Stephen J. MacGillivray

For more than 20 years, Steve MacGillivray has been handling property tax abatement actions for large hotel chains, owners of large commercial properties, and high-end residential property owners. His extensive knowledge of the rules and processes governing real estate appraisals allows him to provide maximum value to firm clients.

Steve has more than 20 years of experience advising companies, high net worth individuals, and organizations of all sizes in matters related to complex litigation as well as real property disputes including zoning and land use, title, easement and access, condominium disputes, adverse possession and prescriptive rights, commercial leases and claims based on trespass, nuisance, and other property-related torts.

He has successfully assisted developers in the appeal of denials of zoning, wetlands, or environmental permitting, and has represented municipalities on issues such as ordinances related to renewable energy projects.  Appearing before state and federal courts and the American Arbitration Association, Steve has represented clients in national litigation in several states including Rhode Island, Massachusetts, New York, Connecticut and Texas. Steve has lectured and written extensively on property tax abatement legal issues and strategies, and has been a member of the Middletown (RI) Zoning Board for more than ten years. 

Honors & Distinctions
  • Recognized by Chambers USA for Commercial Litigation (2021-present)
Professional Activities
  • American Bar Association
  • Massachusetts Bar Association
  • New York State Bar Association
  • Rhode Island Bar Association
    • Chair, Committee on Alternative Dispute Resolution
  • The Benefits of Mediating Real Property Disputes, Rhode Island Bar Journal (May/June 2022)
  • Federal Rules of Civil Procedure Amendments on the Horizon,  Rhode Island Bar Journal (May/June 2014)
Civic Activities
  • Steve's community involvement is often connected to his love for yacht racing and the water.  He is president of the Brown University Sailing Alumni Association and is an active participant in fundraising for the Brown Sports Foundation. He is on the Board of Directors of the Aquidneck Island Land Trust and a former chairman, and he is a former board member and legal committee chair of Save the Bay.
  • Steve sits on the Board of Trustees for the Saint Philomena School and is a member of the Middletown (RI) Zoning Board.


Practice Areas

Representative Experience
  • In United States District Court, received a jury verdict in a toxic tort action for a large West Coast chemical manufacturer.
  • In Massachusetts Superior Court, defeated attempts by an international software giant to enforce a non-compete agreement against a technology company
  • Secured numerous dismissals and favorable judgments over the past five years on behalf of national asbestos manufacturers, and continues to represent asbestos and silica manufacturers in Rhode Island and throughout the country
  • Secured a favorable judgment in a partition action on behalf of a large foundation dedicated to the preservation of genetic material from endangered domestic livestock.
  • Represented a group of international banks in a large mechanic's lien case involving the construction of a power plant in Tiverton, Rhode Island.
Representative Experience
  • Successfully appealed illegal tax classification of manufacturing plan assessed as non-manufacturing
  • Evaluated and prosecuted tax appeal for high-end homes in southern Rhode Island
  • Prosecuted several appeals resulting in major reduction in hotel/marina complex tax assessment
  • Obtained farm, forest and open space exemption for large foundation property
  • Settled a multiyear property tax abatement case that resulted in a tax reduction of $10 million to a national hotel chain