If you are the sole practitioner of a law practice and intend to close your practice, there are a number of steps you should take.
Notify your clients
You should notify your clients of your intention to close your practice. You should also advise them of any critical dates leading up to the closure.
You may also choose to provide them with a list of alternative legal practitioners. However, a referral of all of your clients to another legal practice may constitute a successor practice for the purpose of professional indemnity insurance.
What to do with work in progress
You may still have work in progress at the time you decide to close your practice. There are different ways you can address this:
- You can complete the work and invoice your clients prior to the closure.
- If the work cannot be completed before closure, you can consult with your client about transferring the matter to another practitioner. This must be done in accordance with Rule 6 of the Legal Profession Uniform Legal Practice (Solicitors) Rules 2015 (Solicitors’ Rules).
Transferring and storing documents
You should undertake a review of your files. This is to determine which files should be transferred, which files you should retain and which files you can destroy.
If you are transferring matters to another practitioner, you will need to review.
Close any trust accounts
If you are closing a law practice that is authorised to receive trust money, you must also close your trust account. For more information, visit the closing a trust account page on our website.
You must also notify the clients on whose behalf you hold trust money, pursuant to Rule 6.2 (Solicitors’ Rules).
If you are the sole principal of a law practice and you intend to close down the law practice or cease engaging in legal practice, you must notify us in writing within 14 days after ceasing practice or closing your practice. The termination form must be signed by the principal or a person authorised by the principal of the law practice.
To notify us, you should complete the Notice of termination of provision of legal services form and submit it through the lawyer enquiry form.
If you are a law practice and all partners have agreed to wind down business, or if you are an Incorporated Legal Practice (ILP), you can follow the same process but you should complete the Notice of termination of provision of legal services form for ILPs.
Surrender your practising certificate
If you no longer intend to practice, you must surrender your practicing certificate. Not renewing your practicing certificate is not the same as surrendering your practising certificate.
For more information on surrendering your practising certificate, you can visit our webpage here.
Professional Indemnity Insurance and run off liabilities
Please also contact your professional indemnity insurance provider to discuss any run-off liabilities.