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Loss Prevention Tip #39

Doing Nothing is Not an Option

It has been estimated that a staggering 1.4 million Canadians will have Alzheimer’s disease and other dementias by 2031. Lawyers of course are not immune to the effects of aging. Whether presented with Alzheimer’s, mild cognitive impairment or dementia, those in management of law firms need to be alert to the changes that may occur as firm members age.
Some of the signs of cognitive impairment to watch for include:

  • Late payments and poor business decisions
  • Loss of skill (bad outcomes, legal errors)
  • Office staff concerns or turnover
  • Lawsuits or complaints to regulatory agencies
  • Dissatisfied clients
  • Professional boundary problems and poor judgment
  • Irritability, impatience, mood swings.

Given that those suffering age-related cognitive impairment are most typically senior and respected members of a firm, every effort should be made to pursue these issues with due tact and concern.

At the same time, doing nothing is not an option when you notice that a colleague appears to be declining in competence. Questions that need to be asked and answered include:

  • What about the effect on the lawyer’s clients?
  • Is the lawyer’s ability to do her job impaired?
  • Can the lawyer still do any kind of legal work? Perhaps with assistance and support?

Your Professional Assistance Program is a good place to turn for support and resources to work through this time of transition for both the individual lawyer and the law firm.
(Excerpt from Issue #58, CLIA Loss Prevention Bulletin)