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General Law Practice Attorneys in Massachusetts:

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Need to Find an Attorney in MA?  Here are some Tips for Selecting a Lawyer

I once saw a cartoon in a magazine showing two men standing at a party, drinks in hand, looking at a third man on the other side of the room.  The punch line read: “Yes, Jim, I KNOW he’s a rabid, unpleasant, pit-bull of a lawyer, but he’s MY rabid, unpleasant, pit-bull of a lawyer.

Often, the best humor exposes a painful truth.  When we find ourselves in need of an attorney, all of us want to find one we can trust, a person who will do good work, fight hard for us, and protect our rights.  Think about this woefully incomplete list of  life events that create the need for legal representation:  buying or selling a home, making a will, adopting a child, if you’ve been in an accident, been the victim of abuse or are going through divorce, or been accused of a crime.

When the time comes, here are my two general bits of advice:  (1) Understand that not all lawyers are the same.  There are huge differences in intelligence, diligence, experience and personality.  (2) Don’t be afraid to ask questions and hurt feelings.  Lawyers understand that attorney-client relationships are most successful when all parties enter willingly and with their eyes open.

Now for the specifics.  Most experts recommend the following steps when seeking an attorney or a law firm:

• Figure out what type of lawyer you need.  I know, it sounds silly, but, in your initial research, look for an attorney who claims to have the type of experience you need (e.g., personal injury law, business creation, taxation, estate planning, etc.)

• Ask people you know and trust if they can recommend an attorney.

• Meet or talk to your possible choices and ask them; (1) about their experience with your type of legal issue, (2) how often they will update you on the case or legal issue and by what means (e.g., letter, email, etc.), (3) their hourly rate and estimate of the total cost to deal with your matter, (4) how they intend to handle the matter and what you will need to do to assist them, (5) for references from people they have worked for, and (6) whether they have malpractice insurance (a good thing).

• After each attorney interview, check your gut:  How did he or she make you feel?   Did he address your questions with honesty and patience? Remember, he will be on his best behavior during this first meeting, so if he does not impress, move on.

• Finally, make sure any attorneys you are considering have not been disciplined or sanctioned.  Go to web site for the Massachusetts Board of Bar Overseers ( and click on "Look up Lawyers Address and Status."

Good luck.

The Editor