Ethics FAQs
May a lawyer who is leaving the practice of law transfer closed files to another lawyer without the consent of each client?
Answer: Rule 1.17 (Sale of Law Practice) governs such transfers despite the fact that the files are being transferred for no consideration and there is no true sale.  The rule is intended to protect the interests of clients, which are unaffected by the lack of consideration in the exchange.  The files can be transferred provided that each requirement of Rule 1.17 is met.  Rule 1.17(c) does contemplate client consent but states that consent is presumed if notice (conforming to subpart (c)) is sent and the client does not object within 90 days.  Subpart (d)(4) specifically allows for the transfer of inactive files, requiring the same notice to those clients as provided in subpart (c).

The Committee also advises that lawyers in this circumstance pay attention to the requirement of Rule 417(e) regarding arrangements for retention of financial records as required by subpart (a) of that rule.