Closing a Practice

Protecting the Client's Interests in the Event of the Lawyer's Death or Disability


Watch "Exiting Your Practice," a spotlight CLE with information on exit options for your practice, inlcuding the valuation and sale of your practice.


The WSBA provides this information as a convenience for members seeking guidance on the best way to close a practice when retiring or to assist a survivor of a deceased or disabled lawyer in closing a practice. For more information see ABA Formal Opinion 92-369.

The first step in planning process is for the lawyer to find another lawyer willing and able to be the assisting lawyer in the event of death, disability, impairment or incapacity of the requesting lawyer.

A written consent form should be signed authorizing the assisting lawyer to contact clients for instructions on transferring their files, authorization to obtain extensions of time in litigation and general authorization to do anything necessary to close the practice, such as winding down financial affairs, providing final accounting to clients, collecting fees and selling the practice.

Allowing access to the trust account is a serious matter. Careful consideration should be made of the person to handle the account. If you give some one control of the trust account, you as the lawyer remain responsible. If the assisting person misappropriates money, the lawyer or his estate may be held responsible.

Download Forms and Materials

[Note: These materials are based upon a booklet published by the Oregon State Bar Professional Liability Fund entitled Planning Ahead: A Guide to Protecting Your Clients' Interests in the Event of Your Death or Disability, which has been edited for Washington lawyers.]

Voluntarily Closing Your Practice

Contact LOMAP for guidance about the nuances and timing of these steps, and use the Checklist for Closing Your Own Office.



Exiting Your Practice

When it is time to leave your business, what will you do? This spotlight CLE will cover some of the basics for exiting your law practice.
  1. What are some exit options? Leave, sell or gift
  2. Find out how to determine the value of the business
  3. How to sell? Hire someone or do it yourself?
  4. Learn about sale agreements and financing

Speaker: Jessica McKeegan Jensen — Jessica Jensen Law PD, Olympia 

Guide to Best Practices for Client File Retention and Management

Resources

Checklist for Closing Another Attorney's Office 

Checklist for Lawyers Planning to Protect Clients' Interests in the Event of the Lawyer's Death, Disability, Impairment, or Incapacity
 

Publications

The Lawyer's Guide to Buying, Selling, Merging, and Closing a Law

Financial Planning For You & Your Clients (What Every Lawyer Should Know About Insurance, Investments, Estate Planning & Taxes)

 

ABA Resources

Planning for the Lawyers Retirement, Disability, or Death

See the ABA GP|Solo Magazine focus issue on buying or selling a law practice.