No one wants to think about something bad happening that could cause us not to be able to practice law any longer. But bad things do happen, and we have an ethical obligation to our clients to protect their interests, not only as we actively practice law, but also when we die, or become disabled, impaired, or incapacitated.
When a solo practitioner dies or becomes disabled, his or her clients do not have the protection of a law partner of the deceased or disabled attorney simply stepping in to take over their cases or to ensure that copies of their files are returned to the clients so that they can seek out new counsel. Instead, solo practitioners must make arrangements for someone to come in and address all the intricacies of winding down a law practice. Clients must be notified of their attorney’s death or disability. The status of active files must be assessed and notices given to opposing counsel and the court so that matters such as hearings, trials, and depositions can be reset. Client files must be copied and delivered so that the client can retain new counsel. Trust funds must be returned, vendors and employees paid, and accounts closed. The list goes on and on.
You have the responsibility of safeguarding your clients’ interests. Let me help you meet your ethical obligations while also making your practice an asset which could be sold to benefit you or your estate. Contact me today! 406-752-1100 or [email protected]
 MRPC 1.3: A lawyer shall act with reasonable diligence and promptness in representing a client. Comment 5 of Rule 1.3 states: 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.