When dealing with a legal issue in Massachusetts, a Massachusetts attorney will be the best option to a satisfactory legal outcome. Every state in the United States has its own set of unique laws that interact with local laws to create a complex web of enforcement and punishment. As such, the Massachusetts attorney will be able to interpret the General Laws of Massachusetts and combine that with his or her extensive knowledge of the legal system litigate successfully on your behalf or mount a competent defense, depending on the criminal or civil matter.
Why would I need a Massachusetts attorney?
You may wonder why you need a Massachusetts attorney over an attorney from another state. Massachusetts attorneys, by virtue of years of experience practicing law in the state, will have the best knowledge of the system and ways that they may be able to help you if you ever unintentionally violate Massachusetts law or plan to sue a party in Massachusetts. Lawyers that are experienced at practicing within a specific jurisdiction will not only have experience working with other legal professionals but will have generally cultivated professional relationships with these individuals. This relationship can foster cooperation during a settlement, provide the Massachusetts attorney with privileged information when appealing to his or her professional peers and even help to foster a plea bargain if the Massachusetts attorney and prosecutor have an excellent working relationship.
What are organizations of Massachusetts attorneys?
The Massachusetts Bar Association is the primary associations for Massachusetts attorneys, although membership is not mandatory. This enables many Massachusetts attorneys to join their local bar association. Still, many Massachusetts attorneys will join the MBA or hold multiple memberships, at their discretion for the professional networking and other benefits. Additionally, there are a number of benefits and discounts available to Bar Association members.
Among the publications of the MBA, there is the Massachusetts Law Review and Massachusetts Lawyers Weekly. The Massachusetts Lawyers Weekly is a newspaper that reports on state and federal decisions as well as changes to legal processes, laws and court rules. There is also a job section that is among the best at connecting applicants to careers in the legal professional field.
The MBA also maintains a comprehensive directory of its members for the purposes of connecting member lawyers with clients. Among services available to Massachusetts attorneys are fee arbitration, ethical advice and mentoring for newer legal professionals. Lastly, the MBA maintains a lawyer referral service that screens and connects clients to participating Massachusetts attorneys.
In addition to the MBA, there is the Boston Bar Association that offers a number of similar services in a more focused area. This includes continuing legal education classes, twenty-five practice sections and professional networking. The BBA also has a lawyer referral service and can provide lawyer referral services in the span of one business day. The Boston Bar Foundation is the charitable arm of the BBA and works to inform the public about the law and work for underprivileged clients that would otherwise not have access to legal services.
How do I know my Massachusetts attorney is legitimate?
Bar association membership is a great indicator that the lawyer has been vetted and is a trusted legal professional. Bar associations will maintain certain standards for membership that include standards of professional and ethical responsibility, in addition to other important obligations.
If the attorney does not have admission to the state bar, you should examine his or her credentials. Ensure that the law degree is from an accredited law school and that there is evidence of admission to the bar. If the lawyer does not produce these things, then this is likely not an individual that should be dispensing legal advice.
You should be able to make determinations based on subjective factors as well. Ensure that your lawyer communicated well with you and you are able to express you concerns and ask questions about the legal service you will be receiving. Since you will often be paying significant costs or exercising your precious right to litigation, it is important that your case be handled with care and professionalism. If the Massachusetts attorney does not display professional demeanor and is constantly bickering and denigrating his or her fellow attorneys, you should consider how this might affect your case.
What are the typical rates of a Massachusetts attorney?
There will be many fees associated with legal services, some minor, such as court fees and document preparation fees and some that encompass the entire service, such as a retainer fee. Always have the fees given to you in writing so you understand what you will be potentially billed for the service.
You can expect your Massachusetts attorney to work on contingency for accident cases, variable fees for complicated cases and flat fees for providing legal services, such as writing documents. Contingency fees are sometimes regulated by law and Massachusetts is no exception. Contingency fees are limited in the following manner:
- Not exceeding 40% of first $150,000
- 33.33% of next $150,000
- 30% of next $200,000
- 25% of any award over $500,000.
Remember that laws such as these tend to change especially with newer tort reform movements gaining traction and working to limit the damages that may be collected by a plaintiff and attorney fees to be collected by the attorney for services rendered.
Hourly billing is the preferred means by which lawyers are paid for non-contingency cases. Some lawyers may have alternate pay plans or different arrangements to pay fees, so it is best to check with the lawyer during the consultation for alternate fee arrangements. Be aware of hidden fees or fees for using ancillary services and personnel, such as the service of a paralegal.
The client must use caution when using retainer arrangements as the lawyer, under the traditional form of the arrangement can deduct as he needs from the retainer and request that the client replenish is as needed. This can be combined with another fee in a “blended fee arrangement” where needy clients can pay a small retainer in exchange for contingency arrangements or extended payment plans.
What are questions to ask Massachusetts attorneys?
How does my case relate to Massachusetts laws?
Are local laws in effect for this case?
What are your fees and do you have alternate payment plans?
Are you a member, in good standing, of the Massachusetts Bar Association?
What roles do you play as a member?
Can I please have all fees in writing?
Can we work out an alternate arrangement that suits my economic needs?
What are my chances of winning a settlement or at trial?