Legal Ethics Issues When an Attorney Leaves the Firm

Managing Client Communications and Files, Work Product, Conflicts of Interest

Recording of a 90-minute CLE webinar with Q&A

Conducted on Tuesday, June 18, 2019

Recorded event now available

or call 1-800-926-7926
Program Materials

This CLE webinar will prepare law firms and practitioners for legal ethics issues that arise when an attorney leaves one firm for another firm. The panel will discuss critical topics such as client communications, property and work-product disputes, and conflicts facing the attorney and the new firm.


The transition of an attorney from one firm to another is fraught with ethical pitfalls for the attorney and the firms. Legal ethics rules present some gray areas regarding the attorney's and the firm's obligations to clients, including notice to clients and solicitation of business.

Disputes often arise between a departing attorney and a firm over whether property belongs to the firm or the attorney. Both parties may also have opposing claims on client contact information, document templates, and other non-client work product.

An attorney changing firms must communicate some client information to the new firm for conflicts review. The ABA's Standing Committee on Ethics issued Formal Opinion 09-455 to guide the timing and scope of disclosures and how the new firm may use the information received.

Listen as our authoritative panel guides you through the myriad legal ethics issues presented when an attorney leaves one firm for another firm and offers approaches to avoid ethical pitfalls during the transition process.



  1. Notice and communication
    1. Notice by departing attorney to firm
    2. Notice by departing attorney to clients
    3. Notice by law firm to clients
    4. Post-notice communications with clients
    5. Attorney solicitation of clients
  2. Property of firm vs. departing attorney
    1. Client files
    2. Attorney work-product
    3. Client contact information
  3. Obligation of departing attorney and new firm
    1. Conflicts check obligation of new firm
    2. Disclosure of client information to new firm
    3. ABA Formal Opinion 09-455: Disclosure of Conflicts Information When Lawyers Move Between Firms


The panel will review these and other critical issues:

  • What notice must a departing attorney and law firm provide clients--and when should this notice be given?
  • What actions should a law firm avoid after giving notice to clients that an attorney is leaving the firm?
  • What rules govern a departing attorney's solicitation of a former firm's clients?
  • Is a departing attorney permitted to retain client contact information from a mobile device provided and paid for by the former firm?
  • What must an attorney disclose to the new firm about former clients--and how may the new firm use this information?


Krauss, Geri
Geri S. Krauss

Managing Member

Ms. Krauss is a respected litigator and recognized expert on complex issues relating to professional partnerships....  |  Read More

Schuman, William
William P. Schuman, PC

McDermott Will & Emery

Mr. Schuman focuses his practice on securities and complex commercial litigation and internal investigations with...  |  Read More

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