What would happen to your clients if you suffered an accident or became ill and were unable to work?
The purpose of the law-office back-up project is to provide information and a means for members to designate back-up attorneys to conduct affairs on behalf of their clients in the event that they are unable to continue practicing due to unexpected death, disability or other incapacity.
While few would disagree that back-up planning is important, it is not at all uncommon for attorneys not to have a plan, in writing, to inform their clients, staff and spouse as to what to do in the event that they are no longer able to practice law.
Filing a Law Office Back-up document with the NHBA is a simple way to ensure that your clients, partners and family know where to turn to take care of your business affairs in the event that you are unable to do so yourself.
How does the process work?
- Download the Law Office Back-up Designation form
- Fill out the form, print and sign the document
- Return the form to Member Records, either by scanning and emailing the document
or mailing the document to NHBA Member Records, 2 Pillsbury St., Concord NH 03301
Once the document is received, the Member Records Coordinator will attach the PDF to your member
record. Upon appropriate notification the PDF will be made available to listed designees upon their request.
If peace of mind is not enough to convince you to update your member record with this useful document, consider this:
The ABA Standing Committee on Ethics and Professional Responsibility’s Formal Opinion 92-369 on Disposition of Deceased Sole Practitioners’ Client Files and Property (December 7, 1992) recommends planning for death:
To fulfill the obligation to protect client files and property, a lawyer should prepare a plan providing for the maintenance and protection of those client interests in the event of the lawyer’s death. Such a plan should, at a minimum, include the designation of another lawyer who would have the authority to review client files and make determinations as to which files need immediate attention, and who would notify clients of their lawyer’s death.
In addition, if you are a solo-practitioner, your insurance may require you to name a back-up attorney. This form goes further in that you not only name the attorney but also provide important information for that attorney to access necessary records and files.
This is not only for situations where the attorney passes on, it is for any reason an attorney cannot practice without sufficient warning to make provision for their clients”
— Lanea Witkus, Sullivan County Governor and Law Office Back-up project lead for Board of Governor’s ad hoc Member Services Committee.