what to tell clients when a lawyer leaves

by Paolo Ledner 9 min read

Full Answer

How to inform your clients when leaving a law firm?

Inform your clients when leaving a law firm Refrain from telling your clients you’re leaving until after you’ve given your notice. Work with the firm on a communications plan so that you clients are not caught by surprise after the fact.

What are the responsibilities of a law firm when a lawyer leaves?

These include the duty of communication and the responsibility to enact reasonable notification periods for lawyers who are leaving their firms. Furthermore, law firms cannot restrict departing lawyers’ access to files or support staff to the extent necessary to provide diligent representation to clients.

What are a lawyer’s duties to former clients?

49 Rule 4-1.9, Duties to Former Clients, Comment [4], acknowledges the competing interests involved when a lawyer ends an association with a firm and considers undertaking representation of a client previously represented by the former firm.

How do I write an email to clients telling them I'm Leaving?

An email telling clients you're leaving typically concludes with: Based on your relationship with the client, you may choose to include your personal email address, professional networking profile or phone number.


What is it called when a lawyer drops a client?

Withdrawal from representation, in United States law, occurs where an attorney terminates a relationship of representing a client.

What do I say when quitting a law firm?

Regardless of how you give your notice, it's wise to write a formal resignation letter that: Clearly states your reason for leaving. Outlines your notice period. Thank the company and your manager/team for the opportunity to grow and learn.

Can lawyers poach clients?

Stealing clients from the firm can be a breach of fiduciary duty. Take, for example, the case of the Dowd and Dowd firm. When two partners decided to leave, they used confidential information to secure funding for a new firm, secretly contacted clients, and poached employees.

What is a lawyers obligation to their client?

These principles include the lawyer's obligation zealously to protect and pursue a client's legitimate interests, within the bounds of the law, while maintaining a professional, courteous and civil attitude toward all persons involved in the legal system.

When should you tell clients you're leaving?

An ideal time to let them know about your resignation is after you give your two weeks' notice and understand the details of the transition process. This way, you can answer any questions your client may have and allow your company time to begin searching for your successor.

How do I resign gracefully?

6 tips for leaving your job gracefullyGive sufficient notice. ... Tell your manager face-to-face. ... Have a direct and professional conversation. ... Submit a formal resignation letter. ... Make the transition as smooth as possible. ... Say farewell but keep in touch.

How can we stop poaching clients?

A non-solicitation agreement is an in-depth way to cover poaching. With a non-solicitation agreement, you specifically ask contractors to sign an agreement stating they won't solicit your company's clients or employees up to a designated time period following their work with your business.

Which title is most like not acceptable for a paralegal?

Which title is most likley to be NOT acceptable for a paralegal? Associate.

What does it mean to solicit clients?

The term usually refers to directly asking potential customers to purchase goods or services, rather than using advertisements. Freelance contractors and other independent business owners often engage in solicitation to seek new customers.

What are the four responsibilities of lawyers?

It describes the sources and broad definitions of lawyers' four responsibilities: duties to clients and stakeholders; duties to the legal system; duties to one's own institution; and duties to the broader society.

Do lawyers ever lie to their clients?

In California, the Rules of Professional Conduct govern a lawyer's ethical duties. The law prohibits lawyers from engaging in dishonesty.

What is it called when a lawyer doesn't do his job?

Legal malpractice is a type of negligence in which a lawyer does harm to his or her client. Typically, this concerns lawyers acting in their own interests, lawyers breaching their contract with the client, and, one of the most common cases of legal malpractice, is when lawyers fail to act on time for clients.

Why do lawyers retain names?

However, the lawyer may retain the “names and contact information for clients for whom the departing lawyer worked while at the firm in order to determine conflicts of interests at the departing lawyer’s new firm and comply with other applicable ethical or legal requirements.

What is the duty of a departing lawyer?

The departing lawyer must assist in the organization and updating of client files. The lawyer must also return all firm property, both intellectual and physical. The lawyer should cooperate with the firm to delete or return all electronic and paper client data, including data on the lawyer’s personal electronic devices.

What is a departing lawyer's notice period?

The policy may require departing lawyers to observe a specified notification period prior to departure. Such a notice period helps to ensure that the departing lawyer and the firm can cooperate to provide an orderly transition for all client matters.

Why should law firms review their policies?

Law firms should review their policies to determine whether they address the issues that arise when a lawyer departs. Both law firms and departing lawyers should heed the ABA’s message that they should cooperate in order to serve their clients’ best interests, whether the clients stay or go.

Can a lawyer notify clients of a departure?

Although the Model Rules do not prohibit the lawyer from unilaterally notifying clients of the departure, ideally the firm and departing lawyer would jointly communicate with the clients “with whom the departing lawyer has had significant contact.”. The departing lawyer and firm may notify clients separately but must not make false ...

Can a lawyer leave a law firm?

Many lawyers may find themselves ready to leave their current law firm and either move on to a different firm or start out on their own. Either way there is always the issue of how to handle current clients and cases.

Can a departing lawyer solicit clients?

The departing lawyer and firm may notify clients separately but must not make false or misleading statements. The firm may not prohibit the departing lawyer from soliciting firm clients. The clients must be given the option of remaining with the firm, going with the departing attorney, or choosing another attorney.

What are the duties of a lawyer?

Departing lawyers and their firms have a duty under Rules 4-1.6 and 4-1.9 to protect the confidentiality of information related to the representation of current and former clients of the firm. The lawyer also has an ongoing obligation not to enter an affiliation with a new firm under circumstances that would result in a violation of the duties owed to clients and former clients under Rule 4-1.7 (Conflict of Interest: Current Clients) and Rule 4-1.9 (Duties to Former Clients). 49

What are the obligations of a departing lawyer?

A departing lawyer and the lawyers remaining at a firm have ethical and legal obligations to firm clients and to each other, and both the firm and departing lawyer have legitimate business interests in the future practice of law. These duties and interests may be difficult to harmonize.

Why do lawyers have a fiduciary duty?

Because firm lawyers have a fiduciary duty to treat each other fairly and honestly, 16 most ethics advice strongly encourages lawyers to notify the firm of an impending departure before notifying clients. 17.

What is a notice to clients in Cupples?

The notice may be written, personal, or “by some other means,” provided it is “professional in nature and content,” avoids solicitation, and assists the client in exercising its right to choose its counsel. 33

What is the importance of understanding relevant ethics obligations?

Understanding relevant ethics obligations is a necessary step in reconciling lawyers’ departure-related duties, but it does not end the inquiry. Where ethics rules are silent, applicable law may impose duties.

What is notice of a lawyer's departure?

Notice of a lawyer’s departure from a firm need not be given to former clients of the departing lawyer or to all clients of the firm. Notice is to be provided to current clients for whom the lawyer has provided “material representation,” for it is those clients for whom the lawyer’s departure occasions a “material change” in the circumstances of the representation. 18 Other ethics advice describes the proper recipients of notice as clients with whom the departing lawyer has had “significant client contact.” 19 Because of the importance of providing clients with notice, it is advisable in a questionable case to err on the side of caution by informing the client. 20

What are the rules of professional conduct for lawyers?

36 Rule 4-1.1 requires competent representation of the client, and Rule 4-1.3 requires that the representation be provided with diligence. Rule 4-5.1 requires partners and other supervisory lawyers in a firm to make reasonable efforts to ensure the firm has polices in place assuring all lawyers within the firm provide competent and diligent representation and comply with all other duties in the Rules of Professional Conduct. The rule further requires lawyers in a firm with direct supervisory authority over another lawyer to make reasonable efforts to ensure the supervised lawyer complies with the rules, and under certain circumstances, a managerial lawyer can be responsible for misconduct of a lawyer under the manager’s supervision. 37

What is the starting point of a law firm?

First, the Starting Point: Your Clients’ Interests Must Come First. You have a duty to protect your clients’ interests at all times during any transitions, and so does your future-former firm. This duty is not mitigated by your individual business considerations, by your old law firm’s interests, or by your new law firm’s interests.

What happens if you leave a partnership before the notice period expires?

This means that if you leave before the notice period expires, you may be creating exposure for a claim for breach of contract, ...

Do you have to tell your firm about your departure?

Second, You Have Duties to Your Old Firm. If you are a partner at the firm, you may have a fiduciary duty to tell your firm about your departure before you tell anyone else. This means that if you tell your clients or tell your team and staff before you tell your firm, you may be creating exposure for a claim for breach of fiduciary duty.

What to do before leaving a law firm?

Before you leave your law firm, make sure there is a transition plan in place. Brief your team on current matters and cases to ensure they have everything they need to successfully represent clients.

Why do lawyers leave law firms?

Why lawyers leave law firms. The legal profession is stressful— the demands for results and high performance are constant. Combined with the competitive nature of the legal industry, lawyers can feel the stress is pushing them over the brink.

How much notice do you need to give a law firm?

The law firm also needs a short-term and long-term plan to backfill your position. If possible, it’s wise to give more than two weeks’ notice, so your team has a little breathing room to manage the transition. 5. Give notice the right way.

How long do you have to give notice to a law firm?

Your employment contract may already have a clause about how much notice you need to give before resigning. However, the standard notice time is typically two weeks. There are many moving parts to a transition at a law firm.

What does it mean to work at a law firm?

Working at a law firm means being aware of confidential information regarding client cases, partner responsibilities, and trade secrets about the firm. Before leaving, make sure you understand the rules and obligations about what you can say or can’t say after your departure.

How to write a formal resignation letter?

Regardless of how you give your notice, it’s wise to write a formal resignation letter that: 1 Clearly states your reason for leaving 2 Outlines your notice period 3 Thank the company and your manager/team for the opportunity to grow and learn 4 Is concise and positive

Why do I leave a law firm?

After giving notice, the firm may ask you to leave right away to protect confidential information or other reasons, depending on your firm’s policies.

When a departing lawyer was a client's primary attorney, should firms not assign new lawyers?

This means that when a departing lawyer was a client’s primary attorney, firms should not assign new lawyers and try to displace the departing lawyer “absent client direction or exigent circumstances arising from a lawyer’s immediate departure from the firm and imminent deadlines needing to be addressed for the client.”.

What is the role of law firm management in Model Rule 5.1?

The opinion emphasizes that law firm management has obligations under Model Rule 5.1 to establish “reasonable procedures and policies to assure the ethical transition of client matters when lawyers elect to change firms.”

What is formal ethics opinion?

Formal ethics opinion offers guidance. Lawyers who leave their firms and their departing firms have ethical obligations toward the clients of the departing lawyers. These include the duty of communication and the responsibility to enact reasonable notification periods for lawyers who are leaving their firms.

Can a law firm divide up clients?

The opinion emphasizes that clients determine who will represent them, not anyone else. “Law firms and lawyers may not divide up clients when a law firm dissolves or a lawyer transitions to another firm,” the opinion states. This means that when a departing lawyer was a client’s primary attorney, firms should not assign new lawyers ...

Can a law firm force a departing lawyer to work remotely?

This means that the firm cannot force the departing lawyer to work remotely or at home.

Can a law firm restrict access to email?

Law firms also “cannot prohibit or restrict access to email, voicemail, files and electronic court-filing systems where such systems are necessary” for the departing lawyer to “represent clients competently and diligently during the notice period.”. Give us feedback, share a story tip or update, or report an error.

Can a law firm require a notification period?

No Unreasonable Notice Periods. Law firms have an ethical obligation not to impose notification requirements on departing lawyers that would thwart client choice of counsel or prohibit departing lawyers from providing diligent representation to clients during transition periods, according to the opinion.

How to let clients know you're moving on?

You can follow these steps to let your clients know you're moving on: 1. Talk to your manager . Some companies have a specific protocol about letting clients know that a point of contact is leaving, so it's crucial to check with your manager to confirm that you understand the process. For example, your manager may act as an intermediary by notifying ...

When you leave client facing, what is the importance of it?

When you decide to leave a client-facing position, it's crucial to let your clients know. Understanding the right way to inform your clients that you're moving on can help make their transition to a new client relations manager easier, maintain your professional reputation and ensure you retain your clients as useful contacts for future endeavors.

How to maintain a positive relationship with a client after you move on?

To ensure you maintain a positive relationship with the client after you've moved on, it's helpful to maintain the same style of communication. For example, if you typically chatted with the client in a collaborative, personal tone, use the same writing style when letting them know you're leaving. Focus on the positive.

What to do when you decide to resign?

When you decide to resign, it's essential to let your clients know ahead of time. Many consider it standard practice and good etiquette, especially when ending long-term client relationships. By allowing for a transition period, you can also: Provide your clients with your personal contact information to keep in touch.

How to introduce a replacement to a former client?

You can introduce your replacement to your former client by providing a name, contact information and a recommendation. For example, you might assure them that your successor is highly capable of managing the account, has excellent client-facing skills and has extensive experience in the industry.

How to maintain a professional connection with a client?

Regardless of your relationship with the client, you can maintain them as a professional connection by letting them know you're thankful for the time you worked together. If it's relevant to your client, you can also include what you may miss about working with them. Proofread your email.