One of the more contentious aspects of law firm operation is the event of a partner leaving the law firm. Both the lawyer and the firm have specific ethical responsibilities to ensure that the rights of the firm, attorney, and most importantly clients, are protected. The bar has maintained that lawyers must keep their clients reasonably informed. In the event of a lawyer leaving the firm, clients must be informed of the withdrawal and it is subsequently their decision whether to stay with the attorney or with the previous firm. The pertinent attorneys or firm cannot make this determination. Not only has the Bar mandated that clients must be reasonably informed of the action, they have also determined specifically which information is necessary to be disclosed. Additionally, trust monies must be accurately accounted for and transferred according to the client’s desires. Once the informed client decides whom to maintain their relationship with, their client files must be transferred in an orderly and timely manner. In order for a firm to ensure they are compliant with existing mandates regarding partner withdrawal, a law office may seek the assistance of an outside law firm.
Michael Steck - JD Business, Non-Profit and Estate lawyer