Frequently Asked Questions

Note: This web site is considered a form of “advertising.” It is designed to provide general information for clients, potential clients, and friends of the firm and should not be construed as legal advice or legal opinion on any specific facts or circumstances. The information presented on this site should not be construed to be formal legal advice about your situation or case and does not create any lawyer-client relationship. Contacting us and allowing us the privilege of reviewing your situation and concerns with you is still the first step for you to obtain either advice, referral elsewhere or for us to become your lawyers.

– John Reilly’s Interview with Vestnik Magazine of Rhode Island –

Q. Do I need a lawyer?
If you are asking yourself this question you should call us to discuss whatever has caused you to have this question. Our lawyers are professionals who have been trained and have experience in analyzing facts and the law necessary to get the best possible results for those who need a lawyer and become our clients. Not everyone who calls needs a lawyer and in many instances we refer callers to public agencies or other professionals who many be helpful in addressing their concerns. For those who may need the services of a lawyer we generally offer an initial consultation without cost or obligation. Our lawyers can advise you of your legal needs, rights, possible courses of action and/or alternatives, as well as the risks and consequences of acting or not taking action. Therefore, we encourage you to call and discuss your situation and concerns.

Q. I am unhappy with our current lawyer. Can you help?
As consumers of legal services, clients are usually entitled to “change lawyers” whenever they wish. In trying to arrive at this decision things you should consider include how important the matter is to you, what could happen if you win or lose, and the communication you have had with your current lawyer about the handling of the matter. Among the things that we consider in determining whether we are willing and able to help clients who want to change lawyers are whether there is still time to really help you and, if so, how to structure an arrangement for your representation that will be fair to you and our firm under all the circumstances. There is an old saying that “once the toothpaste is out of the tube it’s difficult to get it back inside” and the more time that passes the more difficult it will be for us or any lawyer to “take over” your case or representation. So if you are considering making a change call immediately so that we may discuss these important decisions.

Q. Can you represent me in Massachusetts?
YES! If you review our Cases and News you will find that we have successfully represented many clients in Massachusetts since 1985. In fact, we have also handled several matters in Connecticut and New Hampshire – a true “New England Solution” for your legal needs.

Q. Can you guarantee me a result?
Unfortunately, “guarantees” about the outcome of a particular matter or case when we first meet are impossible in our American system of law. We can, however, advise you about the existing laws, whether and how they have been interpreted by courts, the things (witnesses, evidence, records) that will be needed to give you the best possible result, the alternatives available to you, and the potential risks of each choice. That being said, we will make every possible effort to achieve the best possible result for you in hopes that you, your family and friends will join the many, many satisfied past clients who have repeatedly returned to us over the years.

Q. How long will it take for my insurance settlement check to clear the bank?
Former (and well respected) Rhode Island Judge Alton Wiley was fond of recounting a story that was painful for him to retell but helpful to any lawyers who listened. He had settled an automobile accident case for a client and when the check arrived the client asked for the client’s share “right away” because the client was leaving on vacation the next day. Feeling that he had an insurance check that would clear the bank quickly he gave his client a check and the client went on vacation, spending most of the money in the process. Unfortunately, a few days after depositing the check, Wiley’s bank advised him that it had “bounced” because the insurance company had gone into receivership the same day the check was deposited. It took about 2 years to get this all straightened out, but the Judge reminded everyone he could that you just “never know.” With this in mind, from time to time we contact the bank that maintains our Client Trust account about fund availability. The best practice that they recommend is that we give insurance checks at least five (5) business days to “clear” and this is the policy that we have generally adopted.

Q. What exactly is a “Law Clerk” and what do they do at your office?
One of our former law clerks answered that question by telling people that law clerks are the people in a law firm who “read the fine print.” But that humorous answer is only slightly true. Law clerks are usually law students who are hired by the Firm during the summers between their first and second years of study. They gain experience in many facets of the Firm’s daily operations, helping research and prepare documents and sometimes attending court sessions or meeting with clients. In our Firm, law clerks are exposed to the practical side of the law and we strive to have them help with interesting assignments in a friendly environment. Over the years we have had many law clerks, most of whom are becoming quite successful in their career paths. Some notable examples of our law clerk “graduates” or “alumni” include Margaret L. Fulton (Assistant Commissioner of Revenue Administration for the State of New Hampshire), T. Dos Urbanski (partner in the Boston law firm of Melick, Porter & Shea, LLP), David Tapalian (founder and partner in the Providence law firm of Tapalian & Tadros, P.C.) and Sherwin Siy (graduate of U.C. Berkeley’s Boalt Hall School of Law and currently Deputy Legal Director and the Khale/Austin Promise Fellow at Public Knowledge in Washington, D.C.). We wish them and all of our former law clerks and staff the very best now and in the future!

Q: Should I take a field sobriety test if asked by Massachusetts police after a traffic stop?
No – you do not have to do so and police officers are not required to tell you that you may politely refuse or decline these “roadside circus acts.”
Best of all, the fact that you refuse cannot be used against you in court. See Article 12 of the Massachusetts Declaration of Rights. Roadside tests are also voluntary in Rhode Island, Connecticut, New Hampshire, Maine and Vermont.