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Little more than a week after the disaster, competition among lawyers to represent the families of 29 men killed in the Upper Big Branch Mine disaster has begun.

Massey Energy, the mine's owner, has deep pockets. Lawyers who represent the families could make millions in fees if they can prove company management showed a conscious and deliberate disregard for safety.

Massey has repeatedly denied all such accusations.

At least one well-known local lawyer questioned whether it's proper to seek clients so soon after the tragedy and said he could not bring himself to do it.

Law firms take so-called wrongful death cases for free. Losers earn nothing. Winners typically receive one-third of the amount awarded by the court.

On Tuesday, before all of the miners who died in the blast were buried, Underwood Law Offices, headquartered in Huntington, ran an advertisement in the Charleston newspapers and papers in the coalfields urging families of the miners to call the firm.

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