‘Traps for the Unwary’ available as exclusive member benefit for 2021-22

Thursday, Aug. 12, 2021
Article Picture

The Massachusetts Bar Association is pleased to announce that Traps for the Unwary, the MBA's award-winning malpractice prevention handbook, will be offered as an exclusive member benefit to all 2021-22 MBA members. 

The expanded Seventh Edition, offered as an e-publication, is available now to anyone who has renewed for the upcoming association year. Members who have already renewed can download their e-copy of Traps for the Unwary from their MBA profile. If you haven’t renewed yet, we hope you will take a moment to renew today to ensure you get the earliest possible access to this exclusive member benefit. Once you renew, you will receive an email with instructions for how to access your e-copy. You can also find instructions here.

Last published in 2011, Traps for the Unwary looks at some of the malpractice hazards for attorneys who practice in a general, civil practice. From dangers that arise in uncommon circumstances to hard-to-see risks that are masked by a complex matrix of laws and regulations, Traps for the Unwary is an indispensable reference tool that benefits both lawyer and client. The original Traps for the Unwary, published in 1988, earned a first place Award of Achievement from the American Bar Association for service to the bar.

The Seventh Edition of Traps for the Unwary updates citations and entries from the previous six editions and adds 50% more content across 18 chapters. One chapter alone includes 50 short statutes of limitations, plus 25 possible paths for relief from certain statutes of limitations. This new edition also contains hundreds of time-saving case citations, a table of cases, an improved index and hyperlinked web resources. More than 170 lawyers have contributed traps to this project since its start in 1987, including 50 lawyers who helped update this most recent edition.

James E. Harvey Jr., a partner at O’Malley, Harvey and Brosnan LLP, who served as editor in chief for the Seventh Edition, says that the expanded Seventh Edition — the first in 10 years, with its 160 pages and over 800 case citations — is the best edition yet. “No one lawyer knows all the malpractice and other hazards lurking out there, but 170 lawyers working together know a lot of them. We are grateful for their contributions to the project.”

Funding for Traps for the Unwary has been provided by the MBA Insurance Agency Inc.


We’ve been publishing excerpts in eJournal to highlight some of the “traps” that readers will find in the Seventh Edition of Traps for the Unwary. Read this week’s “trap,” plus previously shared examples, below.

As a jury trial is coming to its end, attorneys should keep in mind:

1. If evidence has been admitted conditionally or de bene at trial over objection, and if the admission is dependent on a fact that was not later introduced in evidence, the objecting party must later move to strike the evidence. Foreign Car Center, Inc. v. Salem Suede, Inc., 40 Mass. App. Ct. 15, 660 N.E.2d 687 (1996); Mass. G. Evid. § 104(b). A motion to strike must be made before the close of evidence in order to preserve the issue for appeal. Jarry v. Corsaro, 40 Mass. App. Ct. 601, 666 N.E.2d 1012 (1996). 

2. Attorneys should clarify whether outstanding offers and demands remain open while the jury is deliberating. This should prevent later disputes over the unfair acceptance of an offer or demand based on some signal from the jury, for example, a quick or slow return from deliberations or a question. Any high-low agreement should be in writing, should be clear, and should address such collateral issues as interest, costs, attorney fees and offsets.