Informal Opinion Number: 990177

Rules: 4-1.17
Client-Lawyer Relationship
Sale of Law Practice
Summary: sale of law practice

QUESTION: Attorney plans to retire from the practice of law in the next few months. Attorney would appreciate any comments, recommendations, or advice that OCDC may have for Attorney as to Attorney´s responsibilities to clients and others in that regard.
ANSWER: Based upon Attorney´s letter, it sounds as though Attorney is planning to wind up Attorney´s practice, rather than selling it. If Attorney decides to sell Attorney´s practice, Rule 4-1.17 provides considerable detail regarding the steps to follow. The Missouri Bar has resources available through its Law Practice Management library which can help Attorney identify the steps Attorney should follow in winding up a practice. Attorney can contact The Missouri Bar at 573-635-4128. The original of the files belongs to the clients. Attorney should take steps to return those files to the clients or obtain their consent to handle them in a different manner, if Attorney has not already done so. By winding up Attorney´s practice, Attorney will be withdrawing from any pending matters. Attorney may not withdraw at a time when withdrawal will have a material adverse affect on the client. One way to avoid this is to provide ample notice to Attorney´s clients and to make sure they are aware of the anticipated future course of their case or other matter. This communication should clearly communicate any settings, deadlines, etc.

Informal Opinions are ethics advisory opinions issued by the Office of Legal Ethics Counsel to members of the Bar about Rule 4 (Rules of Professional Conduct), Rule 5 (Complaints and Proceedings Thereon), and Rule 6 (Fees to Practice Law) pursuant to Missouri Supreme Court Rule 5.30(c). Written summaries of select Informal Opinions are published for informational purposes as determined by the Advisory Committee of the Supreme Court of Missouri pursuant to Rule 5.30(c). Informal opinion summaries are advisory in nature and are not binding. These opinions are published as an educational service and do not constitute legal advice.

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