Five aggravating factors were found: prior
disciplinary offenses, dishonest or selfish motive,
pattern of misconduct, multiple offenses, and
bad-faith obstruction of disciplinary proceed-
ings by intentionally failing to comply with rules
or orders of the disciplinary agency.
One mitigating factor was found: remorse.
ARIZONA ATTORNEY MAGAZINE
Contact the State Bar’s Ethics Hotline at (602) 340-7284.
So you’ve decided to call it quits and wrap up your law practice. Before you turn out the office
lights for the last time, there are a few things you need to keep in mind.
First and most important, you need to inform your clients. Your decision to retire obviously
impacts the representation; therefore, you must inform the client pursuant to ER 1. 4.
Furthermore, when you terminate any representation, you must take reasonable steps to protect the client’s interests. See ER 1. 16(d). This may mean notifying your client well in advance
of your intentions, filing motions to continue those looming evidentiary hearings, filing
motions to withdraw on matters pending before the court, or assisting your client in finding
Once you have withdrawn from the representation, you must refund any unearned fees to
the client. To do this, you must perform a “look-back” over the case to determine what you
have earned. How you calculate this will, of course, be affected by your fee agreement with the
client and how much work was performed, along with all the factors set forth in ER 1. 5(a).
Next, determine what to do with those files. It may be as simple as forwarding the file to
substitute counsel or to the client. Like everything else, you must discuss this with the client.
And discuss with your former clients what to do about their individual closed files. You also
may consider keeping copies of the files to protect yourself from possible malpractice claims
or Bar complaints.
If you decide to sell your practice pursuant to ER 1. 17, be sure to comply with the requirements of that rule.
First, you must cease to engage in the private practice of law altogether or in the area of
practice that has been sold. See ER 1. 17(a). Second, you may sell all or part of your practice
only to another lawyer or lawyers. See ER 1. 17(b). Last, you must give written notice to each
of your clients regarding the sale, the client’s right to retain different counsel, and that the
client’s consent to the transfer will be presumed if he or she does not take any action within
90 days of receipt of your notice. See ER 1. 17(c).
Last, notify the State Bar of your new address. Rule 32(c)( 3), ARIZ.R.S.CT., requires all
members to notify the State Bar of any address changes within 30 days of the effective date.
You also may wish to change your membership status to “inactive” or “retired” depending
on your circumstances.
The decision to close your practice is not an easy one. But you can get through it with
some forethought and work. Don’t forget about the State Bar’s Law Office Management
Assistance Program (LOMAP) at (602) 340-7313. LOMAP has a specially designed packet
and checklist on this topic.
Wrapping Up a Law Practice
Bar Counsel Insider provides practical and important information to State Bar
members about ethics and the disciplinary process.
BAR COUNSEL INSIDER
HONORS & AWARDS
and click on the Member-to-Member
Referral Guide button
In March, three Arizona attorneys received the
2010 Judge Learned Hand Awards, presented by the Arizona Chapter of the American
Jewish Committee: E. G. “Ted” Noyes, Jr., a
former judge and prosecutor, received the
Public Service Award; Debra A. Hill, a litigator with Osborn Maledon, received the
Community Service Award; and Keri Lazarus
Silvyn, who practices zoning and land use planning with Lewis and Roca, received the
Emerging Leadership Award.
Thomas A. Gilson, a partner at Lewis and
Roca, was named a Fellow of the American Bar