A New Look at Why Succession Planning is a Must for Lawyers

  • October 13, 2023
  • Lisa Laredo, principal at Laredo Law

Lawyers need to practice what they preach and implement a succession plan that kicks in when they are no longer willing or able to continue in the profession.

Sole and small-firm practitioners have no problem telling their clients to get an estate plan in place to ensure their family and friends are properly provided for after they are gone.

Yet I wonder how many of them have their own succession plans – in my own experience, surprisingly few have considered what would happen to their client files and records is they were unexpectedly unable to continue practising because of an accident, incapacity or even death.  

I understand that succession planning will be difficult for many lawyers – particularly practitioners who are older or located in more remote areas of the province – but it is absolutely necessary in the interest of the public.

When a lawyer ceases the provision of legal services without the appropriate arrangements in place to wind up their business, their clients may not be the only ones left in the lurch as court appearances are missed, deals fail to close and trust funds remain out of reach; the lawyer’s own family and friends could also be dragged into legal proceedings if the licensee’s estate ends up being on the hook for the firm’s liabilities.   

Right now, it’s the Law Society of Ontario’s Trustee Services department that picks up the pieces in cases like this, stepping in to protect client files, trust funds, and other documents.