Sunday, March 19, 2017

When the story ends... (Ethics opinion on firm dissolutions)

"Dissolving Firms Must Still Put Clients First, DC Bar Says"
  • "Despite numerous requirements facing attorneys during a law firm’s dissolution, the principal obligation for lawyers and the firm during the process must be to focus on the present and future needs of their clients, a new ethics opinion released Friday by the D.C. Bar said."
  • "The D.C. Bar said attorneys must not only attempt to see current matters through to completion, if possible, but are required fulfill their ethical obligation to notify clients of the impending dissolution. The opinion said a significant amount of responsibility in terms of client notification and representation also falls on the firms themselves, as in most cases they are the signatories of engagement letters with clients, not their attorneys."
  • "The ethics opinion addressed the responsibility of client notification in the event of a law firm dissolution. While it is difficult to pin down an exact time after a dissolution decision to inform clients, the bar said law firms must do so in a “timely” manner to comply with the D.C. Bar rules of professional conduct."
  • "The bar went on to say that this notice should be given to allow a client enough time to plan its next move as to future representation, especially when a matter is pending. Additionally, the opinion stated that notification should be given to all clients that could be affected by the dissolution. The bar said this even includes clients with inactive matters and closed files, as long as the files have been closed for less than five years, or in the event that the property held contains some sort of intrinsic value like a will or stock certificates."
Full text of the opinion at the DC Bar web site.

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