AG-Elect Healey Appoints Experienced Litigators to Key Leadership Positions


AGO’s Barry-Smith is First Assistant, WilmerHale’s Johnston Chief Legal Counsel


BOSTON — Attorney General-Elect Maura Healey today announced the appointments of two veteran lawyers to key leadership positions in her office, naming consumer protection and litigation attorney Chris Barry-Smith as First Assistant Attorney General and noted business litigator and arbitrator Richard Johnston as Chief Legal Counsel.

Barry-Smith and Johnston will form part of the core of Healey’s legal team, helping direct and oversee all civil and criminal bureaus of the office and major cases and initiatives.

“Chris and Rich are first and foremost outstanding lawyers with impeccable judgment who have been exceptional leaders with vast experience to bring to bear for the people of our state,” Healey said.

“The leadership of both Chris and Rich along with the rest of our team will be critical in ensuring that Massachusetts leads the nation in protecting the public interest and standing up for those most in need.”

Barry-Smith will help direct all civil and criminal bureaus of the office. As Chief Legal Counsel, Johnston will help advise Healey on all legal matters in the office, focusing specifically on major and complex litigation and issues.

Having served under the last three Attorney Generals, Barry-Smith has extensive experience as an enforcement attorney, as well as in commercial litigation. He served as Deputy Attorney General and led the Public Protection and Advocacy Bureau, where he directed public interest litigation in antitrust, civil rights, consumer protection, environmental, health care and insurance and financial services. He also served as Chief of the Consumer Protection Division, where he focused on predatory lending enforcement.

Barry-Smith served as lead counsel in the first-in-the-nation case obtaining an injunction restricting a lender’s ability to foreclose on unfair subprime loans. He also led the office’s efforts to obtain a $4.2 million judgment against Cambridge Credit Counseling.  Barry-Smith played a key role in negotiating a $6.7 million Massachusetts settlement and $29 million multistate settlement with Merck-Medco, a pharmacy benefit manager, for false claims and consumer protect violations. He was the state’s lead negotiator for the 2012 National Mortgage Settlement and helped implement the Office’s Home Corps program, which keeps Massachusetts families in their homes.

Prior to joining the Attorney General’s Office, Barry-Smith was a litigator at two Boston law firms and a judicial clerk for U.S. District Court Judge Alfred v. Covello in Hartford, Conn. An Arlington resident, Barry-Smith is a graduate of Harvard University and William & Mary Law School. 

Johnston comes to the role with more than three decades of experience at WilmerHale, where he represented a range of companies in the manufacturing, venture capital, software, Internet and healthcare industries in complex business disputes.

Johnston has also served as co-counsel in a number civil rights cases including representing victims of brain injuries in a class action suit against the state of Massachusetts to obtain community based services and working with the Center for Death Penalty Litigation to secure, through DNA evidence, the 2014 release of a man serving 30 years on death row in North Carolina. . He worked with Attorneys Generals in Massachusetts and Texas to successfully defend their interests on Lawyer Trust Account programs, which fund legal services for the poor, against constitutional challenges. Johnston also played a key role in negotiating agreements with the Government of Sierra Leone for the establishment of economic zones to help create manufacturing jobs in the country.

Johnston served as a faculty member of Harvard Law School’s Trial Advocacy Program for approximately 15 years and is currently a clinical fellow at the law school’s Center for Health Law and Policy Innovation.    Johnston is a graduate of Cornell University and Harvard Law School. Prior to working for Wilmer Hale, Johnston was a judicial clerk for Judge Edmund V. Keville in the Massachusetts Appeals Court.  




Return to News