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Partner Leaves Friendly Departure Checklist
PARTNER LEAVES - FRIENDLY DEPARTURE - A CHECKLIST
 
 
Review Partnership Agreement for fee arrangements and abide by the agreement.
 
Within a law firm, partners and employees are bound by a departing lawyer's duty to protect confidences and secrets. See Rules 1.6 and 1.8(b), SCRPC.
 
The firm must inform departing partner's clients of the imminent departure in writing and explain that the clients have the right to choose which lawyer will continue with their cases. It is best if these letters are Joint Letters from the law firm and the departing partner. The letters must inform clients of time limitations and time frames and where they can pick up files. See Rule 1.4, SCRPC.

 

 Work with accountant:
 
Prepare accounts for work-in-progress and, with the accountant's assistance, prepare outstanding disbursements to date for all files for the departing partner to the date of termination.
 
Refer to the provisions in the contingency fee agreement if the billing is on a contingency fee basis.
 
If the contingency fee does not provide for the departure of the partner, try to make arrangements with the client and the new lawyer.
 
If arrangements cannot be made, quantum meruit arguments will have to be made.
 
For files not billed on a time or contingency basis, an agreement must be reached on the division of the work-in-progress up to the time of the partner's departure and the work-in-progress thereafter.
 
Note any outstanding accounts and accounts receivable generated by the departure of the partner. These outstanding accounts will necessarily be collected over a period of time - consider how these will be collected, by whom, what records will be kept and by whom, who has access to the records and how the proceeds, less costs of collections, are to be distributed.

Miscellaneous:
 
For each active file being transferred to another lawyer, the departing partner must prepare a detailed memo on the nature of the file and the work that remains to be done on it, prominently noting upcoming activity and deadlines.
 
If imminent deadlines or other crucial matters are coming up, discuss how to proceed with the client and the lawyer who will be assuming the file. Where appropriate, obtain continuances, extensions, or motions to substitute counsel and notify client and opposing counsel.
 
Legal Aid (Judicare) cases are not transferrable. If the departing partner is the lawyer handling the Judicare case and the lawyer is not taking the case with him or her, contact legal aid, which will make a new referral.
 
Change letterhead, business cards, and signs, if necessary.
 
Mediate or arbitrate any issues that cannot be resolved. It is best to keep disagreements within the confines of the law firm if at all possible.