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35 Years of Elder Law (and Estate Planning)

It’s very hard to believe, but it’s been 35 years since I hung up a shingle to practice elder law on June 1, 1987. At the time, few people had heard of “elder law” and I wanted to brand the field and the new firm, so I called it ElderLaw Services.

I rented a small office with a view of an alley in a suite of other lawyers on Winthrop Square in downtown Boston. I had a lot to learn in both the substance and business of practicing law. Fortunately, it was a collegial group in the office suite and they helped me a lot in the first few years. In addition, I started with no clients, so when the first few started trickling in I had time to figure out how advise and represent them.

To get that trickle of clients started, I tried many forms of guerilla marketing, including:

· Speaking at local senior centers.

· Writing articles for Massachusetts Lawyers Weekly. While I didn’t know much, since it was such a new field, few other attorneys knew much more at the time.

· I placed coupons for discounted services in ValPaks. Sometimes new clients would show up with these many years later.

· I rented a small office in Coolidge Corner in Brookline because according to the census at the time Brookline had the oldest average age of any community in Massachusetts at that time.

· I advertised in the professional services section of the Brookline TAB (which has just recently stopped publishing).

· I started a monthly newsletter to send to clients and referral sources, which is now a bi-weekly eletter.

Over the years, we’ve grown, morphed, split, moved and grown some more. We abandoned the trade name as our practice expanded to include more traditional estate planning, special needs planning, probate administration and serving as trustee. We had the experience that we’d do work for a client’s parents, and then the client would get back in touch with us for a referral to an estate planning firm, not understanding that we did that work as well.

The firm became Margolis & Cohen, Margolis & Associates, Margolis & Bloom, and now, Margolis Bloom & D’Agostino.

We moved from Winthrop Square to Arch Street to Newbury Street to Boylston Street and ultimately to Wellesley. We’ve had satellite offices in Brookline, Salem, Framingham, Woburn, Norwood and even Boston, after the main office moved to Wellesley. We gave them all up during the pandemic.

With our latest hires, we now have eight lawyers and 12 other employees. Since very early on it’s been a team effort. Over the years we’ve represented tens of thousands of clients and their families. We know a bit more than we did 35 years ago about both the substantive law and running a law practice, but there’s always more to learn on all fronts.

If you’re reading this, you’ve been part of the journey. Thank you.

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