A lawyer has specific responsibility to fulfill when considering closing his/her law practice. In order to ensure that your clients’ interests are protected you should adhere to the following “Closing Your Practice guidelines”.
To schedule a Closing Audit, please contact Pamela Marks, Law Society’s Professional Responsibility Administrator. Ms. Marks will give instructions on the scheduling process. Please allow for a reasonable amount of time to schedule and complete the audit. Ms. Marks can be reached by telephone at 758-0816 or by email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Notification must be given, in a timely manner, to all clients by sending a letter containing the specifics of the closure.
All closed files must be sent to or collected by clients. Arrangements must be made for safe storage or a contact name must be given to the Law Society of Newfoundland and Labrador naming the lawyer in charge of any closed files that remain at the date of closure. This will allow the client to have easy access when he or she is prepared to collect.
With the written permission from the client, all open files must be transferred to another lawyer or personally collected by the client so that the client can retain another lawyer.
When closing a law practice, lawyers must be mindful of the fact that all trust funds must be accounted for and either transferred to another lawyer or returned to clients, if requested and appropriate. Following notice to clients that you are closing your practice, if a client wishes to have his or her file and remaining trust monies transferred to a lawyer selected either by him or her or by you, you are required to follow the client’s instructions. If a client wishes to have his or her file and remaining trust monies returned, you are also required to follow the client’s instructions, pending any unresolved disputes related to the monies. In some cases, trust monies may have to be paid into Court pending resolution of any dispute. Please note that any final statement of account rendered to the client can be subject to taxation.
Once the foregoing matters have been considered the requirement is under the Law Society Rules to file Form Form 2.20A , Notice of Change in Association of Practice, or Form 2.19A, Application for Non-Practicing Status or to Resign Membership with the Law Society of Newfoundland and Labrador. These forms can be found on the Law Society’s website or by contacting Erin Rowe at 758-0814 or by email to email@example.com.
Fulfilling these obligations may take some time so please bear this in mind when contemplating leaving practice. Consideration should be given, in advance, to an appropriate succession plan to be employed in the event that you are no longer able or wish to practice. Advance planning is very important. A well-planned winding up is in the best interests of your clients and is preferable to having the Law Society seek custodianship of your practice.
Please feel free to contact the Law Society of Newfoundland and Labrador at 722-4740 should you have any questions or concerns regarding any of the issues covered in this guideline.