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Written contingency plans essential for sole practitioners

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Attorneys who work as sole practitioners often carry a significant amount of weight, as they are charged with knowing and managing all of their clients independently. This can become a problem if the attorney becomes ill, disabled or passes away. It may also open the door to potential lawsuits, should a client's case be mismanaged due to an attorney's lack of planning for the possibility that they would be unable to perform their duties.

A solution to this problem, according to Wisconsin Lawyer, is to have a solid contingency succession plan in effect, so death or disability does not significantly disrupt a client's case.

Within this plan, the source says, it is important to identify either another sole practitioner or law firm that would be willing to take over clients. Important factors in the selection process may include finding a group that shares the values of the firm, is familiar with the practice area, may be able to maintain the commitment in the long term and can ensure that the firm's assets are not lost.

In addition, the source suggests that proper agreements be drawn up, both with the colleague who would handle the practitioner's clients in the future, as well as the clients, who should be informed of who may take over their case in the event of an emergency.

Should an emergency situation arise before a contingency plan is drawn up, having professional liability insurance may assist with any financial concerns resulting from upset clients.

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