planning - Texas Bar Practice

Safety Systems – Advance Designation of Custodian Attorney

Jen Perez

Safety Systems – Advance Designation of Custodian Attorney

About the Webinar Host

Dean A. Schaffer is the Administrator of the State Bar of Texas Succession Planning Program.

For emergency management and client protection, the State Bar of Texas urges members to designate in advance one or more custodian attorneys. A custodian attorney assists in winding down the lawyer’s law practice, in the event need arises under Part XIII of the Texas Rules of Disciplinary Procedure (TRDP).

By designating a custodian attorney, you are not binding the lawyer to take over your practice and represent your clients. Instead, you are designating a licensed Texas attorney who can contact your clients, encourage them to obtain legal counsel, and assist in the physical disposition of client files.

In extraordinary circumstances, such as the unexpected death of a busy sole practitioner, any interested person may petition a qualifying court to assume jurisdiction over the lawyer’s law practice. Prerequisites for the petition appear at TRDP 13.02. If the court assumes jurisdiction, the court will appoint one or more Texas attorneys to serve as custodian attorneys under TRDP 13.03.

With advance designation of a custodian attorney, the process is simplified.

Practical objectives of custodianship include:

  • Access to client files
  • Notice to the lawyer's clients that the lawyer has ceased practice
  • Client direction on where the client wants the file to go
  • Return of client property.

The State Bar Succession Planning Workgroup developed a system to record advance designations at MyBarPage. The designee may accept or decline the designation. Acceptance signifies current willingness to serve as custodian-attorney, in the event need arises.

Read more at the designation portal here.