Assumption of Practice: Volunteers Needed!

An assumption of jurisdiction of an attorney’s law practice occurs when an attorney is no longer able to provide legal services necessary to protect the interests of his or her clients. In an ideal world, every attorney would take appropriate steps to plan for the eventual (or abrupt) closure of his or her practice. However, the assumption of a lawyer’s practice is often required because the lawyer has been suspended or disbarred, is suffering from a disability, has passed away, has become inactive, or has simply abandoned the practice. In these situations, the State Bar relies on attorneys from around the state to volunteer to serve as “custodian” of these practices for the purpose of examining client matters, contacting clients, updating courts, and returning client files. The State Bar is teaming with TYLA to recruit volunteer custodians.

Serving as volunteer custodian can be a challenging but rewarding undertaking. Some custodial duties include:

  • Promptly identifying and handling all urgent matters;

  • Notifying clients, court personnel, opposing counsel, and other interested persons;

  • Properly disposing of client files and tracking all action taken; and

  • Reporting to the court.

There are also many benefits to serving as custodian. Volunteers have the opportunity to:

  • Gain practical legal experience;

  • Network with clients, other lawyers, and court personnel;

  • Earn pro bono credit (which may be applied toward membership in the State Bar’s Pro Bono College);

  • Enhance your resume; and

  • Provide a much needed service to the legal community.

The State Bar has made available a number of resources to aid volunteer custodians. It has compiled a comprehensive yet concise Custodian Handbook, available on the State Bar website, that provides step-by-step guidance for navigating the process and managing custodial duties. Linked to the Handbook are several forms that may be useful when assuming a practice. It has also provided contact information of State Bar attorneys who can offer instruction and assistance.

Serving as custodian of the practice of a missing, incapacitated, deceased, or disabled lawyer is a commitment. However, it is often a fulfilling experience, as the custodian has the satisfaction of rendering an invaluable service to the public and other members of the Bar. Each custodian’s experience and issues are unique, and it is impossible to answer every question in advance. But every custodian should feel free to contact the State Bar of Texas when issues arise. We’re here to help!

If you’re interested in volunteering, please contact Julie Liddell or Claire Reynolds at (512) 427-1350. Thank you in advance for your time and service!

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