In my 40 years of practice as a trial lawyer in Massachusetts, with wide experience all over this Commonwealth, I can say without fear of contradiction that the vast majority of practicing attorneys are both competent and ethical. The vast majority of lawyers have never had any legal malpractice claims brought against them, nor any claims of ethical violation. Nevertheless, there is a disturbing trend toward relaxed standards of admission to law school, relaxed practice standards, and insufficient attention paid to education in legal ethics. These issues can weaken the overall strength of the bar. Also, particularly in bad economic times, lawyers often “change hats”, that is, they go from a practice area they know well, say real estate, where they understand the law, customs and ethics that control real estate transactions, to a very different area, say, litigation, in which they have little training or experience. Sadly, there is no governing body or other apparatus that prevents any lawyer from handling any general legal matter, regardless of whether he or she has any particular fitness or experience sufficient to capably handle any such matter. Thus in law, we can often have the equivalent of allowing psychiatrists to perform open-heart surgery. Such a surgery might go well, but who would not rather have a cardiac surgeon holding the scalpel? Also, in medicine, there is always a hospital that will prevent a psychiatrist from doing surgery. In law, there is no such thing. Choose your attorney wisely, and call us if you need help with that.