Coverage in Case of Absence and Succession Plan (continued)

General Cautions

Planning to have someone cover for you in your absence is a good idea, but you must consider the following:
  • Ensure that your clients' confidences are protected and that you have obtained your client’s consent. It is essential that you comply with all the ethical requirements governing the practice of law.
  • Never sign blank cheques for use during your absence, especially cheques drawn on a trust account, see subsection 4(5) of the Uniform Trust Account Rules.
  • Make arrangements for another member of the Law Society to sign cheques in your absence, if you practise alone and funds need to be disbursed from trust during your absence.  See subsection 4(7) of the Uniform Trust Account Rules.
  • Clients are entitled to expect that you will continue to take care of their legal matters. If something urgent occurs that requires immediate legal action, your client's interest needs to be preserved even in your absence.
  • 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 practise in the areas of law in which you practise 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 Search section of the Law Society site.
Familiarize yourself with your obligations under the Code of Professional Conduct, which require you to report to the Law Society a situation in which another lawyer’s clients are likely to be materially prejudiced, unless to do so would involve a breach of solicitor-client privilege or be unlawful.  This obligation includes reporting the abandonment of a law practice and any conduct that raises substantial questions relating to a lawyer’s capacity to provide services because of mental, physical or emotional conditions.  See rule 7.1-3 of the New Brunswick Code of Professional Conduct
If, for whatever reason, you are unable to take care of your practice, contact the Law Society.