at the courthouse in Northampton. —GAZETTE STAFF/CAROL LOLLIS

  • Mikal Weiss at the courthouse in Northampton. —GAZETTE STAFF/CAROL LOLLIS

  • Mikal Weiss sits in his empty office. The Northampton lawyer is moving to Hawaii at the end of June after practicing law in the Pioneer Valley for the last 35 years. GAZETTE STAFF/CAROL LOLLIS

Published: 6/25/2017 11:14:31 PM

NORTHAMPTON — Mikal Weiss is selling his snowblower; he won’t need it where he’s going. No, he’s not dying — though some would say he’s going to paradise.

Weiss — a longtime Northampton resident, community fixture, practicing lawyer and adjunct professor at the University of Massachusetts’ Isenberg School of Management — is packing up and moving to Hawaii at the end of the month.

Why is he moving? His answer is simple and unequivocal: “I love my wife more than my job.”

Weiss’ spouse and partner of over 30 years, Welli Weiss, has been hired as a forensic psychologist by the state of Hawaii, a dream position for her in an equally dreamy locale.

She moved to Hawaii earlier this year to begin her job, and the couple has bridged the 5,000 miles and 6-hour time difference through frequent phone calls and weekly video chat sessions.

“I didn’t want to inflict my dream on the rest of my family,” Welli Weiss said. But she also said she had fantasized about moving to Hawaii since moving to the Pioneer Valley for grad school in the mid-1980s, after experiencing her first New England winter.

She said she told so many people about her dream that she began to wonder, “Am I going to be one of those people who talks about things and never does it?”

Mikal Weiss moved to Springfield in 1979 to attend the Western New England School of Law in Springfield and fell in love with the Valley’s culture, close-knit community and natural beauty.

“Once I discovered Western Mass, I stayed,” he said.

After graduation, he began a 34-year-long law career based in Northampton. Friends say his honesty, integrity and work ethic has stood out over the years.

“To fall back on an old Yiddish word, Mikal is a mensch,” said Weiss’ law partner and friend, David Mintz. “He is uniformly respected by his fellow attorneys as well as the community at large, not only for his intelligence and legal ability, but also for his integrity, loyalty, humility and compassion.”

Another former law partner, David Bloomberg, said that the city won’t feel the same without Weiss. Their children grew up together and Bloomberg has fond memories of the two men kvelling about their growing families after work.

When their third law partner, Meade Burrows, died unexpectedly of a heart attack in 2010, Bloomberg said it was Weiss’ strength of character that helped him pull through. “I don’t know how I could have gotten through this experience without Mikal,” Bloomberg said.

Although he will miss his dear friend, Bloomberg is excited for Weiss.

“He’s off on a tremendous adventure, so we shouldn’t feel too sorry for ourselves that he’s leaving,” said Bloomberg.

For Weiss, too, the move brings mixed happiness and sadness.

“Leaving western Mass, for me, will be with tremendous sadness, but a lot of excitement for this new adventure,” said Weiss, looking out the window of his Main Street law firm, Burrows & Weiss. But he added that he’s “looking forward to a brand new adventure in the last state.”

With a flight booked for June 30, Weiss will join Welli on the island of Oahu in the city of Kailua — an island municipality about the same size as Northampton.

Weiss said he looks forward to exploring the lush island. “It’ll be a little bit of paradise,” he said.

In the meantime, he’s packing up his Northampton home and saying goodbye to friends and colleagues — and notes that Hampshire country hasn’t seen the last of him.

“One way or another, I’ll come back to the Valley, whether to visit or to live,” Weiss said.

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