WHY SLNLAW IS COMING TO THE HILLTOWNS
A Message from Attorney Emily Smith-Lee
A few years before I was born, my parents bought a farm in Chester, along with another family. Though our permanent residence as children was in New Haven, CT, we spent every summer and many weekends in Chester. In those years the farmhouse had no electricity, an unpredictable water supply, and phone service we shared with the house up the road through a "party line." As young children, we played in the woods, worked on the various projects the adults had dreamed up, took care of the horses we brought up every summer, clamored for trips to Moltenbrey's for penny candy, entered artwork, produce, and flower arrangements in the Littleville Fair (which at least as I remember it never won), and descended on the Huntington Library when we ran out of books to read.
When we became young adults and moved out of the family home, my mother sold her New Haven house and moved to the farm in Chester permanently. She very quickly immersed herself in the community, running for a position on the Gateway School Committee which she has now held for more than twenty years. My children and nieces and nephews have had the opportunity to share our childhood experience, spending time at the farm (which now has electricity thanks to solar panels, a reliable water source, and most recently a broadband connection). We gather there in the summer, at holidays, and every few years we spend the late winter/early spring making maple syrup.
This area has a magnetic pull for all of us. My mother couldn't wait to relocate here. My father is buried here. I was married here. Most of the important moments in our family have happened here.
When I started law school in the 1990s, I began to notice where there were and were not lawyers in the various places I went. My first thirteen years of practice were in a large law firm in downtown Boston, where you could not walk ten feet without encountering a lawyer, yet there seemed to be no lawyers at all in many of the hilltowns. When I started my own practice in Sharon Massachusetts, even in a town of 17,000 people there were at least a dozen lawyers or small law firms- still nothing in most of the hilltowns.
I have occasionally helped a friend of my mother's or my brother's from afar, and we have represented clients from western Massachusetts who found us all the way in Sharon because they were looking for a service they needed and could not find locally.
I have thought about this for years. When we interact with a small business in the hilltowns, I wonder where they go for help setting up their business, creating business contracts that protect them, or navigating the tricky waters of Massachusetts employment laws. When I hear people struggling with a tough employment situation- a termination, a poorly handled medical leave, unpaid wages or unpaid overtime- I wonder where they go for help asserting their rights. When I hear people talking about their families and their property, or having children, I wonder where they go for help putting an estate plan in place to protect them.
This year, in 2019, I realized that my Sharon based business is at a point where I can consider opening a new office, and the hilltowns was the first place that occurred to me. The same lawyers and staff who have helped grow our Sharon practice to a highly rated, well-respected resource for individuals and small businesses are now available to provide that service here.
As we build the hilltown practice, we will have office hours in Chester on Fridays, but we are available for phone consultations any weekday. Just give us a call at (413) 667-2322, and one of our team members can get you scheduled for a free consultation.
We look forward to meeting you!