Law Firm Succession Planning (Ethical Issues)
Why You Should Attend
Life can throw curveballs at us quickly and unexpectedly. A serious illness or injury – to ourselves or an immediate family member – can mean having to suddenly walk away from a law practice, whether long term or even permanently. If that happened to you, do you have a plan in place? Will your client matters be transitioned and handled properly? Will those working for you get paid? Will you (or your family) get your share of any unpaid or residual fees that come due?
Lawyers have an ethical obligation to diligently handle client matters, and to assure the efficient transition of those matters should they become disabled or die. Despite this obligation, many attorneys do not have succession plans in place, and many states do not specifically require attorneys to have such a plan or to designate a successor attorney. For solo and small firm practitioners in particular, an unanticipated closing of a practice can result in adverse, unethical, and even dire financial consequences to the attorney, their family, colleagues, and their clients. Don’t let that happen to you!
What You Will Learn
In this one-hour ethics CLE, Attorney Daniel J. Siegel, Chair of the Pennsylvania Bay Association Committee on Legal Ethics and Professional Responsibility, whose practice focuses on professional responsibility and law firm technology will discuss the applicable Pennsylvania Rules of Professional Conduct implicated by the duty to have a succession plan, including Rule 1.3 (Diligence), Rule 1.15 (Safekeeping of Property), and Rule 1.17 (Sale of a Law Practice). He will also outline the basics of lawyer succession planning, including:
- transition of active matters, including documenting what events can trigger a transition and the scope of work
- transition of closed files and firm data
- compensation for successor counsel, including fee division agreements
- best practices, such as creating office manuals with key information and maintaining an up-to-date calendar of deadlines
This webcast on law firm succession planning will benefit all lawyers in the private sector, regardless of firm size or practice area.