March 21, 2018 – Are you a solo practitioner? What would happen to your law practice in the event of your death or incapacitation? Do you have a succession plan in place?
Often, the lawyer’s family or support staff are left to deal with the issues that arise when the practice must abruptly close or suspend operations and no succession plan exists. Fortunately, the State Bar of Wisconsin now has a Succession Planning Registry.
In this video, State Bar Law Practice Assistance Manager Christopher Shattuck (Practice 411™) explains how the registry works, with step-by-step instructions on making the election. Attorneys can select a successor attorney to run or close the practice in the event of the attorney’s death, disability, or incapacitation.
Judges, clients, family members and others can submit an online form to the State Bar requesting the successor attorneys name in the event it is unclear. Attorneys can make the confidential successor election by logging into their member profiles on wisbar.org.
The “advanced profile” section allows members to list primary and secondary successors, who have agreed to perform the successor duties contemplated in guidance from the State Bar’s Solo and Small Firm/General Practice Section.
Once a successor is elected, the attorney and the successor(s) will receive an email notification that the election is active, and the election will appear in the successor attorney’s member profile page, accessible to members upon logging in.
If a successor is no longer willing to serve as a successor or someone was named improperly, they named successor should contact the attorney to remove the election or contact the State Bar’s customer service group at (608) 257-3838 or (800) 728-7788.
For more information on the importance of law firm succession planning, read “Lawyer Death or Disability: Who Will Protect Your Clients,” by Shattuck and State Bar Ethics Counsel Aviva Meridian Kaiser. The article appeared this month’s Wisconsin Lawyer.
The article notes that succession planning is crucial for solo practitioners but may also be helpful for lawyers in small firms, where lawyers operate somewhat independently of each other, such as keeping their own calendars or trust accounts.