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Professional Liability

Representing professionals in a variety of fields has long been an important part of our practice. Members of SRBC’s Professional Liability Group have experience defending and resolving claims involving attorneys, psychiatrists, accountants, architects, real estate brokers and insurance agents.

We are regularly retained by major national professional liability insurers to handle malpractice actions. We also represent professionals as personal counsel in the Massachusetts state and federal courts and before state disciplinary boards, including the Massachusetts Board of Bar Overseers and the Board of Registration in Medicine. Members of the group have served as appointed hearing officers for disciplinary matters before the Board of Bar Overseers.

We are among the region’s most experienced advisers to law firms, an area in which we have been recognized since acting as counsel to the plaintiffs in the landmark 1989 Supreme Judicial Court case Meehan v. Shaughnessy, one of the first decisions in the nation to address the obligations and rights of partners leaving a law firm. We regularly represent law firms and attorneys in matters involving fee disputes and law firm dissolution. Within our insurance practice, we also have extensive experience in matters involving coverage for lawyers under professional liability policies. We have lectured and written extensively on professional liability issues, particularly matters relating to legal ethics and attorney and accountant malpractice, and insurance-coverage issues that arise in this area.

Our longstanding active involvement in the legal community has contributed to our prominence in the professional liability field.  Senior partner Edward Barshak is a past president of the Boston Bar Association and a longtime member of the Massachusetts Board of Bar Examiners.  Ed was also a member of the American Law Institute’s consultative committee for the recently published Restatement of the Law Governing Lawyers.  Partner Anthony Doniger is also a past president of the Boston Bar Association.  Managing Partner Regina Roman currently serves as Co-Chair of the BBA Ethics Committee.  Other members of the firm serve or have served on the BBA’s Council (its governing body), on its executive committee, as chair of its Litigation Section and its Professional Liability Committee, and on the Boston Bar Foundation, the Board of Bar Overseers and the Executive Committee of the Boston Inn of Court.

Areas of Practice:

We represent professionals in a variety of fields and areas of specialty. For example:

  • Civil litigators (e.g., claims involving strategic decisions during litigation; alleged failure to seek jury trial in employment discrimination case; failure to commence a lawsuit within the statute of limitations; failure to provide required notices under statutes or insurance policies; failure to obtain pre-judgment security; alleged negligent drafting of releases and settlement documents; failure to name proper parties in pleadings; negligent settlement recommendations; alleged failure to adequately prosecute claims or appeals; and claims by opposing parties in litigation)
  • Business attorneys (e.g., claims involving alleged negligent performance as escrow agent or trustee; drafting of stock purchase agreements; investment, tax and bankruptcy advice; construction bond claims)
  • Intellectual property lawyers (e.g., claims involving alleged improper advice on patent matters and alleged negligence in handling intellectual property litigation)
  • Bank counsel (e.g., claims of alleged failure by bank attorneys to detect and report possible conflict of interests, or to adequately advise directors about inadequate loan policies or specific lending decisions)
  • Real estate lawyers (e.g., claims involving alleged negligent certification of title, failure to research zoning regulations, failure to register security interests, inadequate preparation of loan documents; claims arising from right of first refusal under condominium agreement, lis pendens notices; claims involving alleged mishandling of trust proceeds)
  • Probate and family lawyers (e.g., claims involving alleged mishandling of modification procedures, drafting of wills & prenuptial and separation agreements, and child custody matters)
  • Criminal attorneys (e.g., claims involving alleged wrongful conviction)
  • Accountants (e.g., claims of alleged negligent tax advice and preparation of tax returns, mishandled audits)
  • Brokers and other professionals (e.g., claims involving alleged mishandling of mass promotional mailing, confidential medical records, placement of insurance, and insurance adjustment of fire loss; disputes arising from real estate transactions and government research contracts; and defamation and other claims against trade associations).

Representative Matters:

Our recent cases have included the successful defense of:

  • A Virginia intellectual property firm, and two individual lawyers, in a case arising from a patent dispute with a client’s competitor. The client’s liability insurer sought $2.8 million in damages from the lawyers. After a two-week trial in federal court, a jury returned a verdict finding that neither lawyer was negligent, and the court entered judgment for the law firm on its counterclaim for unpaid fees. (Read the case report here.)
  • An employment litigator who had represented a law firm in a discrimination case, and was alleged to have negligently failed to claim a jury trial in superior court. The case was successfully resolved through settlement.
  • A litigator who allegedly negligently drafted a settlement agreement and release in a lead-paint case. After a landmark ruling by the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court on the assignability of legal malpractice claims, the case was won at summary judgment on remand.
  • A law firm accused of failing to disclose to its bank client’s board of directors material information about a contemplated loan. After a trial in superior court, a jury returned with a verdict in favor of the defendants.
  • A litigator alleged to have improperly delayed in commencing a construction-defect case against one of several defendants in a dispute arising out of a condominium development. The case was successfully resolved through settlement, with the defendant lawyer receiving payment of her fees.
  • An accountant sued by his celebrity clients for alleged failure to file tax returns and mishandling of an ensuing IRS audit. After a week-long arbitration hearing, the arbitrator issued an award in favor of the defendant.

For more information regarding our professional liability expertise, and how we can help you achieve your goals, please contact William L. Boesch (Co-Chair), at boesch@srbc.com or Regina Roman (Co-Chair), at roman@srbc.com or 617-227-3030.

Related Publications:

April 04, 2013 -
Are In-Firm Communications About A Current Client Privileged?
In the Boston Bar Journal's Spring 2013 issue, SRBC partners David Barry and William Boesch look at an issue that is currently the subject of a case before ...
Learn more

March 08, 2011 -
Massachusetts Legal Malpractice Cases 2000-2009
Massachusetts Law Review has published the latest in a leading series of articles by SRBC partners David Barry and William Boesch  surveying developments in Massachusetts legal malpractice law.

June 23, 2009 -
Do Legal Malpractice Claims Against IP Lawyers Belong in Federal Court?
In an article in Andrews's Professional Liability Litigation Reporter, SRBC's William Boesch writes about three recent federal appellate decisions addressing whether legal malpractice claims against intellectual property lawyers necessarily implicate matters of federal IP law, and therefore may be brought ...
Learn more

Related News:

October 21, 2016 -
Nineteen Sugarman Rogers Attorneys Recognized as "Super Lawyers" and "Rising Stars"

Nineteen lawyers from Sugarman Rogers have been included in this year’s edition of the Massachusetts "Super Lawyers" and "Rising Stars" lists. 
Sixteen attorneys have been named to the 2016 "Super Lawyers" list, an honor based on peer review and professional ...
Learn more

October 20, 2016 -
Victory for Tax Accountant in Family Business Dispute
Sugarman Rogers partner William L. Boesch and associate ...
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September 21, 2016 -
A Conversation with the Legends: Themes of the Case, Opening Statements & Closing Arguments
Senior partner David A. Barry joins the third installment of MCLE's groundbreaking series "...
Learn more

August 19, 2016 -
Paul E. White To Serve On Business Court Advisory Committee
SRBC partner Paul E. White was recently appointed by the Chief Justice of the Massachusetts Superior Court to serve as a member of the Advisory Committee for the court's Business Litigation Session (BLS). The BLS is the ...
Learn more

August 15, 2016 -
Twelve Sugarman Rogers Partners Named 2017 Best Lawyers in America
Sugarman Rogers is pleased to announce that twelve of its attorneys – over 70 percent of the firm’s partners – have been selected for inclusion in the 2017 edition of  ...
Learn more

August 05, 2016 -
Paul E. White Appointed As Chair to DRI's 2017 Retail and Hospitality Seminar
We are proud to announce that the Defense Research Institute (DRI) has appointed Paul E. White to serve as the Chair of the DRI’s 2017 Retail and Hospitality Seminar in Chicago, which takes place on May 4 and 5.  

Learn more

June 06, 2016 -
Law Firms Primarily Engaged in Debt Collection Activities Are Not Required to Obtain a Debt Collector's License
On April 1, 2016, the Division of Banks for the Commonwealth of Massachusetts (the “Division”) reversed course on the issue of whether a law firm that engages primarily in debt collection work must register as a debt collector in Massachusetts, and stated that the Division will not require law firms that ...
Learn more

November 01, 2015 -
SRBC Receives High Rankings on "Best Law Firm" List
SRBC has been named to the 2016 list of "Best Law Firms" by U.S. News and Best Lawyers. The firm is highly ranked in several practice areas, both nationally and regionally.

Learn more

August 21, 2015 -
Thirteen SRBC Partners Named to The Best Lawyers in America 2016 List
Thirteen partners from the Boston-based civil litigation firm Sugarman, Rogers, Barshak & Cohen, P.C. received top rankings in the 2016 edition of The Best Lawyers in America® for their skills and expertise in their respective practice areas. 

Learn more

May 19, 2015 -
John O'Neill: Common Coverage Issues - Or Everything You Need To Know About Insurance Before Being Sued
On Tuesday, May 19, John O'Neill will be participating as a panelist at a Boston Bar Association lunch program for the Professional Liability Section.

Learn more

May 12, 2015 -
Common Coverage Issues - Or Everything You Need To Know About Insurance Before Being Sued

On Tuesday, May 19, John O'Neill will be participating as a panelist at a Boston Bar Association lunch program for the Professional Liability Section.

Learn more

March 05, 2015 -
Early Victory for Accountant in Malpractice Case
Based on papers filed by SRBC's William Boesch, a superior court judge has dismissed a widow's claim that the accountant for her late husband's estate improperly assisted the executor, her stepson, in depriving her of her rightful share of income and assets from the estate. The court agreed with William's ...
Learn more

February 06, 2015 -
John O'Neill Presents on Legal Issues for MA Civil Engineers
On February 25th, John O'Neill, a partner in the firm's Insurance and Professional Liability Groups, will be presenting at the full day seminar entitled "Legal Issues for Massachusetts Civil Engineers." John's presentation will cover a variety of topics, ...
Learn more

November 04, 2014 -
SRBC Receives High Rankings on "Best Law Firm" List
SRBC has been named to the 2015 list of "Best Law Firms" by U.S. News and Best Lawyers. The firm received top "Tier 1" rankings in Boston across eleven practice areas:

Learn more

August 18, 2014 -
Fourteen Partners Earned Title "2015 Best Lawyers" and One Partner Named "Lawyer of the Year"
Fourteen SRBC partners have been recognized by their peers for inclusion in The Best Lawyers in America© 2015. In addition, David Barry earned special recognition as "Boston Lawyer of the Year" for Product Liability Litigation-Defendants. ...
Learn more

May 01, 2014 -
William Boesch: ABA National Legal Malpractice Conference Panelist
SRBC's William Boesch will appear on a panel at this spring's ...
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April 05, 2014 -
William Boesch to Speak at ABA National Legal Malpractice Conference
SRBC's William Boesch will appear on a panel at this spring's ...
Learn more

November 04, 2013 -
SRBC Ranked "First Tier" in Boston in 10 Practice Areas

The 2014 edition of the "Best Law Firms" rankings by U.S. News and Best Lawyers rates SRBC a "First Tier" firm in Boston in ten of its practice areas:

Learn more

September 04, 2013 -
Malpractice Insurance Coverage for Lawyers Caught in Check Scams?

SRBC partner William Boesch recently helped a malpractice-insurer client to a summary-judgment victory before a New Hampshire federal district court, in a case involving a lawyer who unwittingly fell for a common type of e-mail scam and sought coverage under his professional liability policy to restore ...
Learn more

August 15, 2013 -
Fifteen SRBC Partners Named “2014 Best Lawyers” and Two Ranked “Lawyer of the Year”
Fifteen SRBC partners have been ranked at the top of their profession, including two partners earning special recognition as “Lawyer of the Year,” in the 2014 edition of The Best Lawyers in America. Best Lawyers is the oldest peer-review publication in the legal ...
Learn more

July 12, 2013 -
Supreme Judicial Court: In-Firm Communications Are Privileged

Entering what it acknowledged were “uncharted jurisprudential waters,” the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court on July 10 became the first last-resort appellate court anywhere in the United States to address whether the attorney-client privilege applies to communications between lawyers in the same ...
Learn more

November 13, 2012 -
SRBC Ranks High in "Best Law Firms" Survey
SRBC has received first-tier rankings in nine of its practice areas in the 2013 U.S. News/Best Lawyers “Best Law Firms” survey. The firm was recognized as a National Tier 1 firm in Product ...
Learn more

September 12, 2012 -
Fifteen SRBC Lawyers Named Best Lawyers in America
Fifteen of SRBC's partners have been selected for inclusion in the 2013 edition of The Best Lawyers in America. Best Lawyers calls itself “the definitive guide to legal excellence in the United States.” The publication annually ...
Learn more

February 13, 2012 -
Appeals Court: Insurer Protected From Liability For Conduct of Its Lawyer In Subrogation Case
A recent decision of the Massachusetts Appeals Court has extended the protection afforded to insurers against potential liability based on the conduct of the outside lawyers they hire. Read SRBC's assessment of Sandman v. Quincy Mutual Fire Ins. Co.

September 09, 2011 -
Thirteen SRBC Lawyers Named to Best Lawyers in America
The 2012 edition of The Best Lawyers in America, described as "the definitive guide to legal excellence in the U.S." and based on a nationwide peer survey of more than 3.9 million lawyers, has named 13 SRBC partners to its annual list. The partners, and the Best Lawyers ...
Learn more

April 02, 2011 -
Summary Judgment Victory for Malpractice Insurer
SRBC partners Regina Roman and John O'Neill have won summary judgment on behalf of a legal malpractice insurer-client in a dispute over coverage in a fee dispute between a lawyer and his former firm. After the lawyer left the firm with a substantial personal-injury case, the firm sued for a share of the ...
Learn more

November 10, 2010 -
Summary Judgment for Insurer in Scammed-Lawyer Case
SRBC partners Regina Roman and William Boesch have assisted a professional liability insurer-client in obtaining summary judgment in a coverage lawsuit brought by a South Carolina law firm that fell victim to a familiar e-mail scam. The law firm responded to an e-mail purportedly sent on behalf of a ...
Learn more

October 04, 2010 -
U.S. News: SRBC Among Boston's Best Law Firms in Seven Practice Areas
According to survey results newly published by U.S. News and Best Lawyers seeking to identify the "Best Law Firms" in a number of metropolitan areas, SRBC ranks in the "first tier" of Boston law firms in ...
Learn more

October 02, 2010 -
Eleven SRBC Partners Named to Annual "Best Lawyers in America" List

Eleven SRBC partners have been named to the 2011 edition of The Best Lawyers in America, an annual publication that calls itself "the definitive guide to legal excellence in the United States." This year's selections are based on surveys in which more than 3.1 million leading lawyers were ...
Learn more

August 25, 2010 -
Massachusetts Court Limits Reach of Maternity-Leave Statute, Holds Employer's Attorneys Liable for Malpractice
In a new Law Alert, SRBC's employment law group writes about a recent decision of the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court (Global NAPs, Inc. v. Awiszus) which, in the context of a legal malpractice dispute, construed a Massachusetts statute that affords protection to employees who take maternity leave. ...
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May 10, 2010 -
Regina Roman: Who's The Client?
SRBC managing partner Regina Roman will appear on a panel of three experts at a May 10 Massachusetts Continuing Legal Education program entitled "Who's The Client? Business & Litigation Ethics."

Learn more

February 24, 2010 -
Levin on Courtroom Advocacy
On February 24, 2010, SRBC partner Andy Levin will appear as a panelist in a Massachusetts Continuing Legal Education (MCLE) program entitled “Courtroom Advocacy.” Panelists will offer how-to secrets of great courtroom advocates for each phase of a case.

October 01, 2009 -
Regina Roman Appointed to High Court's Advisory Committee on Ethics Rules
SRBC Managing Partner Regina Roman has been appointed by the Justices of the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court to the court's Standing Advisory Committee on the Massachusetts Rules of Professional Conduct. The committee reviews issues arising under the rules and proposals for changes, and ...
Learn more

July 10, 2009 -
Has The Appeals Court Shifted Course on Legal Malpractice Statute of Limitations?
A continuing source of uncertainty in legal malpractice cases has been application of the "discovery rule" in deciding when the statute of limitations for a client's malpractice claim begins to run. As SRBC's William Boesch writes in a new Law Alert, this uncertainty is unlikely to diminish after a recent ...
Learn more

March 25, 2009 -
Superior Court: No Legal Malpractice Damages for Loss of Stock-Market Value
SRBC's William Boesch writes about a recent Massachusetts superior court decision rejecting a $60 million damages claim in a legal malpractice case, which was based on a decline in the client company's stock-market value after the SEC suspended trading in its stock. William is co-chair of the firm's ...
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