March 31, 2015 Articles

Ethics Opinion Clarifies Inconsistency in Sale-of-Law-Practice Rules

Retiring solo practitioners can rest a little easier.

By Will Knight


Should attorneys ever break a professional rule to comply with its spirit? Thankfully, Formal Ethics Opinion 468, published by the ABA Committee on Ethics and Professional Responsibility in October 2014, resolved one such ethical Catch-22 to the benefit of sole practitioners selling their practices under Rule 1.17 of the Model Rules of Professional Conduct. The recent opinion clarifies that selling attorneys may assist buyers for a reasonable period of time despite Rule 1.17’s clear contemporaneous retirement clause.

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