Know a lawyer who deserves recognition for pro bono work? Nominate!

Pro Bono is a professional responsibility.

If you know a Vermont lawyer who deserves recognition for their pro bono efforts, this blog’s for you.  But you need to act fast.

Nominations for the Vermont Bar Association’s Pro Bono Award are due tomorrow.  Nominations should be sent to me or Teri Corsones

There’s never a bad time to recognize those who give of themselves.

Related posts:

  • pro bono award

Is your firm prepared for a disaster?

Earlier today, the American Bar Association announced that its Standing Committee on Professional Responsibility & Ethics had issued guidance on a lawyer’s ethical duties before, during, and after a natural disaster.  The guidance comes via Formal Opinion 482.

I’d say that the key takeaway from the opinion is this:

Image result for disaster plan

Or, as the Committee elaborated:

  • “Lawyers must be prepared to deal with disasters. Foremost among a lawyer’s ethical obligations are those to existing clients, particularly in maintaining communication. Lawyers must also protect documents, funds, and other property the lawyer is holding for clients or third parties. By proper advance preparation and taking advantage of available technology during recovery efforts, lawyers will reduce the risk of violating professional obligations after a disaster.”

The opinion delvesin into the details of a lawyer’s duty to:

  • communicate with clients following a disaster;
  • continue to provide competent representation following a disaster;
  • take steps, in advance, to ensure continued access to client information & funds following a disaster;
  • take steps, in advance, to protect the confidentiality of client information should a disaster strike;
  • withdraw if, for whatever reason, a disaster leaves a lawyer unable to provide competent representation;
  • notify clients of property lost or destroyed in a disaster; and,
  • be mindful of the solicitation rules if offering to provide legal services to prospective clients impacted by a disaster.

Don’t think it can’t happen here.  It has.  And, as a result, the Vermont Bar Association developed disaster planning resources for lawyers.  I urge you to review them.

Finally, for lawyers who practice alone or in very small firms, do you have a succession plan?  You should.  Not just in case of a natural disaster, but in case disaster, of any type, strikes you.

Rule 1.3 requires lawyers to act with reasonable diligence and promptness when representing a client.  The rule does not specifically mandate a succession plan. However, Comment [5] says:

  • “To prevent neglect of client matters in the event of a lawyer’s death or disability, the duty of diligence may require that each sole practitioner prepare a plan, in conformity with applicable rules, that designates another competent lawyer to review client files, notify each client of the lawyer’s death or disability, and determine whether there is a need for protective action.”

Lawyers often advise clients to plan for disasters.  Lawyers should do the same.

Got Tech Competence? The VBA Does.

Last week, the Professional Responsibility Board voted to recommend that the Vermont Supreme Court follow the lead of ABA and 31 other states and adopt a duty of tech competence.  Specifically, the Board voted to recommend that the Court amend Comment 6 to Rule 1.1 to read as follows:

  • “[6] To maintain the requisite knowledge and skill, a lawyer should keep abreast of changes to the law and its practice, including the benefits and risks associated with the technology relevant to the lawyer’s practice, engage in continuing study and education and comply with all legal education requirements to which the lawyer is subject.”

I’ve blogged a zillion times on tech competence.  Yes, a zillion.  Remember, puffery isn’t unethical.

I’ve also blogged that lawyers shouldn’t fear tech, but embrace it.  And here’s a chance to do exactly that!

Next month, the Vermont Bar Association is presenting its first ever Tech Day.  It looks like a fantastic event.  For more, go here.  Or, read the VBA announcement below.

Remember: amendment or not, Competence includes Tech Competence!

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REGISTER HERE

VIEW FLYER HERE

If one of your goals this year is to learn all there is to know about using technology in your law practice, then this is the place to be! Whether it’s cloud computing, automating your law practice, emerging tech trends, security, office IT, e-discovery, encryption, social media evidence, billing or digital forensics and more, we’ve got you covered.

Our Tech Show CLE Seminars cover the topics you need to know to get your law firm up to speed with current legal technology tools. Technology can streamline your law practice and save you time and money on top of ensuring you are competent in your practice. As Bar Counsel Mike Kennedy often says, legal competence includes tech competence.

Of course, there’s much more to our Tech Show than the educational sessions. We have built in plenty of time to view demos, get personalized recommendations and network with our Sponsors and Exhibitors as well as to mingle with your colleagues at our luncheon and reception.

And last, by not least, you’ll find all the inspiration you need to streamline and prosper from our Keynote Speakers, Brian Kuhn of IBM Watson Legal and Edward Hartman, Co-Founder of Legal Zoom.

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tech-ethics

 

Tech Competence: Tips and a Conference

As Olivia might sing, let’s get techical, techical.

Last week, the Professional Responsibility Board voted to recommend a series of amendments to the Vermont Rules of Professional Conduct.  The package will be forwarded to the Supreme Court for publication for comment.

Rule 1.1 requires lawyers to provide clients with competent representation.  Among other things, the Board will recommend that the Court amend Comment [6] to Rule 1.1 so as to add language that is highlighted & underlined:

  • “To maintain the requisite knowledge and skill, a lawyer should keep abreast of changes in the law and its practice, including the benefits and risks associated with relevant technology, engage in continuing study and education and comply with all continuing legal education requirements to which the lawyer is subject.”

As of September 2017, 28 states have adopted the amendment.

If you’re concerned about tech competence, fear not!

  • On May 16, 2018, the Vermont Bar Association will present its inaugural Tech Day. Save the date! It’s scheduled to take place at the Sheraton-Burlington and will include several practical seminars.
  • Yesterday, Robert Ambrogi’s LawSites blog posted tips related to tech security, including a suggestion to consider client portals.

Finally, I’ve blogged often on this topic.  Related posts include:

 

 

Paralegal licenses: incremental improvement to access isn’t perfect, but it isn’t bad.

Wrong

In 2013, the Washington Supreme Court adopted a rule authorizing limited license legal technicians to practice.  In 2015, the Legal Education Committee of the Vermont Joint Commission on the Future of Legal Services recommended something similar: authorization for Vermont Certified Paralegals to provide limited legal services.  The recommendation was based, in part, on the staggering number of self-represented litigants in Vermont’s civil docket.

Washington’s LLLT program is here.  The report of the Vermont Joint Commission is here.  The recommendations from the Legal Education Committee begin on page 11.

I chaired the Legal Education Committee.  The idea of a Vermont Certified Paralegal program hasn’t gained much traction.  Which makes me wonder . . .

. . . what if we got it wrong?

To be clear, I don’t think we were wrong to recommend limited licensure for paralegals.  Rather, I wonder if we were wrong to recommend a training & certification program that includes too many barriers to entry.  Did we focus too much on creating mini-lawyers, when far less would be a gargantuan improvement in access to legal services?  In short, did we make “perfect” an enemy of “good?”

These thoughts struck me late yesterday afternoon as I read Mary Juetten’s article in the ABA Journal: The limited license legal technician is the way of the future of law.

Some of Juetten’s key points:

  • “First, access to justice is not limited to low-income Americans. The 80 percent unmet need figure is based on the entire population. Therefore, many families cannot qualify for help and cannot afford an attorney.”
  • “Second, most middle-income citizens carry debt loads commensurate to their earnings, and any unplanned expenses are difficult to cover.”
  • “Third, many family law attorneys charge anywhere from $250 to $400 per hour, which is still more than double that of a LLLT. For example, using a 10-hour matter, a LLLT could charge up to $1,500 but an attorney would be $4,000. That $2,500 is a substantial savings to almost everyone.

Think about that.  $2500.  I’m guessing that even among the demographic reading this blog, $2500 isn’t an amount tossed around casually.

From there, Juetten notes:

  • “As of this month, there are only 26 LLLTs licensed in Washington, mainly concentrated in the Seattle-Tacoma area. The program appears to suffer from barriers to entry including the cost of the classes and the duration of the practical experience requirement. In addition, the classes are not eligible for student aid, so it is also expensive.”

And it’s about when I finished the last paragraph that I said to myself “Self, what if we got it wrong?”

As we consider whether to issue limited licenses to paralegals, we shouldn’t design or require training & certification programs that approximate law school.  The goal shouldn’t be to provide people who can’t afford lawyers with access to something that  walks, talks, and looks like a lawyer.  It should be to provide them with something that is better than they have now – which is nothing.

It’s long past time to think outside the box.  Let’s play “what if.”

What if an 8-week training program is sufficient to provide competent & practical legal services that are better than nothing?  What if it’s 6 weeks?  What if it’s 2?

We didn’t consider those options.  Maybe we should. I mean, we let new lawyers hang their own shingles without requiring liability insurance or any training in trust accounting.

Let’s be honest: right now, there are high-quality Vermont paralegals who, without any additional training, could walk into a courthouse and provide much needed access to the scores of family law litigants without any.  Seriously.  If you were to get divorced tomorrow, who would you choose? A paralegal who has worked for years in a family law practice, or, me?  I’ve been licensed for 23 years and wouldn’t know the first thing to do for you.

I’m not declaring that an 8 (or 6 or 2) week training program is sufficient.  But again, what if it is?  The Vermont Bar Association is more than capable of providing comprehensive and high-quality training.

Some of you might be rolling your eyes and asking “what good would that do in the bigger picture?”   You’re right, it’s not perfect.  There will still be too many people who can’t afford legal services. But, we have to stop looking for the magic bullet that solves the entire problem at once.  The “big picture” gets smaller by providing access to 1 person at a time.

One of my priest’s favorite sermons centers on Loren Eisley’s The Starfish Story.  Here’s the story:

One day a man was walking along the beach when he noticed
a boy picking something up and gently throwing it into the ocean.

Approaching the boy, he asked, “What are you doing?”

The youth replied, “Throwing starfish back into the ocean.
The surf is up and the tide is going out.  If I don’t throw them back, they’ll die.”

“Son, the man said, “don’t you realize there are miles and miles of beach and hundreds of starfish?
You can’t make a difference!”

After listening politely, the boy bent down, picked up another starfish,
and threw it back into the surf.  Then, smiling at the man, he said
“I made a difference for that one.”

So, maybe we got it wrong.  In a perfect world, a Vermont Certified Paralegal might have thousands of hours of practical work and a semester or two of legal curriculum. For now, however, it might require far less to begin to make a difference.

 

So You Want to Represent Both Buyer & Seller?

Facts:  Mother owns home.  Mother wants to sell home to Son.  Mother & Son agree on the details, without the assistance of counsel.  Mother and Son ask Attorney to handle the purchase & sale, and to represent each of them at closing.

Wait a minute! Is it already April 1?  Mother & Son agreeing on details – of anything – without the assistance of counsel? In what crazy world does that happen?!?!

Anyhow, I digress.  Does Attorney have a conflict? If so, can it be waived?

According to IIlinois State Bar Professional Conduct Opinion 2017-04, the answer is yes there’s a conflict, and it likely cannot be waived.

According to the Illinois State Bar:

  • Representation of a buyer in a real estate transaction is directly adverse to representation of a seller.
  • Thus, Attorney has a conflict.
  • It is not reasonable for Attorney to believe that Attorney will be able to provide competent and diligent represntation to both Mother & Son.
  • Thus, the conflict cannot be waived.

A few relevant passages from the opinion:

  • “Pursuant to Rule 1.7(b)(1), the lawyer must analyze whether the lawyer may reasonably believe that the lawyer will be able to provide competent and diligent representation to each affected client. The question is whether a reasonable lawyer would conclude that the lawyer could provide the required diligence and competence to both the buyer and the seller in the transaction.”
  • ” In our view, if the buyer and the seller have not already executed a valid sales contract, the lawyer could not reasonably believe that he or she could provide competent and diligent representation to both the buyer and the seller. The lawyer could not negotiate on behalf of one client without harming or potentially harming the other client. The lawyer’s obligations and loyalties are so divided that the lawyer could not reasonably believe that the lawyer could provide adequate representation to both parties.”
  • “Even if the parties agree on the terms of the sale, and have already executed the sales contract, we believe that it is highly unlikely that a lawyer could properly represent both the buyer and seller in concluding the transaction. Issues often arise “after the parties have executed the contract and prior to closing that would require the lawyer to give unqualified advice to his or her client.”

Vermont’s Rule 1.7 is identical to the Illinois rule.  In Vermont, “a lawyer shall not represent a client if the representation involves a concurrent conflict of interest.”  Rule 1.7(a).  A concurrent conflict exists:

  • if the representation of a client will be directly adverse to another; Rule 1.7(a)(1), or,
  • if there is a significant risk that the representation of a client will be materially limited by the lawyer’s responsiblities to another. Rule 1.7(a)(2).

So, in Vermont, Attorney has a concurrent conflict:

  • if the representation of Mother will directly adverse to Son; or,
  • if there is a significant risk that the representation of Mother or Son will be materially limited by Attorney’s duties to the other.

If a concurrent conflict exists, Vermont’s 1.7 allows it to be waived if 4 criteria are met. The first is in Rule 1.7(b)(1): Attorney must reasonably believe that Attorney will be able to provide competent and diligent representation to both Mother and Son.

The Illinois State Bar concluded that it would not be reasonable for Attorney to believe such a thing. The opinon cites to the VBA Advisory Ethics Opinion 2004-3.

In the VT opinion, the Vermont Bar Associatioin’s Professional Responsibility Committee concluded that “an attorney may not simultaneously represent a client who is selling a parcel of real property and provide limited representation to the buyer of the same real estate by providing a title insurance policy to such buyer.”

The opinion is not exactly on point with the hypo with which I started this post.  However, the Committee went through exactly the correct analysis. Is there a concurrent conflict? If so, can it be waived.

In addressing the questions, the Comittee referred to an advisory opinion it had issued in 1978: VBA Advisory Ethics Opinion 78-04.  The opinion was rendered pursuant to the old Code of Professional Responsibility, the rules that governed until September 1, 1999.  Under the Code, even when faced with a conflict, a lawyer was allowed to “represent multiple clients if it is obvious that he can adequately represent the interest of each and if each consents to the representation after full disclosure of the possible effect of such representation on the exercise of his independent professional judgment on behalf of each.”  Code of Professional Responsibility, DR-5-105(C).

The Committee concluded that the rule’s two phrases had equal meaning.  That is, “[i]t is important to emphasize, however, that consent – even if knowledgeably given – is not a general panacea to conflicts of interest. It will only vitiate the conflict if ‘it is obvious that [the lawyer] can adequately represent the interest of each.’ ”

From there, the 1978 Committee concluded that:

  • “It is difficult to see how a lawyer could ever make full disclosure in the real estate area given the myriad of problems that may arise. Moreover, real estate transactions often involve parties of different legal sophistication and disclosures suitable to one may be insufficient for the other.”

And, that

  • In [its view], the Committee reaffirms its position that representation of both purchase and seller in a normal ‘arms-length’ real estate transaction is unethical, at least when the representation of neither side is in any way limited.”

Now, perhaps times have changed. And, as did the Illinois and Vermont comittees in each of the three opinions I cited to in my blog, I am not going to try to list each and every situation in which a waiver may be valid under Rule 1.7(b).

All I’m saying is this: if Attorney wants to represent both Mother and Son, I read Rule 1.7(b) as requiring that it be reasonable for Attorney to believe that he can provide competent and diligent representation to each.

As always, let’s be careful out there folks.

Hill Street Blues

 

 

 

Five for Friday: Constitution Day

September 17 was Constitution Day.  Earlier this week, the Vermont Bar Association and the Vermont Judiciary teamed to present a Constitution Day panel, part of an ongoing collaboration to promote the Constitution, civics, and the importance of both the separation of powers & the rule of law.

I was fortunate to be asked to moderate a fantastic panel that included (in order of appearance):

  • Superior Judge Robert Mello who spoke on the origins of the Constitution & the Bill of Rights;
  • Associate Justice Beth Robinson who used the 8th Amendment to present a case study, one in which she engaged the audience on different methods of interpreting the text;
  • Associate Justice John Dooley who spoke on the 14th Amendment and the relation between the federal and state constitutions;
  • Superior Judge Nancy Waples who used a personal story to highlight the connection between the Constitution and Citizenship; and,
  • Chief Justice Paul Reiber who pointed out how radical it was, at least 229 years ago, to design a government in which each of the branches had “checks & balances” over the others.

The event was just the beginning.  The VBA and the Judiciary intend to bring civics on the road, including into schools.  If you’d like to get involved, please get in touch. Or, if you’d like one of the pocket constitutions that were distributed to everyone who attended, be on the lookout for our next event! Oh, and finally, by the middle of next week, a video of the event will be available online.

Now, on to the quiz.  Of course, it’s a special Constitution Day theme.

  • Team entries welcome.
  • Five for Friday is usually “open book.”  I’m not saying this week’s isn’t, but give it a shot without looking up the answers.
  • email answers to michael.kennedy@vermont.gov
  • Please consider forwarding the quiz to colleagues
  • I’ll post the answers on Monday morning

Question 1 (2 parts, 1 point each)

James Madison was 1 of 2 future US Presidents to sign the Constitution.  His lifelong home was an estate in Orange County, Virginia. Vermonters should recognize the name of Madison’s estate.

  • What was the name of Madison’s estate
  • Who was the other future US President to sign the Constitution?

Question 2

What’s the subject of the most recently ratified amendment?

  • A.  Congressional salaries
  • B.  Equal Rights
  • C.  Presidential Succession
  • D.  Poll Taxes

Question 3

Top 5?

Especially in election years, the 1st and 2nd Amendment are often in the news.  Most lawyers remember studying the 4th & 5th in law school.  That leaves #3. What does the 3rd Amendment prohibit?

Question 4 (Author & Title: 1 point each)

These statements refer to the Constitution.  The same author wrote each, and each appears in the same place.  Please identify the author and what you’re reading if you come across the statements.

  • “To what purpose are powers limited, and to what purpose is that limitation committed to writing, if these limits may, at any time, be passed by those intended to be restrained?
  • “It is emphatically the province and duty of the Judicial Department to say what the law is.”

Question 5

In an episode of The Office, Michael Scott ran over a co-worker in the company parking lot. He was driving a company car. When asked by an HR rep if the accident happened on company property, Michael replied:

  • “On company property, with company property.”

Then, citing a clause in the Bill of Rights, Michael said “So, we’re fine.”

What legal theory found in the Bill of Rights did Michael mistakenly think rendered him and the company “fine?”

PS:  September 17 is also the halfway mark to St. Patrick’s Day.  It’s all downhill from here!

 

Five For Friday #22

If you have the time, before or after the quiz, please take a look at this post in the ABA Journal. I’m going to blog about it in greater detail this weekend or early next week.  Specifically, I’m going to ask: should the PRB recommend that the Court amend the Rules of Professional Conduct so as to allow nonlawyers to have ownership interests in law firms?

Also, PLEASE, take the time to email Kevin Ryan.  Today is Kevin’s final day as the VBA’s Director of Education and Communications. He recently accepted the position as Executive Director of the Monroe (NY) County Bar Association.  Kevin is my friend and, besides, has been a HUGE supporter of the Professional Responsibility Program.  He has done a fantastic job educating lawyers on issues related to legal ethics and professional responsibility.  Kevin – thank you, I’ll miss you, I wish you the best.

Now, for the quiz.

  • there’s no such thing as “cheating” on this quiz. use any resource available to you.  exception: question 5.
  • email answers to michael.kennedy@vermont.gov
  • encourage friends, colleagues, co-workers to enter

Question 1

Several rules require a lawyer to obtain a client’s “informed consent, confirmed in writing.”  Which is most accurate?

  • A.  In situations that require a client’s informed consent, a lawyer may not act until the client’s informed consent is confirmed in writing.
  • B.  If a lawyer has obtained a client’s informed consent, the lawyer may act in reliance on that consent so long as it is confirmed in writing within a reasonable time thereafter.
  • C.  The rules are silent on this issue.

Question 2

Lawyer called me with an inquiry. I listened. Then, I asked “will any activities of the partnership include the practice of law?”

Most likely, Lawyer called to discuss:

  • A.  Selling her firm, but remaining “of counsel.”
  • B.  Bringing on a new attorney to work “of counsel.”
  • C.  Forming a partnership with a nonlawyer.
  • D.  Opening an office in another jurisdiction.

Question 3

Attorney called me with an ethics inquiry.  I listed, then said “a comment to the rule makes it clear that the rule doesn’t apply to an organization’s former constituents.”

Given my statement, it is most likely that Attorney called me to discuss the rule that deals with what topic?

Question 4

Lawyer called with an inquiry. I responded “the rule only applies if a ‘significant motive’ for doing so is your ‘pecuniary gain.'”

What did Lawyer call to discuss?

Question 5

A long, long time ago, Henry Winkler and Scott Baio gained fame playing Fonzie and Chachi on Happy Days.  More recently, the actors played lawyers – one ethical, one not so ethical – on an Emmy award winning television show. Name the show.

 

Lawyers Helping Lawyers

Updated on March 3 to refer accurately to the Vermont Lawyers Assistance Program.

Last month, the American Bar Association and the Hazelden Betty Ford Clinic released a  a study on attorney substance abuse & mental health. According to a press release issued by the ABA, the study found “substantial and widespread levels of problem drinking and other behavioral health problems in the U.S. legal profession.”

The press release is HERE.

The full study is HERE.

Here’s the opening paragraph of the study’s “discussion” section:

  • “Our research reveals a concerning amount of behavioral health problems among attorneys in the United States. Our most significant findings are the rates of hazardous, harmful, and potentially alcohol dependent drinking and high rates of depression and anxiety symptoms. We found positive AUDIT screens for 20.6% of our sample; in comparison, 11.8% of a broad, highly educated workforce screened positive on the same measure (Matano et al., 2003). Among physicians and surgeons, Oreskovich et al. (2012) found that 15% screened positive on the AUDIT-C subscale focused on the quantity and frequency of use, whereas 36.4% of our sample screened positive on the same subscale. While rates of problematic drinking in our sample are generally consistent with those reported by Benjamin et al. (1990) in their study of attorneys (18%), we found considerably higher rates of mental health distress.”

In my experience, lawyers are in position to recognize signs of substance abuse and mental health issues exhibited by another lawyer, whether a co-worker, colleague, or opposing counsel.  Some lawyers wonder whether there is a duty to report substance abuse and mental health issues.  Maybe.  Rule 8.3, the reporting rule, isHERE.

But how about this? How about coming it at from the perspective of helping another human being instead of analyzing whether another’s struggles trigger your duty to report? If a colleague, co-worker, or opposing counsel needs help, why not help them?

Yes, I get it, we are reluctant to get involved.  Some of these might sound familiar:

  • It’s not my business.
  • I don’t know for sure, could’ve been she was having a bad day.
  • It helps my client that he isn’t doing his job.
  • The firm doesn’t need the bad publicity.

Well, consider this:

Extrapolating from the ABA/Hazelden study, approximately

  • 500 active Vermont attorneys are problem drinkers
  • 500 active Vermont attorneys exhibit signs of problem anxiety
  • 720 active Vermont attorneys struggle with some level of depression.

Here’s a real number, not an extrapolation: over the past 14 months, three Vermont attorneys took their own lives.

Help is available.

Contact the Vermont Lawyers Assistance Program. It’s confidential and the volunteers are exempt from the reporting requirement in Rule 8.3.  Josh Simonds is the Director and is an excellent resource. A referral to Josh’s program will not result in a referral to the disciplinary prosecutors.

Or, call me.  It’s confidential. I can refer an attorney to the LAP program or to one of the PRB’s assistance panels. The panels, in turn, have the authority to refer a lawyer to LAP or to any type of counseling.  I CANNOT refer the attorney to the disciplinary office.

Or, visit the website for the ABA Commission on Lawyer Assistance Programs.

Call someone. We need to help ourselves, help others, and help ourselves to help others.

Finally, please consider signing up for this seminar scheduled for March 31 at theVBA’s Mid-Year Meeting.  Josh Simonds, Cara Cookson, and I will try to provide you with tips to recognize signs that another lawyer is dealing with substance abuse or mental health problems, and we will provide guidance on how to respond.

Succession Planning: can your clients make it without you?

Many of you spend a lot of time advising your clients to prepare for the worst. Have you taken the time to protect your clients if the worst happens to you?

An unexpected diagnosis. A car accident. A skiing mishap. What if you had been away during Hurricane Irene, unable to return to Vermont for that trial, or that deposition, or that closing?

No matter the reason, what if you are not available? Will your clients be protected?

Does anyone know where your files are? Or where you keep your schedule and deadlines? Or the password to your cloud storage platform?  Or how to access your trust account?

Rule 1.3 of the Vermont Rules of Professional Conduct requires lawyers to act with reasonable diligence while representing a client. Comment 5 to Rule 1.3 states that “to prevent neglect of client matters in the event of a sole practitioner’s death or disability, the duty of diligence may require that each sole practitioner prepare a plan, in conformity with the applicable rules, that designates another competent lawyer to review client files, notify each client of the lawyer’s death or disability, and determine whether there is a need for immediate protective action.”

Among other things, a sound succession plan will help to ensure that:

1. deadlines will be met.

2. disbursement of funds held in trust will not be delayed.

3. client files and property will be located and safeguarded.

4. clients are protected.

The Vermont Bar Association has presented seminars on Succession Planning.  To review a seminar by DVD, go to this list and look for Seminar ID #483.  You might also want to review this helpful guide from my colleagues at the Washington State Bar Association or this article from Mark Bassingthwaighte of ALPS.