A Practical Guide to Leaving a Law Firm
Not that many years ago, it was rare to find lawyers moving from one law firm to the other. Today, lawyers are frequently in transition. Associates leave law firms to open their own offices or form partnerships. Partners leave to form new partnerships or go solo. Law firms merge. Law firms dissolve. Since this extreme mobility is such a recent phenomenon, there is a lot of confusion as to the proper way to effect the transitions. The biggest problems are who gets the clients, how to divide the money and potential conflicts of interest.
First and foremost, all lawyers involved should remember that they are professionals and that the interest of the clients come first. Moreover, firms should bear in mind that the clients are ultimately the ones who decide which lawyers will handle their cases.
Second, and just as important, every law firm should make provisions for the future. The solo practitioner should provide for someone to take over the practice at his or her death, retirement or disability. Law firms should make sure each partner, associate, and other principal signs an agreement spelling out, inter alia, severance issues, including who keeps the file.
This online manual is intended to offer guidance to lawyers who find themselves in transition with no prior plans in place. It contains form letters and agreements and provides checklists for the practical aspects of shutting down an office and for handling client issues.
If you have been appointed by Order of the Supreme Court to be a trustee or Attorney to Protect Clients Interests, please view or download the Manual to Assist Attorneys Appointed by the SC Supreme Court.
NEW! The S.C. Supreme Court adopted Rule 1.19, RPC, Rule 407, SCACR: Succession Planning. This rule, which takes effect July 1, 2013, encourages lawyers to prepare written succession plans which include the selection of a successor attorney to assume responsibility for the interests of the lawyer's clients in the event of the lawyer's death or disability from the practice of law. The Bar will maintain the list of successor attorneys. If you would like to submit the name of your successor(s) in advance, you may do so using this form.
- Lawyer Dies
- Lawyer Retires or Quits Practice
- Sample Letters and Forms
So You Are Thinking About Moving - A Primer on Ethical Obligations of Departing Lawyers and Their Firms (Part I)
by Nathan M. Crystal, South Carolina Lawyer, March 2013.
So You Are Thinking About Moving - A Primer on Ethical Obligations of Departing Lawyers and Their Firms (Part II)
by Nathan M. Crystal, South Carolina Lawyer, May 2013.