Volunteer Spotlight

Issue March 2012 By Tricia M. Oliver

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 have.

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 cases.

"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.