I began my career at a big law firm in downtown Boston. However, almost immediately I realized that the typically cold and transactional “billable-hour” structure just wasn’t for me.
For one, at more than $400/hour my clients wanted me to do everything as quickly as possible with as little communication as possible. Clients were actually afraid to call because they didn’t know how much that call would cost them and whether it was worth it. Not a good way to build a solid relationship with someone.
When clients would come in, they’d quickly sign their documents (most often not having a clear sense of what they were signing), take them home, stick them in a drawer, and not look at them again. That’s just what the typical estate planning experience has become. There was nothing abnormal about it, but it didn’t feel right to me.
And I know from personal experience just how important family estate planning is and the consequences of failing to plan. Prior to law school, I saw my grandmother decline in health until there was no alternative but nursing home care. Since no asset-protection planning had occurred, her assets were eaten away by long-term care costs until there was almost nothing left. Even so, because she didn’t do any estate planning, my family still ended up having to deal with the probate court for years after her death, trying to settle disputes over long-forgotten assets.
I wanted to do something different that would be more meaningful both for my clients and myself, so I decided that I would open my own law firm which I did in 2011. I opened this firm with the idea of bringing back personal relationships to estate planning and elder law—where planning is just the beginning of the relationship. So here are some of the things we do differently based on my experience with the traditional model of estate planning.
First of all – Nothing we do is billed on an hourly basis. Everything we do is billed flat fee, agreed to in advance, so there are no surprises. Our clients really like it and we do too. It doesn’t feel good to keep track of time in 6-minute increments.
Second – We take the time to get to know our clients personally. We listen to your concerns and goals and design an approach to meet your specific needs. We take the time to explain your options in an easy-to-understand way, and welcome your questions before, during, and after our project is complete.
Third – We see planning as just the beginning of the relationship, whereas in the past the plan was viewed as a one-time transactional event. Once you sign your planning documents, that’s when the relationship really begins. We assist in funding your trust, offer membership programs and, at no additional charge, we review your plan at least every three years.
Our firm is the best fit for people who want the peace of mind of knowing their family will be taken care of when something happens to them—that we’ll be here for their family throughout their lifetime and then afterwards.
On a personal note, I received my Juris Doctorate from Boston College School of Law, where I was co-chair of the Community Economic Development Group. I have a bachelor’s degree in journalism from Hofstra University, where I graduated cum laude with Phi Beta Kappa distinction. I’m licensed to practice in both the Commonwealth of Massachusetts and the Federal District Court of Massachusetts, and am also a licensed Massachusetts Real Estate Broker and Notary Public. I’m a lifelong Massachusetts native, having grown up on the North Shore and now reside in Newburyport with my wife Annette (also an attorney) and our daughter Eloise.