Media Release from Law Society of NSW, 14 Nov 2023: A new online form developed by the Law Society of NSW is allowing thousands of the state’s solicitors who run small practices to assure the future of their businesses should they be suddenly unavailable.
President of the Law Society Cassandra Banks said while many of the 6,600 sole solicitor or single principal practices across NSW regularly help clients with wills and enduring powers of attorney,
too few of these lawyers have planned for a future without them at the helm.
“Sole practitioners are particularly vulnerable to disruption if they are suddenly unable to manage their law practice with potentially serious impacts on clients, employees and even the solicitors’ family members, Ms Banks said.
“The Legal Profession Uniform Law empowers the Law Society to appoint an external manager when a principal is unavailable due to death or incapacity, but practitioners are likely to want someone they know and trust to manage their practices, and if necessary, wind them up.
“That’s why I’m encouraging all sole practitioners and principals to nominate their own personal representative and an alternate to ensure clients can continue receiving the attention they need should the unexpected happen.”
The nominated person can be appointed as Manager or Principal, if needed. They then become responsible for conducting and, if necessary, disposing of a sole practitioner’s law practice, in the event the practitioner cannot.
Ms Banks says the new one-step online form is a vast improvement on the pdf form solicitors have had to fill out over the previous few years.
“The take up by solicitors of the pdf form has had limited success, yet wherever this important piece of contingency and succession planning is discussed during my visits to the regions this year, members have been eager to take steps to secure the future of their businesses,” Ms Banks said.
“The new online form is designed to encourage an even greater uptake of the process. Individual practitioners will always be in a better position to decide who should run their practice in their sudden absence. A checklist provides solicitors with guidance as to who is best placed to step in at short notice and a list of action items to ensure the transition is as seamless as possible.”
A nominated personal representative must have a good working knowledge of and experience in the relevant areas of law in the solicitor’s practice, hold a principal’s practising certificate and be authorised to handle trust money.
Ms Banks has invited interested solicitors to download a short LSJ podcast she has recorded with the Law Society’s top expert in this field, External Intervention Solicitor David Viney to better understand the issues involved.