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Massachusetts Law About Lawyers


Bar Exam Information, Board of Bar Examiners.

Applying for Admission on Motion, Board of Bar Examiners.

Mitchell v. Board of Bar Examiners, 452 Mass. 582 (2008). A graduate of a wholly-online law school (which was thus unqualified for ABA accreditation) could sit for the Massachusetts bar exam.

Rules Pertaining to Bar Admission: SJC Rule 3:01, and BBE Rules, Board of Bar Examiners.

Practice of Law

MGL c.221, s.46A-46C. Authorized and unauthorized practice of law

Massachusetts Rules of Professional Conduct, Board of Bar Overseers. Rules governing the practice of law in Massachusetts.

Practicing with Professionalism Course for New Lawyers, SJC Rule 3:16, Requires all newly-admitted lawyers to complete a day-long program on professionalism. See also: Practicing with Professionalism Course Calendar.

Board of Bar Overseers. "The Board of Bar Overseers was established by the Supreme Judicial Court in 1974 as an independent administrative body to investigate and evaluate complaints against lawyers." They have over eighty articles on their site about ethical issues for lawyers. This is the place to start research on an ethical issue. Articles include:

DOI Bulletin 2007-15: Written Notice to Claimants of Payment of Claims in Third Party Settlements. Insurance companies are directed to notify clients when payment of settlement of $5000 or more has been made to the client's attorney.

E-Mail and Attorney-Client Confidentiality, Mass. Bar Association Ethics Opinion 00-01. "A lawyer's use of unencrypted Internet e-mail to engage in confidential communications with his or her client does not violate Massachusetts Rule of Professional Conduct 1.6(a) in usual circumstances. Legal and technical hurdles to the interception of Internet e-mail give rise to a reasonable expectation on the part of lawyer and client that such communications will remain private. The lawyer must be careful, however, to ensure that confidential messages are not sent to e-mail addresses that are reasonably accessible to persons other than the client, and to avoid using unencrypted Internet e-mail in contravention of the client's express instructions."

Featured Practice Tips from the Superior Court Bench, MCLE. A "series of short video briefings offering practical and sage advice from more than forty active and alumni members of the Massachusetts Superior Court."

In the Matter of Bott, 462 Mass. 430 (2012). "Although mediation does not in all circumstances constitute the practice of law, an attorney who has resigned from the practice of law while the subject of disciplinary investigation ... or who has been disbarred or suspended from the practice of law... may be prohibited from serving as a mediator when to do so would be perceived by the public as an extension of the attorney's practice of law, or when the conduct of the mediation is so closely related to the practice of law as to constitute legal work within the meaning of S.J.C. Rule 4:01, § 17 (7)"

Mass. Bar Association Committee on Professional Ethics Opinions. Opinions published since 1973.

Massachusetts IOLTA. Includes information and guidelines for both attorneys and financial institutions.

Metadata: What is it, and what are my ethical duties?,, 2009. Metadata is the information you don't see when you open a document, but is retained and can be viewed. Includes previous versions, comments, authors and more. This article discusses the dangers of metadata in digital files, the ethical responsibilities for attorneys both in their own documents and in viewing documents sent by others, and how to avoid metadata issues.

Real Estate Bar Association of Massachusetts v. National Real Estate Information Services, 459 Mass. 512 (2011). The "closing or settlement of real property conveyances requires not only the presence but the substantive participation of an attorney on behalf of the mortgage lender, and that certain services connected with real property conveyances constituted the practice of law in Massachusetts." Outlines what constitutes unauthorized practice of law in real estate transactions.

Limited Assistance Representation

Limited Assistance Representation, Mass. Court System. Massachusetts courts may allow attorneys to assist self-represented litigants with selected documents or appearances without taking on full representation. Includes links to information for each court department.

Print Sources

Building Your Practice with Limited Assistance Representation, MCLE, 2009.

Choosing, Hiring and Working with a Lawyer

Find a Lawyer in Massachusetts, Mass. Court System. Includes links to information on choosing a lawyer, lawyer referral, legal aid, and limited assistance representation sources.

Complaints and Attorney Discipline

Bar Discipline: SJC Rule 4:01. Rules governing attorney discipline.

Clients' Security Board of the Supreme Judicial Court. "Board members manage and distribute the monies in the Fund to members of the public who have sustained a financial loss caused by the dishonest conduct of a member of the bar acting as an attorney or a fiduciary." Site includes information on filing a claim, including forms, as well as their rules and annual report.

Ellis v. Dept. of Industrial Accidents, 463 Mass. 541 (2012). "G. L. c. 152, § 7C, which authorizes the senior judge of the Department of Industrial Accidents (department) to discipline an attorney by permanently or temporarily suspending the attorney's right to practice before the department, violates art. 30 of the Massachusetts Declaration of Rights, in that the statute infringes on a core judicial function, i.e., the power to admit and remove officers of the court, and to regulate their professional conduct."

How to File A Complaint, Board of Bar Overseers. Explains the process in pursuing an ethical complaint against an attorney regarding professional conduct. They also attempt assist in resolving attorney-client disputes.

Legal Fee Arbitration Board, Mass. Bar Association. The Massachusetts Bar Association Legal Fee Arbitration Board (FAB) is organized primarily to help resolve legal fee disputes between attorneys and between attorneys and their clients.


Forms Relating to Attorneys