He’s Attorney James Sokolove

And those cheesy ads of his? They’ve done more than make him a pariah and a punch line. They’ve also created an under-the-radar empire that’s about to reinvent the business of ambulance chasing yet again.

Sokolove’s father, Morris, was also a personal-injury lawyer. Sokolove originally wandered into his dad’s line of work without any intention of revolutionizing it. His parents were the children of Russian immigrants who earned a level of status in their tight-knit Jewish community in Revere. Morris was active in the school district’s PTA and a founding member of Temple B’nai Israel. The family was so proud of their ties to the neighborhood of shop owners and community leaders that, even 50 years on, Sokolove can still recite the names of every family on his old street.

Morris Sokolove, who ran his own firm with his nephew, had a knack for putting clients at ease. With his dark-framed glasses and formal dress (“I never saw him in anything but a jacket and a tie, really,” Sokolove says), he projected an air of calm and competence. Morris would often bring his son as he visited clients in their homes, where the lawyer would listen attentively to their stories of work injuries and car accidents. Sometimes James would tag along to the office on weekends, sit at a desk, and organize checks, as if preparing for his future. “Jim was utterly devoted to his father,” says Sokolove’s cousin, Joyce Wiseman.

At home, though, Sokolove’s father didn’t exactly know how to talk to his son. Morris worked long hours, and Sokolove’s mother, Rose, struggled with depression. When Sokolove was 14, his parents sent him to boarding school at Lawrence Academy. He had trouble fitting in and was dogged by insecurity. “I really couldn’t figure out where I belonged—I had one girlfriend—I felt isolated,” he says. “My life didn’t work for me.”

Later, while Sokolove was attending Ohio’s Case Western Reserve University, his father encouraged him to join a fraternity—he’d make some friends, he explained, and would later be able to call on those connections. Sokolove ignored the advice. Without much of a plan for what to do after graduation, he enrolled at Suffolk Law School in 1966 and afterward spent two years working for community agencies and as a legal aid lawyer in Chelsea. He had no intention of joining the family firm. But in 1971 his father, who had been diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease, pulled him aside and asked him to take his place. If for nothing other than fealty, Sokolove complied.

Over the next decade, Sokolove handled a few hundred divorces, maybe 500 accident cases. Not much of a joiner, he didn’t connect with people the same way his dad did. Even after the family firm merged with a larger one, Sokolove never truly threw himself into the work, and the firm suffered for it. In 1978, its last year in business, Sokolove racked up $120,000 worth of expenses for supplies and staff while bringing in only $100,000 in legal fees. He was underwater. When the lawyers ultimately split up, Sokolove says, “everyone went their separate ways, and no one really wanted me to go with them.” As the other partners were emptying out the office, selling the furniture and accoutrements to each other, Sokolove’s family had to convince him to buy his father’s old law books. He had no immediate plan to put them to use.


  • Ben

    I have been waiting for this article ever since I got cable in 1990! Fantastic story. It would be nice to see more feature stories like this that don't revolve entirely around keeping up with the Joneses and conspicuous consumption, right?

  • joe
  • omayra

    hello i would like to know if i would be able to recieve workers comp. due to an accident at work. I had gotten injured and my employer refuses to give me money although i had gotten hurt at work and am not able to return to work till my doctor says taht its ok. can james k. sokolove help me?

  • Robin

    I read the article in the Boston Magazine moths ago. My sisters and I are concerned for my dad who is in Boston Medical now going on 7 mo 7-31-09. This is unhear of. Hes 79 originally started with colon cancer 1st surgery to remove then 2 others because of leakage from punctured blatter and kidney, another gallblatter surgery and plastic surgery to close the wound that punctured something. stints put in and taken out. Hes YELLOW, fever and has infection from open wound thats only special nurses can change. Please advise. My dad is affraid to say anything. He wants to get back together. No one else would take this case, its contaminiated.

  • jb

    Sadly, Mr. Sokolove’s misguided ability to convince himself that he is, in some way, doing good in the world has only let to the propagation of his destructive enterprise from within New England to the rest of the country. Though clearly focusing on the quite interesting evolution of this evil empire, I thank Boston Magazine for at least showcasing at least some of Mr. Sokolove’s shameless self promotion and lust for financial gain (at any cost.) Be ashamed Jim Sokolove. I can assure you, your influence on the health care system has killed many more than you have saved…

  • Salvador Angel


  • lynne

    Is Jim still doing coke? Does he have any $ left. He is the worst human being.

  • http://www.facebook.com/richard.slaven.16 Richard Slaven

    After reading this article I think Sokolove’s firm is one of the best firm. Now as a professional member of http://lawyerredmondattorney.com/ I want to discuss here about personal injury law. I know that many people have no idea about this and they are not getting enough compensation. Remember one-thing only a good lawyer can help an injured person to get enough compensation.

  • Jerry C. Allen

    My wife borrowed our uncle car with permission and was in an accident. we seattle the amount but they are greedy to ask more money. how to handle this case

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