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August 23, 2023
Contact: Rebecca Johnson
Public Affairs Director, State Bar of Texas


State Bar of Texas offers attorneys free toolkit for succession planning

AUSTIN — What happens when an attorney stops practicing without warning? Health issues, unexpected deaths, and other emergencies can cause attorneys to cease practicing abruptly. Recent studies undertaken by the State Bar of Texas have shown such instances are on the rise in Texas and can leave attorneys’ law partners, or even family members, scrambling to access client documents and close practices. Now the State Bar of Texas is offering a free Succession Planning Toolkit to help attorneys prepare. The kit is available at:

“The new Succession Planning Toolkit is a one-stop shop for attorneys to find everything they need to plan ahead and prevent their partners or loved ones from being left to handle everything if the unexpected happens,” said Cindy V. Tisdale, the 2023-2024 president of the State Bar of Texas.

Succession planning was one of the top initiatives of Laura Gibson, the State Bar of Texas’ immediate past president, during her terms as chair of the board (2018-2019) and president (2022-2023).

“We started studying this issue back in 2018 with a succession workgroup,” Gibson said. “By 2021, those efforts led to a new rule authorizing attorneys to voluntarily designate a custodian attorney to assist with the cessation of practice.” The rule, Texas Rules of Disciplinary Procedure 13.04, offers designated custodians the same statutory protections as court-appointed custodians are afforded, which protects them from liability except for intentional misconduct or gross negligence. The rule was passed by referendum of the bar and adopted by the Supreme Court of Texas.

Since then, the State Bar has encouraged members to easily designate a custodian using the bar’s online portal. Now, the bar’s free Succession Planning Toolkit provides much more help for the myriad tasks associated with shutting down a law practice.

The toolkit takes attorneys through a series of steps, starting with the most critical: designating a custodian attorney (a process that takes only a few minutes via an online form). Next, the toolkit gives instructions on managing files, including retention, transition, and closing of client files. Also, the toolkit helps with the task of closing IOLTA accounts.

Additionally, the toolkit provides a comprehensive guide for attorneys who know when they want to close their practices. This section includes tips, checklists, and timelines for use as a practice winds down. It also covers preparing a practice for sale.

The Succession Planning Toolkit was created by the State Bar of Texas’ Law Practice Management Committee and Law Practice Management Program.

Note to editors: The free Succession Planning Toolkit is available at:


The State Bar of Texas is a public corporation and an administrative agency of the judicial department of state government that provides educational programs for the legal profession and the public, administers the minimum continuing legal education program for attorneys, and manages the attorney discipline system. For more information, follow us on Twitter and Instagram @statebaroftexas, like us on Facebook at, or visit

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