The focus of my firm is to provide the best legal assistance we can in financial areas to give our clients back "peace of mind". When dealing with a financial crisis it is natural for a client to lose sight of the real goals which are often masked by the "money" issue. The economic matter is the easy half of the needed solution.
I began in private law practice November 1, 2001, having worked as in-house counsel (among other responsibilities) in banking since passing the bar in 1977.
Massachusetts like most other states has a Homestead Law which allows homeowners to protect all or a significant part of their home from creditors. My client had filed the proper paperwork to declare a Homestead but it was as a Trustee of a Real Estate Trust. In his Bankruptcy, this was challenged by the Chapter 7 Trustee as it was "known" that Trusts could not have Homesteads nor could their beneficiaries. Although I was not the attorney involved in filing the documents, I defended my client's right to the protection for his home. The Bankruptcy Court found in our favor and the decision was appealed by the Trustee. On appeal, at the Bankruptcy Appellate Panel for the 1st Circuit Court of Appeals, I was able to convince the panel that my position, as they applied Mass. law, was correct. This was a $250,000 win for my client
As can be seen from the prior example, the "spill-over" from Bankruptcy to Real Estate is common. That said, I have handled hundreds of residential and commercial real estate closings. Perhaps the one which has been the biggest issue was protecting a "family farm" from part of the family by the use of a theory called "Adverse Possession". This concept is simple - if you own land and ignore it, and if I prevent anyone else from using it and continue to use it to your exclusion as well for a period of time, your interest may be forfeited. In my case, all but one of many children deeded their interest in the farm to one of their other siblings. He and his children and grandchildren built up the farm making it a well-known and profitable enterprise. After the death of one of the "missing" relatives his children expressed an interest in "their" farm. Through research and persuasion, I was able to settle the matter amicably for my clients.
I offer a free 45 minute consultation, unless the consultation is the work (for example - review a lease).
Rather than fixed fee work I charge a flat rate for bankruptcy representation based on my estimate of the complexity of the case, and the potential client's ability to pay. All of my work is by mutually agreed upon written contract (written in English, not legalese). If during the course of the case there arises unexpected and time-consuming work, I charge additionally for extra time spent. I do not normally charge separately for postage, mailing, photocopying, scanning etc. Fees typically range from $1,250 to $2,500 for individual (married couple) Chapter 7 excluding filing fees that are paid to the Court. We do accept reasonable payment plans
Here I quote a fixed fee for my legal work; costs of recording with the State or County are always extra. Again, there are extraordinary circumstances that may arise causing an adjustment in the fee.
In Both Areas Of Law, A Nolo Client Is Entitled To A "Real" 10% Discount.
$250 to $325 based on the kind of work and the delivery time. Emergency work tends to be at the higher rates, and normal scheduled work at the lower rate. Remember, I bill based on 1/10th of an hour so if I only spend 20 minutes on something; the bill is for 3/10th of an hour. That is actually the way most attorneys bill by time.
Monday through Friday
9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.
Weekends if necessary - advance scheduling required.
Because of my business and banking background, financial work has always been an interest; from managing money in a family business, to my banking career including managing trust assets and running failed banks.
It is great for clients to become educated about the legal issues they face; just their gaining a sense of the vocabulary of an area of law makes my job easier. But, becoming educated as to the issues does not make a client a lawyer, any more than someone seeking medical advice on a potential problem who reads about possible causes and can describe the symptoms accurately to his/her physician becomes a doctor. That said, there are times when a client will suggest something that I hadn't thought of and it helps the client's case greatly. After all, I haven't "lived" the problem.
Generally speaking, I prefer clients not prepare "legal documents." However, I encourage potential clients to write a description of the issue, and the outcomes the person would like to have in the matter. Sometimes that means a detailed list of items like:
1. $10,000 for ruined property
2. $2,500 for lost wages
3. A no trespass order to keep my neighbor away
If the matter is beyond small claims, I urge people to get competent legal representation. I often refer potential clients to other attorneys who may be able to handle a specific matter on a sliding fee scale, or as all of us do, take the case on a pro-bono basis to keep the "client" from losing some of their rights.
I started my career in banking in 1973 and remained in the banking industry until 1991 when I entered private law practice. During that time, I served as In House Counsel and as a Senior/Executive Vice President for several banks becoming President of Concord Savings Bank, FSB in 1988.
In 1980, I served as In House Counsel and a Senior Director for Aspen Systems Corporation of Rockville, MD, which was a groundbreaker in the field of computerization of litigation files. In 1982, I returned to banking and became Senior Vice President of Provident Bank of Maryland, where I also served as In House Counsel.
During 1986, after the collapse of the Maryland Savings and Loan Industry, I worked for the State of Maryland and with the Federal Savings and Loan Insurance Corporation to salvage failed S & Ls. My work succeeded in resurrecting the S & Ls I managed, and resulted in the determination of why the institutions failed. In 1988, at the request of investors, I formed and opened a new Federal Savings Bank with a major thrust of its business in the area of residential mortgages.
Moving back to New England in 1989 for family reasons, I joined Bank of New England-West and managed its Trust Department (assets exceeded $150 million) and the Loan Workout Department with a classified loan portfolio exceeding $75 million.
Since November of 1991 I have maintained a general practice of law dealing with such matters as bankruptcy, social security disability claims, real estate matters, personal injury, and wills, trusts, and estates. I have offices in Pittsfield and North Adams, Berkshire County, MA.
I grew up in a family business (auto parts and salvage) and learned how to do almost every job there. In fact, I am as comfortable with an acetylene cutting torch as I am with a pen. As I was married while still in college, I worked my way through college and law school which gave me a real appreciation for achievement. Because I have had several different "career" potential jobs, including professional photography, heavy truck (over the road tractor) sales, all phases of banking, and of course law, I have a better view of my clients concerns and employment. Also, and extremely important, I married my wife 41 years ago -she was a student teacher in my high school - we married two years later and are still together.
My style is professional but relaxed. My job is to solve a "people problem" that somehow is meshed with the law. I have been a trouble-shooter since the mid-1970s so I have learned to get to the core of a problem and try to solve it without controversy. I am an excellent negotiator with a great deal of patience.Personal interests:
My interests range from photography, to cars, to reading. I try to do my own auto repairs, and after a long hiatus I am returning to the realm of photography as opposed to snapshots. Also, I read 1-2 novels a week and normally have 3 or 4 books in some state of being read.
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