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Traps For The Unwary

Traps for the Unwary is reportedly the most popular publication in the history of the Massachusetts Bar Association. The book is a collection of ethical and legal malpractice hazards, mainly for Massachusetts lawyers engaged in civil litigation. It received an award from the American Bar Association for service to the bar.

Traps for the Unwary was conceived and originally written by James E. Harvey, Jr. and first published in 1988. Since then it has been updated and expanded six times. The seventh edition was published in August 2021. Mr. Harvey again served as the editor-in-chief of Traps. John Brosnan served as the assistant editor.  It cites over 800 cases and it is the first new edition since 2011, and contains fifty percent more material. It has benefited from contributions by over 150 lawyers.

For example: Traps for the Unwary includes 50 short statutes of limitations. A typical trap is the six-year statute of repose, G.L.c. 260, sec. 2B, regarding claims arising from improvements to real property. The statute could run and the client’s claim could be barred only one month after the client first meets with the attorney, if the improvement was completed five years and 11 months before that date.

Another trap: If a lawyer attempts to represent both an injured operator and an injured passenger – typically family members or friends – in a motor vehicle accident case, that lawyer could well have a conflict of interest that would bar the lawyer from representing either. The lawyer also runs the risk of breaching the cooperation clause in the operator’s liability insurance policy.

Mr. Harvey and Mr. Brosnan welcome comments and requests lawyers to contact them if they have suggestions for inclusion in the next edition at jharvey@ omalleyharvey .com or jbrosnan@ omalleyharvey .com

To obtain a copy of Traps for the Unwary, please contact the Massachusetts Bar Association.

Massachusetts Bar Association Traps For The Unwary Sixth Edition Revised and Expanded 2011 James E. Harvey, Jr., Esq., Editor

For more information on the newly released Seventh Edition of Traps, please see: https:// soundcloud.com /user-786227478 /traps-for- the-unwary