DSCN8455The fast-paced existence of most lawyers seldom allows much time for personal future planning. Yet wouldn’t any self-respecting lawyer want to make sure they have the final word on how they eventually end their practice? In truth, even if you swear you will never retire, the very nature of life allows no one to practice forever.*  Failure to plan for the inevitable can bring harm to clients, not to mention stress and inconvenience to partners and loved ones. And while Rule 27 of the Minnesota Rules on Lawyer Professional Responsibility allows a trustee appointment for a lawyer who cannot properly discharge duties to clients due to “disability, disappearance or death,” the best way to protect your clients (and loved ones) against such unforseeables is to have a written contingency plan already in place.

This subject is all the more crucial for solo practitioners. Rule 1.3 of the Minnesota Rules of Professional Conduct states that “[a] lawyer shall act with reasonable diligence and promptness in representing a client.” Comment [5] specifically warns that “[to] prevent neglect of client matters in the event of a sole practitioner’s death or disability, the duty of diligence may require that each sole practitioner prepare a plan, in conformity with applicable rules, that designates another competent lawyer to review client files, notify each client of the lawyer’s death or disability, and determine whether there is a need for immediate protective action.”

So with this in mind, the Law Librarian offers some material to assist lawyers with their own future planning :

  • K. William Gibson (ed.),  Flying Solo : A Survival Guide for the Solo and Small Firm Lawyer  (5th ed. 2015).  This new edition of Flying Solo provides its usual time-tested answers to real-life questions, with its primary focus on the practical matters of starting a law practice.  Special emphasis here is given to the chapter “When I Die, Part II.”  Here are detailed instructions for how to plan a special instructional notebook to assist survivors in the unfortunate event of your untimely disability or demise.
  •  Peter A. Giuliani, Passing the Torch Without Getting Burned:  A Guide to Law Firm Retirement and Succession Planning (2013).  This book is meant to identify the economic variables and issues that must be considered for retirement from the perspective of law partnerships and firms.    It analyzes such retirement policies as “emeritus status” arrangements, mandatory retirements, and compensation packages.  It also information on how to gracefully bow out of a partnership, versus how and when to dissolve or sell the partnership.
  •  Susan A. Berson, The Lawyer’s Retirement Planning Guide (2010).  This practical book looks at retirement’s more personal angle, with guidance on investing your money  and managing your retirement withdrawals.  It also includes health tips for longetivity and advice for handling family finances.  In short, this is a book of practical advice on long-term planning that everyone should consider, and not just lawyers.

*On a related note: The Ramsey County Bar Association (RCBA) will hold its annual memorial service for recently-deceased lawyers next week.

 

 

Leave a Reply