Quick Tips for Law Practice Succession Planning


"Our clients, for whom we have worked so hard, deserve something better than absolute chaos if we are suddenly disabled or die. Our loved ones do not deserve the headaches and worry of winding up a law practice at a time when they may be feeling emotionally and financially vulnerable, grieving or themselves incapable of handling the stress of business matters." -Honorable Ellen Peck, CA State Bar Court Judge


Long before you need a succession plan, it is important to work with your LIFT or legal, insurance, financial and tax advisors to ensure your firm is set up for success, even when you can't be there due to incapacity or death.


The American Bar Association recommends that all firms have a succession plan that includes the following information:

  • Written instructions concerning how and where client information is stored, including bank and other account details (e.g., operating and trust account information );

  • Information concerning disposition of closed client files, information about law office equipment leases or other contracts;

  • Information regarding payment of current liabilities;

  • Instructions to gain access to computer and voicemail passwords; and

  • Information detailing how the successor will be compensated.

(See http://bit.ly/ABA_Succession_Planning )


The California State Bar recommends using their sample Agreement to Close Law Practice in the Future as a part of your firm's Succession Plan: http://bit.ly/CaBarSampleAgreement. The State Bar also has guidelines for closing or selling a law practice: http://bit.ly/CaBarGuidelines.


There are many ways to prepare your succession plan depending on the level of privacy versus court involvement you want and your estate planning attorney can assist you to determine what is best for your situation. Practice succession planning ranges from doing nothing, which results in the likelihood of malpractice suits, losing your license and having the state bar take over and dismantle everything you've worked for, while providing public reports to the Court to comprehensive planning that will ensure that you chose who you want taking over for you in your absense, well taken care of clients, maintenance of firm assets and privacy. We are here to help you decide what's best for you, your loved ones and your practice. Let us know if we can help.


To learn more about our one-of-a-kind systems and services, contact our office to schedule a free personal Whole Family Life & Legacy Class or a Life & Legacy Planning Session™ today.


This article is a service of Sarah J. Nowels, Personal Family Lawyer®. At SJN Law, we don’t just draft documents; we ensure you make informed and empowered decisions about life and death, for yourself and the people you love. That's why we offer a Life & Legacy Planning Session, ™ during which you will get more financially organized than you’ve ever been before, and make all the best choices for the people you love. You can begin by calling our office at (714)692-1738, texting Sarah at (949) 498-2203 emailing Sarah at sarah@sjn-law.com today to schedule a Family Wealth Planning Session and mention this article to find out how to get this $750 session at no charge and have your $750 deposit refunded or credited to your plan. We also pride ourselves on our continued service in seeking justice on behalf of employees whose civil rights have been violated. While we only take a couple of these cases at a time to maintian a high quality of service to our clients, if we can't help you, we will do what we can to provide you with guidance.

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