As a sole practitioner, you have ethical and professional responsibilities to protect your clients if you are suddenly unable to continue practicing law.
There is now available,free of charge, an invaluable resource to assist you in planning ahead for your retirement or inability to practice law, whether by reason of illness or other incapacity. Prepared by the New York State Bar Association’s Committee on Law Practice Continuity, the resource is a 160 page compendium of forms and commentary entitled “Planning Ahead: Establish an Advance Exit Plan to Protect Your Clients’ Interests in the Event of your Disability, Retirement or Death”. Materials included in the Guide are:
• Sample Agreements Appointing Another Attorney to Manage or Close Your Practice
• Special Provisions Regarding Your Practice to Include in your Will
• Sample Letters Advising Your Clients of Your Retirement or Inability to Practice Law
• Authorization Forms for Delivery of Files
• Recommended Checklists for You to Maintain to Assure a Smooth Transition
• Information and Forms on the Sale of a Practice
• References to Relevant Sections of the Code of Professional Responsibility
• Discussion on Trust/ Escrow accounts, File retention, Confidentiality of Client Files, and lots more…..
Download the PDF: Planning Ahead: Establish an Advance Exit Plan to Protect Your Clients’. Resources in this Guide include checklists, forms, frequently asked questions and excerpts from the Code of Professional Responsibility relevant to the management and/or closure of your practice. Hard copies may be purchased from the WCBA (1 North Broadway, Ste. 512, White Plains, NY 10601) for $10.00, if you are a member of the WCBA, and $12.00 if you are not a member of our Association, and included in the book will be a reference CD containing relevant forms. You may purchase the book directly from our online bookstore.
For those of you sole practitioners about to retire, you will need to advise active clients of your retirement, counsel them to obtain a new attorney, and arrange for transfer of their files, including original documents such as wills, trusts and deeds. You will not be successful in contacting everyone. The WCBA has initiated a program to assist you: it now maintains a database of retiring attorneys based on the questionnaire at the link below so that when a client or family member seeks the whereabouts of a legal document, the WCBA can refer to the database. So if you are retiring soon, please take a minute to complete this form and return it to the WCBA, 1 North Broadway, Ste. 512, White Plains, NY 10601, or fax it to (914)-761-9402.
If you are interested in sharing your ideas on advance planning for the sole practitioner and/or joining the Westchester County Bar Association’s Committee on Law Practice Continuity, please contact the chairperson of that Committee, Susan F. Gibralter, Esq. (sgibralter@BertineHufnagel.com).