Malpractice ‘Traps’ Excerpt: Premature Notices of Appeal

Thursday, Dec. 3, 2020
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The Massachusetts Bar Association is in the process of updating its Traps for the Unwary publication, a member-exclusive reference guide last published in 2011 that looks at some of the malpractice hazards for attorneys who practice in a general, civil practice. We invite members to share any “traps” they’ve come across in their practice for possible inclusion in the next edition.

Share your trap suggestion by emailing it to Attorney James E. Harvey Jr. of O’Malley and Harvey LLP, who is again serving as editor-in-chief for the project and is working closely with liaisons from several MBA section councils.

To help you identify potential traps, the MBA will periodically publish excerpts from Traps for the Unwary in eJournal. View this week’s trap, plus previously shared examples, below.


A notice of appeal filed before the disposition of certain post-trial motions shall have no effect; a new notice of appeal must be timely filed after the disposition of the last post-trial motion. See Mass. R. A. P. 4(a)(3). A new notice of appeal must be filed within the prescribed time measured from the entry of the order disposing of the last such motion. Beliveau v. Ware, 87 Mass. App. Ct. 615, 616, 33 N.E.3d 459 (2015). If an attorney has even the slightest doubt over whether any motions have tolled the time for filing a notice of appeal, the attorney would be well-advised to file a notice of appeal within 30 days of the final judgment and then another notice of appeal within 30 days after the decision on the last such motion.