An unexpected crisis could render you unable to continue working. Even the youngest and healthiest attorneys can’t escape a sudden emergency. However, despite unforeseen events, Father Time marches on and so do court dates and cases.
Whether you are thinking about designating a back-up attorney to cover for you during a short absence, or a successor attorney to take on the responsibility of winding down your practice, there are certain things to consider:
• does the attorney have experience in my area of practice?
• do I need more than one back-up attorney? (If you practice in more than one area, maybe so!)
• does the designated attorney have time (or the ability to make time) to assume my cases?
• will the attorney have a significant number of conflict issues?
Beyond designating a backup/successor attorney, it should be easy for this person to step in and fill your shoes. There should be an easy to understand practice management system in place so they can prioritize work easily. Since the designated attorney will need to review your files, they should be easy to access, thoroughly documented and current. You want to set your back-up attorney up for success. With poorly documented or incomplete files, mistakes can and will be made.
Although the idea of planning for an unexpected crisis or emergency may feel morbid, implementing a practical contingency plan can provide piece of mind, which is priceless.
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