Attorney separation agreements may require that a lawyer give reasonable notice to his firm before resignation, reducing conflict with departing lawyers.
Lawyers may agree in advance how they will handle such issues as billing, transfer of file responsibilities and return of equipment.
Joint notice to clients by the law firm and the departing lawyer is the preferred method of advising clients of an attorney’s departure from the firm.
Attorney separation agreements that contain provisions for a minimum notice period before an attorney’s resignation and other terms for notice, transfer of files and billing should be common. They are not, and it is likely bad for the clients and the firm.
The free-for-all that may follow a resignation is something that can be avoided, and a recent opinion of the ABA’s standing committee holds that the minimum notice requirement is ethical as long as it does not restrict competition by the departing lawyer or limit the client’s ability to choose counsel.
Separation Agreements to Manage Lawyer Resignations
What would such an agreement look like? We suggest that the following issues should be addressed whether dealing with withdrawing principals or resigning attorneys.
Minimum Notice to Law Firm of Intended Departure
In many circumstances the withdrawal of a senior lawyer from a law firm for another practice is a process that is implemented over weeks or months. The orderly transition of files by a process that is mutually acceptable to everyone involved serves a number of interests held by all involved, particularly the clients. Continue reading