A General Practice
I have a general practice. That means, as you will see below, that I have a wide range of experience.
Many attorneys like to specialize in one particular area. They don't have to keep up with as many areas of the law, and because they are so knowledgeable about one particular area, they charge more money. Frequently, these specialists get together and form a firm. Each of the specialists in such a firm is happy because nobody takes anyone else's business and because they are all specialized, they all charge higher fees. They win; the client loses.
I prefer a more diverse practice. Frankly, it keeps my practice from becoming monotonous. But it also has a great benefit for my clients. Legal matters frequently touch on several areas of the law, and I have experience in most of them. And not just superficial experience. I've successfully prosecuted $120,000 loan claims. I've pursued civil litigation involving national banks. I've won several criminal and juvenile delinquency jury trials. I've successfully litigated child abuse and neglect cases against the Department of Children and Families. I've participated in dozens of eviction proceedings. I've prosecuted (and defended) several child custody, visitation and support claims, some of which involved emergency ex parte proceedings. I've represented dozens of clients in real estate transactions concerning single family residences, condominium conversions, commercial leases and 100-unit multifamily residential buildings.
My clients are confident that I can assist them in any of the areas of the law they are likely to encounter. Sure, there are some areas of the law I don't typically deal in (medical malpractice, personal injury, complex tax planning involving estates greater than $3.5MM), but I know very well qualified attorneys who do.
When someone asks one of my clients, "Who's your lawyer?" They can answer Clive Jacques with confidence.
You receive a call from the police. Your son or daughter (or other child between 7 and 18 years old in your custody) has been arrested. A parent or guardian is placed in a difficult position in these matters. What is the child charged with? You want your child to be honest and take responsibility for their actions, but you don't want them to be treated as a criminal. When you get to the police station to retrieve your child, should they make a statement? Should it be recorded? Once you get to the Juvenile Court, how should the case be resolved? General Continuance? Pre-Trial Probation? Continuance Without a Finding? Jury Trial? Bench Trial? For children charged with delinquency, especially those attending public school, the simple act of being charged with a crime may result in their immediate suspension from school, even for crimes that don't involve schoolmates or school property. If your child has an Individualized Education Plan, they may be entitled to a "manifestation hearing" prior to a long-term suspension.
For most people, getting arrested or being summoned to court to answer a criminal charge is an extraordinary experience. Surprisingly, many people choose to resolve criminal matters without an attorney. Unfortunately, most people don't know the collateral effects of criminal convictions. If you're reading this web page, then I hope you won't be one of them. Whether you feel that you are guilty of the crime charged or not, you should speak with an attorney to consider your options.
Child Abuse & Neglect
What could possibly be more traumatic than having a social worker take your child in the middle of the night? It's 7:30 PM, and there is a knock at the door. You open the door to find a very nice young woman who identifies herself as a social worker from the Department of Children and Families. She hands you a document and explains that the Department has received a report from an anonymous source alleging that your child has been abused or neglected. She asks (firmly) to come in and speak with the child, in private. She may be accompanied by the police. Scared? Confused? Who wouldn't be? Unless you have an attorney, the only person in this scenario with expert knowledge about what is happening is the social worker. And the worker doesn't know anything about criminal law. If the allegations of abuse or neglect would also support criminal charges, then your situation is even more complicated.
Whether the Department seeks emergency custody of your child or not, you should speak with an attorney to consider your options. Even if the Department does not open your case for services, having a substantiated claim of abuse or neglect can have adverse consequences for years.
Some marriages end spectacularly. This is especially true with substance abuse or domestic violence. Often times, an abuse prevention order marks the beginning of the end. Such proceedings are frequently very emotional and the parties can easily become irrational (and unpersuasive). If you need to obtain an abuse prevention order, but especially if you wish to defend against one, you're better off with an attorney to help make your case.
By the time most couples have decided to end their marriage, both sides want it over as soon as possible. If you have children together, then the Probate and Family Court is going to pay special attention to your case. By far, the best (and most cost effective) way of obtaining a divorce is by agreement. Having an attorney on your side can make sure that you are treated fairly, not just quickly.
For couples who are already divorced, or those that were never married, issues frequently pop up concerning visitation and child support. In extraordinary cases, some event may warrant a change in custody. Your chances of getting what you want (or preventing the other party from changing the situation) increase greatly with an attorney.
Real Estate transactions are the oldest type of legal work, I'd venture to say. Unfortunately, the age of the law in this area can make these transactions arcane. The good news is that this type of work is relatively inexpensive. An oddity, really, when you consider that most homes in the Concord area sell for well over $500,000. In these circumstances it's just foolish not to engage an attorney. Everyone in the deal seems to have your best interest at heart: the broker, the bank, the bank's attorney, the buyer/seller. The reality is that each of these players has their own vested interest which can bias their advice. Only an experienced attorney can help you negotiate the purchase and sale agreement which will protect your interests without killing the deal. In addition to real estate purchase and sales, I am also experienced in converting property into condominiums.
More than any other area of practice, this is one where a little advice goes a long way. It may cost a little money to have an attorney advise you concerning a new tenant. It's going to cost you a lot more money in lost rent and attorney's fees to evict that same tenant if they disturb other tenants, damage the property or fall behind on the rent. In the eyes of the law, landlords and tenants are not equal bargaining partners. As a result, the law basically favors tenants. Landlords can protect themselves with security deposits and summary process, but the rules are not simple and the costs of mistakes can be severe. Hiring an experienced attorney will save you a lot of money and aggravation.
Basic Estate Planning & Guardianship
Who is going to get your stuff when you die? Who will tell the doctors what to do if you cannot? Under what circumstances, if any, should that person be able to "pull the plug"? Basic estate planning will help you answer all of these questions for yourself and your loved ones. If your assets exceed $1MM, then a small bit of planning now will help you save a lot of taxes later (hopefully, much, much later). Estate planning does not necessarily take a long time or cost a great deal of money.
Civil Litigation & Consumer Protection
In addition to all my other practice areas, I handle a wide variety of civil matters. These include disputes involving loans, home construction, new and used car sales, insurance settlement, advertising and unfair and deceptive business practices. If you are having a financial dispute with another party, whether it's $1,000 or $100,000, the best way to collect your money or to defend a lawsuit is with an attorney.