Boston Law Firms

Boston Law Firms

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Boston Law Firms

A brief guide to Boston law firms

Whether you are charged with a criminal offense or thinking of undertaking civil litigation to obtain financial compensation for a wrong that has been committed against you, there are many circumstances under which it may be necessary to seek out private legal representation. Boston law firms vary greatly in the number of lawyers on their staff and in the kind of specialized assistance they offer. If you are thinking of retaining the services of an attorney, here are some things to keep in mind.

Components of Boston law firms

Some attorneys work by themselves and are known as “solo practitioners.” However, most lawyers are part of larger firms. There are two types of attorneys in these businesses:

• Partners own part of the business and divide the profits among themselves after paying salaried employees.

• Associates are salaried lawyers who work for a salary.

Whether a partner or associate, Boston law firms generally employ two types of attorneys:

• Transactional lawyers argue cases in the courtroom, presenting the strongest possible case on their client’s behalf.

• Litigation lawyers review paperwork and maintain records. These attorneys practice “preventive litigation,” which is designed to make sure any written agreement you enter into does not expose you to the threat of lawsuits in the future.

Boston law firms can employ hundreds or thousands of workers. Larger companies are likely to employ paralegals, who process and draft paperwork under the close supervision of an attorney. 

Civil and criminal law

There are two kinds of legal issues. Civil lawsuits concern disputes between two private entities, while criminal charges involve the police or a government agency filing a complaint against someone for violating the law. These two different kind of legal problems follow two distinctly different procedures.

When a civil lawsuit is filed, the plaintiff is normally seeking financial compensation of some kind for an injury done against them. These can include:

• A personal injury caused by a defective product or by another person

• An employer violating an employee’s contract by asking them to perform an illegal action, committing sexual harassment or underpaying them

• Business disputes between two companies over a contract whose terms have not been fulfilled

• Real estate disputes between a buyer and seller or a leaser and lessee

If successfully argued, a civil lawsuit will result in some kind of financial award. However, the rules on how to present a case of this kind have federal, state and local components. Some lawsuits must be filed with a local district court, while otherwise can only be heard by a state court. Boston law firms help clients determine what the appropriate arena is for their complaint and what the chances of a successful outcome are. People who are facing litigation are generally not entitled to free legal representation.

Much civil litigation is resolved before reaching the trial stage. Unless you instruct them otherwise, attorneys working for Boston law firms will negotiate with the other party in the suit to attempt to draft a mutually acceptable out-of-court financial settlement before a court date.

Criminal charges can result in a large fine or jail time and are not to be taken lightly. Because of the seriousness of these charges, anyone who is charged with a felony or misdemeanor is entitled to free representation if they cannot afford private legal counsel. Most Boston law firms commit to providing pro bono representation. However, if you are not satisfied with the attorney appointed for you by the court and can afford private legal representation, you may wish to do so.

From the moment you are charged with a criminal offense, you are entitled to legal representation. A solo practitioner or representative of a Boston law firm will advise you during the following steps of the legal process:

• During your arraignment hearing, the prosecution will formally present a list of the charges against you. You may be offered a plea bargain at this time in exchange for a plea of “not guilty” or “no contest.” A lawyer can help you decide whether or not accepting this offer is in your best interests. If bail has been set, a lawyer will argue that it should be lowered.

• During the pretrial process, attorneys working for both sides are regularly required to exchange information and evidence they plan to present in court. This is known as the “discovery” process and may help uncover proof that the case against you was acquired using legal errors that make the case inadmissible.

• In court, a lawyer will present the strongest possible case on your behalf. If you are found guilty, they will appear at your sentencing hearing to argue for a penalty less severe than called for by the prosecution.

Finding a Boston law firm

No professional relationship is to be entered into lightly. Retaining the services of an attorney can be expensive and not always worthwhile. If you decide you need legal help, ask friends, family and business associates to refer you to any Boston law firms they have worked with who specialize in your kinds of legal problems.

Should you schedule an initial meeting, be sure to find out exactly which attorney you will meet with. Look up their disciplinary record online to make sure they are in good legal standing. Do not agree to a consultation with any Boston law firms that are not clear about who you will be talking to or vague about the fee for this meeting.

Arrive prepared to ask any questions you need answered before you decide you have found someone trustworthy to represent you. Many Boston law firms charge by the hour for their services, and additional fees may apply if many paralegals or partners are involved in preparing your case. Be sure to receive a detailed, written estimate of the costs you can expect to be liable for, as well as an outline of how often you will be expected to pay.

 

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