It is a tremendous honor to announce that Jonathan E. Fields has been selected by Best Lawyers. This honor is bestowed on him by both his clients and peers. Best Lawyers was started four decades ago by two Harvard Law Graduates and is one of the most prestigious peer review publications. Their Lawyer lists are compiled by tens of thousands of leading lawyers confidentially evaluating their professional peers. No fees can be paid to become listed in the Best Lawyers publications. If the lawyer is recognized as a Best Lawyer they must maintain their subsequent votes in the polls to continue to be included in future editions.
See Sheryl Dennis’s recent interview with Citybiz.
Along with Chief Justice Casey and the Honorable Judge Giordano, Vicki L. Shemin will be co-presenting with other family law practitioners on the topic, “What Have We Learned? Parenting Coordination Developments Since the Issuance of Standing Order 1-17,” sponsored by the BBA’s Family Law Section. Please save the date and RSVP:
Vicki L. Shemin, a partner at Fields & Dennis in Wellesley, will co-present on April 16 on the topic of “Unlikely Partners: Divorce Attorney and Couples Therapist” at the NASW 2021 Symposium on “Voices of Empowerment & Social Justice.”
Inspired lawyer proposes Bench-Bar Civility Honor Roll
Across the nation and in Massachusetts, there has been a call to arms to promulgate civility in all bench-bar facets. For example, annually the American Inns of Court designates a month to spotlight the need to work toward a “vision of a legal profession and judiciary dedicated to professionalism, ethics, civility and excellence.”
And, as recently as Feb. 22, the Massachusetts Bar Association held a program on “How the Bench and Bar Can Work Together to Improve Lawyer Civility.” While I believe we can all agree that it is easy to “talk the talk,” when there are no directional signposts to navigate theory into practice insofar as “walking the talk,” we are left to wonder where the rubber meets the road. Just three days after the MBA conference, I was privileged to have witnessed firsthand a spontaneous act of civility at its finest.
At long last, on Feb. 25, we had a 9 a.m. hearing on an uncontested G.L.c. 208, §1A, divorce case. The parties had been waiting since July 2020 for their court date. After two and a half hours in the Zoom waiting room, parties and counsel were finally called for the hearing.
The judge asked for a clarification and written edit to the child support section of the separation agreement and told us she could not approve the agreement as is.
After attorney Jared Wood and I hammered out a written revision, attorney Wood snatched victory from the jaws of defeat: He dashed out to his car, drove to the parties’ homes to get their original signatures on the edited agreement, and then rushed to the Middlesex County courthouse to flag down a court officer and get the revised agreement into the hands of the judge’s clerk. (There may or may not have been the necessity for attorney Wood to have not one but two McDonald’s cheeseburgers and a milkshake on the way back to his office, for his emotional and physical fortification.)
Just three days after the MBA conference, I was privileged to have witnessed firsthand a spontaneous act of civility at its finest.
At 3 p.m., parties and counsel took a leap of faith by signing back into the judge’s Zoom waiting room. With five minutes to spare, at 3:55 p.m., the judge gave us a second call, enabling the parties to have their long-awaited hearing and their agreement approved. None of this could have happened without attorney Wood’s tenacity, grace and kindness under pressure. He literally went the extra mile(s)! In his honor, I propose that we institute a Bench-Bar Civility Honor Roll to inspire us to attain the lofty theoretical “vision of a legal profession and judiciary dedicated to professionalism, ethics, civility and excellence” — and to celebrate the role models among us who have truly elevated their professional practices as models of civility. For, in the end, they are our guideposts. See full article
Vicki L. Shemin is a partner at Fields & Dennis in Wellesley. She can be contacted at VShemin@FieldsDennis.com.
Expertise selected Fields and Dennis as one of the top Divorce Lawyers in the Boston area.
Each year Expertise.com reviews over 326 divorce lawyers in the Boston area to find the top 19 in the area. Fields and Dennis LLP was selected as one of them. They base their selections on five criteria.
- Availability, or its responsiveness and availability to their customers.
- Qualifications, do they build customer confidence with their licensing, accreditations, and awards?
- Reputation, do they have a history of outstanding service?
- Experience, are they masters of their craft?
- Professionalism, do they provide service with honesty, reliability, and respect.
Fields and Dennis LLP has met and exceeded these expectations!
Vicki L. Shemin, J.D., LICSW, ACSW was presented with Avvo Clients’ Choice Award Badge for 2021. This award is given to attorneys whose outstanding legal services have resulted in highly satisfied clients. There’s nothing that an attorney can do to ask for a Clients’ Choice Award. Instead, Avvo makes the award based only on quality reviews from satisfied clients throughout the year.
By Vicki L. Shemin, J.D., LICSW, ACSW
In this season of joy and good tidings, it is easy to overlook those families whose lives are forever changed because of divorce. The traditions of the holiday meal and of opening presents is replaced by bruising brawls about where the children will be spending their holiday time and which parent will “win” and which parent will “lose” Christmas Eve, Christmas Day, Winter vacation, and New Year’s Eve. Although these holidays are emblematic of the season, these fights replicate throughout the year in one way, shape, or form to birthdays, graduations, and even who gets to be on the soccer field.
I polled 7 of Boston’s top divorce lawyers and asked them a simple question: “What would you like to be able to say to your clients but never would”? Under promise of anonymity, here are their blunt and unadulterated answers.
· “Unless you have a degree in psychology, I don’t want to hear that your spouse is a narcissistic sociopath with borderline personality disorder who gaslights you.”
· “S/he’s moved on. It’s hard to see now, but you are going to move on. Stop being a jerk. And, really? You’re blaming me for your high legal fees? If you would stop being so irrationally and insanely ridiculous, and let me do my job properly, I could settle this for you in a week. Moreover, the judge disdains you and the court staff roll their eyes when they see you are on the docket and look at the size of your file. You do not have a hard case. You have a personality which makes everything impossible. Yeah – I get why s/he is divorcing you.”
· “I was once naïve enough to take on a client who said, ‘Are you taking new clients?’ I said, ‘Yes, I am.’ She said, ‘Thank G-d, because the last 3 I spoke to said they weren’t taking new cases.’ Yeah….I learned my lesson. So, if a divorce lawyer tells you they’re not taking new clients, it’s more likely than not that they have detected something about your case, your history or your personality they either don’t like or don’t want to deal with – no matter how much you’re willing to pay them!”
· A renowned Judge used to say, “Do you really hate your ex-spouse more than you love your children?” To which I would add, “Do you have any idea how much damage you are doing to your kids? Forget about exacting revenge, take the high road, and show your kids you are a decent human being underneath that seething rage.”
· Here are my words of advice: (1) Figure out what matters most and don’t sweat the small stuff; (2) If you message nasty content to your children about their other parent, you will be inflicting pain on them and it will boomerang on you in your relationship with them; and (3) If you want to reduce legal fees, consolidate and make concise your communications with your lawyer.
· “I can only go so far in representing you. Your position is totally unreasonable. In fact, not only will the court see your position as totally unreasonable, I think it’s time for you to find another lawyer if you want to continue being so unreasonable.”
· “Most seasoned divorce lawyers can predict the likely final outcome of a divorce case, within reason, after the initial client consultation. Unfortunately, it is often a client’s lack of complete candor about the “warts” of their case during the initial consultation, or the client’s unwillingness to follow the guidance and specific recommendations of their lawyer, that alters these initial predictions.”
There is a doctrine in the law known as res ipsa loquitor – the thing speaks for itself.
Vicki L. Shemin, J.D., LICSW, ACSW, a divorce lawyer and clinical social worker, is a partner at Fields and Dennis LLP in Wellesley. She can be reached at 781.489.6776 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Snap Judgments: Lawyers predict issue that will dominate legal landscape in 2021
Q. Prediction time: What issue on the horizon will dominate the legal landscape in 2021?
“Five hours of time for a five-minute hearing has never seemed so wasteful. With the experience of remote hearings, will the courts realize that, in 2021 and beyond, we cannot go back to the old way of doing things?”
Jonathan E. Fields
Fields & Dennis, Wellesley
“In 2021, the COVID-19 vaccine’s impact on the workforce will dominate the legal landscape. Employers will grapple with vaccine resistance, some due to disability, some due to religious beliefs, some due to fear, and some due to deep-seated distrust of governmental vaccination programs ( i.e., the Tuskegee Study). Health officials and employers alike must establish trust through compliance with federal and state public health initiatives and anti-discrimination guidelines.”
Denise I. Murphy, president
Massachusetts Bar Association
“Race and criminal justice. Will the police reform legislation emerging on Beacon Hill actually deliver on the promise to make police officers and departments accountable to the public — especially in communities of color? And will the Legislature, the courts and the legal profession step up to meet the challenge presented by the Harvard Law School study, commissioned by Chief Justice Gants, that so vividly documented profound racial inequality in our criminal justice system?”
Martin F. Murphy, president
Boston Bar Association
“How the legal system conducts jury trials and deals with the overall backlog are going to be the most pressing legal questions in the coming year. There are hundreds of pending cases, and figuring out how we are going to safely and constitutionally handle them in a post-COVID society is something we are all focused on. We need to make sure that those who have the least are not left behind as we try to rebuild our legal system.”
Anthony J. Benedetti
Committee for Public Counsel Services
“Evictions and foreclosures, unless there is an extended moratorium. In anticipation, I’m rewriting §10:2 ‘Foreclosure Defense’ with a subsection on eviction defense, for 28 Mass. Practice: Real Estate Law, of which I’m the current author. As in the 1930s’ Great Depression, we may see mass civil disobedience to block foreclosure auctions and evictions, bankruptcies of residential and commercial landlords, and bank failures. Hunger and desperation may lead to increased crime, especially theft of food.”
Green, Miles, Lipton, Northampton
“Employers will likely face complex and vexing issues on whether to require employees to take the COVID vaccines. So far there are not government requirements, but that may change as the vaccines prove effective. Presently, the issue of mandatory vaccinations raises the issue of ADA strictures as well as Title VII religious issues. The EEOC just issued guidelines yesterday, but not requirements. Stay tuned!”
Andrew P. Botti
McLane Middleton, Woburn
“Immigration law dominates the legal landscape in 2021. The incoming administration will be under significant pressure to undo the most harmful policies of the Trump administration. Changes in the immigration courts, asylum laws, green card applications, as well as restoration of DACA and Temporary Protected Status will occupy much of the administration’s first days. The Biden administration faces a gargantuan task, and because of that immigration law will be a continuing hot topic in 2021.”
Susan B. Church
Demissie & Church, Cambridge
TURBOCHARGED Estate Planning Practice Upgrade 2019
Leading practitioners and judges analyze advanced next-level issues!
Attorney Sheryl Dennis to Chair MCLE Program on October 25th
Join Attorney Sheryl Dennis for this In-Person Program scheduled for Friday, 10/25/2019, 9:30 am – 4:30 pm,
Courtyard by Marriott, 700 Unicorn Park Drive, Woburn
For more information including registration and agenda. Please visit MCLE.