Malpractice ‘Traps’ Preview: Short Statutes of Limitations

Thursday, Dec. 17, 2020
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The Massachusetts Bar Association is in the process of updating its Traps for the Unwary publication, a member-exclusive reference guide last published in 2011 that looks at some of the malpractice hazards for attorneys who practice in a general, civil practice. We invite members to share any “traps” they’ve come across in their practice for possible inclusion in the next edition.

Share your trap suggestion by emailing it to Attorney James E. Harvey of O’Malley and Harvey LLP, who is again serving as editor-in-chief for the project and is working closely with liaisons from several MBA section councils.

To help you identify potential traps, the MBA will periodically publish excerpts from Traps for the Unwary in eJournal. View this week’s trap, plus previously shared examples, below.


Once completed and published, the new edition of the MBA’s Traps for the Unwary will list 50 short statutes of limitations that lawyers should be aware of. It will also include 25 possibly applicable exceptions to the statutes of limitations, including relation back under Mass. R. Civ. P. 15(c); the discovery rule, see, e.g., Harrington v. Costello, 467 Mass. 720, 727 (2014); and (applicable in many cases) the extension of deadlines for up to 105 days, as provided in the Supreme Judicial Court’s COVID-19 orders, which initially went into effect on March 17, 2020.