What should I consider when closing my practice?
When you start preparations for closing your practice and/or your retirement, you need to follow these steps:
The first step is to review The Rules Regulating The Florida Bar Rule 4-5.8 Procedures for Lawyers Leaving Law Firms and Dissolution of Law Firms. This rule will walk you through all of your procedural obligations while closing your firm.
Notify our Membership Records office of your retirement date in writing. However, their phone number is (850) 561-5832. Retired lawyers pay no dues. They are continued in the Bar’s database (the “Find a Lawyer” feature on our website), but are clearly listed as “retired.” If you instead wish to choose Inactive status, there are reduced dues for that distinction. Many retiring lawyers actually choose inactive status because they may wish to change their status in the future back to active status in order to handle a few cases from time to time as Of Counsel to their law firm.
The client notification letter should be sent to all the firm’s active clients whose matters you worked on, not only to let them know about your retirement, but also to tell them who will be taking over their legal matters. The letter should remind clients that while the firm wishes to continue the relationship the client must choose whom they wish to represent them. Consequently, there may be several letters you would draft. That is, some clients the firm may not want to (or can’t) continue to work with, while others the firm wishes to continue with (and is able). Insofar as the clients hired the firm and not any one particular lawyer, whether to notify clients whose matters are closed is at the discretion of the firm — whatever makes sense for the firm and the former client.
The LegalFuel Checklist For Lawyer Retirement, Law Office Closure, Or Law Firm Dissolution is located on our website. It addresses retirement, closing an office or law firm that has more items to consider that are mostly internal to the law firm or the retiring lawyer’s status.
You should also review The Florida Bar Ethics Informational Packet Notifying Clients of Change in Firm Composition. This packet will walk you through additional obligations, processes, and tasks to take while closing your firm. Specifically, this packet will address your obligations to notify clients of the firms closing as well as providing sample forms to use to notify the clients.