James E. Harvey Jr.
Massachusetts Association Bar members who have found the MBA's
Traps for the Unwary helpful in their practice have
attorney James E. Harvey Jr. to thank. Although Harvey is not one
to willingly accept praise for the labor-intensive latest edition,
he put hundreds of hours into the recently released sixth edition
and spearheaded the comprehensive project that took more than a
year to complete.
"Traps is for the conscientious lawyer who faces an issue
or accepts a case outside his or her usual expertise, and doesn't
know where the landmines are. Over a hundred lawyers have
contributed ideas that we've used, and we've been doing this for
over 20 years, so Traps has become a clearinghouse for
those hazards," he said.
Harvey had the idea to produce the initial version of MBA's
Traps for the Unwary in 1987. According to Harvey, this
was at a time when the economy was similar to today's and many
attorneys were accepting cases that they typically wouldn't
Highly involved with the MBA's Young Lawyers Division (YLD) at the
time, Harvey brought five ideas to include in a "traps" guide to
Steven Hoffman, the then-Civil Litigation Section chair. "Come to
find out, Steve had 10 more ideas," said Harvey. The first version
of Traps for the Unwary was published in 1988.
Through his work with the MBA's YLD, Civil Litigation Section,
Insurance Committee, House of Delegates, and Nominating Committee,
Harvey was highly involved in the MBA until 1996, when his law
partner unexpectedly passed away. His MBA volunteer commitments
diminished due to firm commitments.
Now a well-established attorney managing a very busy practice at
O'Malley & Harvey LLP in Boston, he remains an MBA member and
every few years takes on the responsibility with colleague Kevin G.
Kenneally of LeClairRyan's Boston office of editing and expanding
the next version of Traps for the Unwary.
Now that the 6th edition of Traps is in the hands of MBA
members, Harvey's discretionary time is split between playing golf
and volunteering for his church (St. Joseph's in Belmont). His
favorite golf opponent is his 90-year-old father -- a former
scratch handicapper -- who still manages to beat Harvey during
their weekly games when the weather's right.
When he's not lucky enough to be playing golf, Harvey enjoys his
career in the law and seems to thrive on the demands of the
profession. "Being an attorney is a hard job, but if you didn't
love it, it's really hard. I am lucky I love it."
Much of Harvey's family share that passion, as they too are in the
legal profession. His uncle was a judge, while two of his four
siblings are attorneys. Harvey's wife, Mary, is also an attorney
and practices insurance defense. The couple has three grown
children and one granddaughter. His kids decided not to pursue
legal careers, so they won't benefit from their father's diligence
in updating one of the MBA's most valuable member benefits.
However, for those who will benefit from it, Harvey says the
latest edition of the guide is better organized than past editions,
while it includes a significantly improved index and a new table of
"It's easier to reference cases multiple times after the first
read," said Harvey, who admits he already has a file started for
the 7th edition of the popular guide.