Kathleen M. O'Donnell Esq.

Kathleen M. O'Donnell Esq.

Milton, Massachusetts

Kathleen M. O'Donnell is a real estate attorney specializing in many things, including Smart Growth Zoning, leasing contracts, Title research and creating a purchase and sale agreement that both parties can agree upon. She began her legal career with Lawyers Title Insurance Corporation as a title attorney. In New England, title insurance policies were underwritten by title attorneys employed by the companies, not title agents. Over five years, she looked at titles for everything from ground leases for Copley Place to wood lots in northern Maine. She then moved into private practice providing title expertise to commercial loan transactions and began her representation of buyers and sellers of residential real estate. In 1997, she joined Kopelman and Paige and expanded her knowledge base to include the particular requirements for purchases and sales of municipal real estate, particularly through the use of community preservation act funds. In 2000, Ms. O'Donnell took over the management of the firm's tax title practice and worked with towns on the foreclosure of tax liens and the sale of tax title properties by auction.

A strong believer in continuing education, Ms. O'Donnell is the editor of two MCLE publications, Handling Residential Real Estate in Massachusetts and the Real Estate Sourcebook and Citator. She is a frequent lecturer on real estate issues, particularly municipal affordable housing trusts, tax title foreclosures, and smart growth zoning.

She is a graduate of Boston College (A.B. magna cum laude) and the University of Miami School of Law (specialty - Ocean and Coastal Law). She spent her junior year studying archaeology and history at the University of Durham in the north of England.

Kathleen M. O'Donnell, Esq. is certified by the Commonwealth of Massachusetts Supplier Diversity Office as a Woman-Owned Business Enterprise (WBE).

When not practicing law as real estate attorney handling everything from a house lease agreement to Smart Growth Zoning to leasing contracts, Ms. O'Donnell sings alto with the Dedham Choral Society and is a back-up singer in an all-lawyer benefit rock band called White Collar Crime. She is Treasurer of the Cohasset Yacht Club where she moors her Bullseye. She is a member of REBA, The Abstract Club, NEWIRE, the Larchmont Yacht Club, and a life member of the Boston Athenaeum

Over thirty years experience in real estate law including conveyancing, title opinions, tax title foreclosures and auctions, affordable housing, open space acquisitions, municipal harbor plans and smart growth zoning. Licensed to practice in Massachusetts. Certified as a WBE by the Massachusetts Supplier Diversity Office (formerly known as SOMWBA).

                                                            Key Accomplishments

  • Member of Governor Romney's Task Force on Chapter 40B addressing the concerns raised by municipalities with respect to the creation of affordable housing, leading to the passage of legislation authorizing the creation of municipal affordable housing trusts (M.G.L. c. 44 Section 55C) to provide cities and towns with a more flexible mechanism to create and preserve affordable housing.
  • Served on advisory committee on legislation to create smart growth zoning (M.G.L. c.40R) and served on the committee that provided assistance to the Department of Housing and Community Development in developing the regulations under this Chapter.
  • Assisted in the creation of seven Chapter 40R Smart Growth Zoning Overlay Districts.
  • Represented non-profit developers in sales of affordable housing units in the City of Boston.
  • Managed tax title foreclosures through the Land Court, foreclosures of land of low value, auctions of tax title properties and sales of tax title properties for affordable housing purposes.
  • Assisted municipalities in the purchase of properties for open space and the protection of open space through conservation restrictions under the Community Preservation Act and Cape Cod Land Bank.
  • Expert witness on title and conveyancing issues including exercise of right of first refusal under c. 61A, beach rights, and adverse possession.

Areas of Practice

  • Land Use & Zoning
  • Real Estate Law
  • State, Local & Municipal Law

Bar Admissions

  • Massachusetts, 1978


  • University of Miami School of Law, Coral Gables, Florida
    • J.D. - 1977
    • Major: Ocean and Coastal Law
  • Boston College, Chestnut Hill, Massachusetts
    • A.B. magna cum laude - 1974
    • Honors: Member, Council for Women of Boston College
  • University of Durham, United Kingdom - 1973

Published Works

  • Editor, Massachusetts Real Estate Law Sourcebook & Citator, MCLE, 2007
  • Editor, Handling Residential Real Estate Transactions in Massachusetts, MCLE, 1996
  • Real Estate Title Practice in Massachusetts, (Contributing Author), MCLE, 2010
  • Examining and Evaluating Title to Real Property in Massachusetts, (Contributing Author), PESI, 2003

Representative Clients

  • Carlisle Affordable Housing Trust Fund
  • Citizens Bank - Closing Attorney
  • Massachusetts Housing Partnership
  • Purchasers of Condominium Units in City of Boston
  • Town of Wareham - Treasurer
  • Town of Westport Municipal Affordable Housing Trust Fund
  • Nantucket Affordable Housing Trust Fund
  • Wareham Community Preservation Commitee
  • 51 Whitten Street Condominium Trust
  • Town of Bourne Affordable Housing Trust Fund
  • Carver Redevelopment Authority
  • Town of Lincoln Affordable Housing Trust
  • Wareham Community Preservation Committee
  • Westport Affordable Housing Trust Fund


  • Municipal Affordable Housing Trusts, Massachusetts Housing Partnership, 2009 - 2012
  • Real Estate Issues for Boomers and Seniors, MCLE, 2007 - 2010
  • The A-Z's of Real Property Issues, Elder Law Institute, Center for Advanced Legal Studies, Suffolk University Law School, 2007
  • Growing Smart by Working with 40R, Center for Advanced Legal Studies, Suffolk University Law School, 2005
  • Complex Title Issues, MCLE, 1986 - Present
  • Introduction to Tax Titles, Boston Bar Association, 2009
  • Recent Changes in Conflict of Interest Law for Real Estate Practitioners, MCLE & REBA, 2010
  • What Title Insurance Can, and Cannot, Do, MCLE, 2010
  • Nightmare Closings and How to Survive Them, MCLE, 2010
  • Short Sales and Foreclosures, MCLE, 2010
  • Article 97 and Special Legislation, BBA, 2012

Honors and Awards

  • APA Mass Chapter Award for 2010 Outstanding Planning Award/Planning Project

Professional Associations and Memberships

  • Real Estate Bar Association for Massachusetts (REBA), President, 2001
  • Massachusetts Bar Association, Property Law Section, Chair
  • Boston Bar Association, Member
  • City Solicitors, Member
  • Town Counsel Association, Member
  • Boston Bar Association, Real Estate Section, Co-Chair, 2012 - 2014
  • Boston Bar Association, Title and Conveyancing Committee, Co-chair, 2010 - 2012
  • Community Preservation Coalition, Steering Committee
  • Massachusetts Land Trust Coalition, Board of Directors, 2012 - Present
  • Real Estate Bar Association for Massachusetts (REBA), Board of Directors, 1993 - 2003
  • Real Estate Bar Association for Massachusetts (REBA), Continuing Education Committee, 2004 - Present
  • Dedham Choral Society, President, 2005 - 2008
  • Dedham Choral Society, Board of Directors, 2000 - Present
  • Cohasset Land Foundation, Board of Directors, 2011 - Present

Past Employment Positions

  • Lawyers Title Insurance Corporation, Boston, MA, Title Attorney, 1979 - 1982
  • Lawyers Title Insurance Corporation, Boston, MA, Senior Title Attorney, 1982 - 1985
  • Real Estate Law, Boston University Metropolitan College, Boston, MA, Adjunct Professor, 1988 - 1997
  • Kopelman and Paige, P.C., Associate, 1997 - 2010
  • Dillingham & O'Donnell, Partner, 1992 - 1997
  • Boston University Metropolitan College, Adjunct Professor, 1988 - 1997
  • Ropes & Gray, Associate, 1987 - 1992
  • DiCara, Selig, Sawyer & Holt, Associate, 1986 - 1987
  • Hay & Dailey, Associate, 1985 - 1986
  • Lawyers Title Insurance Corporation, Senior Title Attorney, 1979 - 1985

Pro Bono Activities

  • Treasurer, Cohasset Yacht Club, 2009 - 2011
  • Member, REBA
  • Member,The Abstract Club – Executive Committee, 2010 - Present
  • Member, NEWIRE
  • Member, Larchmont Yacht Club
  • Life Member, Boston Athenaeum
  • Secretary, Cohasset Yacht Club, 2011 - 2013
  • Council for Women of Boston College