Your Coverage and Succession Plan continued
Here are some things to consider when making your succession or coverage plan:
- It is essential that you comply with all the ethical requirements governing the practice of law. You must ensure that your clients' confidences are protected and consent has been obtained from your clients in circumstances where someone oversees your practice or you oversee another lawyer's practice. Familiarize yourself with your obligations under the Code of Professional Conduct, which require you to report to LSBC another lawyer's breach of undertaking that has not been consented to or waived by the recipient of the undertaking, a shortage of trust funds, the abandonment of a law practice, participation in criminal activity related to a lawyer's practice, the mental instability of a lawyer of such a nature that the lawyer’s clients are likely to be materially prejudiced, conduct that raises substantial questions as to the other lawyer's honesty and trustworthiness as a lawyer, and any other situation in which a lawyer’s clients are likely to be materially prejudiced.
- Never sign blank cheques for use during your absence.
- If funds need to be disbursed from trust during your absence, consider whether to contact the LSBC Custodianship Department before you leave in order to ascertain the applicable rules and put a plan in place to make sure of compliance.
- Clients are entitled to expect their files to receive a totality of coverage. If something urgent occurs that requires immediate legal action, your client's interest needs to be preserved even in your absence.
- Create an effective coverage plan and maintain an organized practice so the person stepping into your shoes can deal with matters in a timely and accurate manner.
- Contact the Lawyers Insurance Fund to fully understand the liability issues surrounding having someone oversee your practice. Recognize that if one lawyer makes a mistake in a file and another perpetuates it and makes matters worse, there may be two lawyers who are liable to the client.
- Make sure that the lawyer you ask to cover for you is competent to practice in the areas of law in which you practice and is not subject to any practice restrictions that could impede his or her ability to manage things in your absence. Practice restrictions are noted on each lawyer's profile on the Lawyer Lookup section of the LSBC site.