Your Coverage and Succession Plan - General Cautions

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 Conduct, which require you to report to the Law Society:
    • another lawyer's misappropriation or misapplication of trust funds,
    • the abandonment of a law practice,
    • participation in criminal activity related to a lawyer's practice,
    • conduct that raises substantial questions as to the other lawyer's honesty, trustworthiness, or competence as a lawyer, and
    • any situation in which a lawyer’s clients are likely to be materially prejudiced (Rule 7.1-3 of the Code).
  • Never sign blank cheques for use during your absence (Rules of the Law Society of Alberta, Rule 119.22(1)).
  • If funds need to be disbursed from trust during your absence, consider applying for authorization to have trust cheques signed by another person in your absence (Rule 119.22(2))
  • Ensure your absence will not interfere with meeting the Law Firm’s obligation to submit its Annual Report by the March 31 Due Date. Failure to submit the Annual Report by the Due Date will result in Late Filing Fees being applied to the Law Firm. Should the Annual Report remain outstanding and/or the Late Filing Fees remain unpaid 90 days after the Due Date, the Responsible Lawyer will be subject to Administrative Suspension.
  • 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 interests need 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 ALIA 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 and consider how conflicts will be handled if the lawyer acts for opposing parties.
Last modified: Monday, 21 August 2023, 10:47 AM