Succession Planning – The Importance of Designating a Custodian


The Importance of Succession Planning – Designate a Custodian


Laura Gibson is the 2022-2023 State Bar of Texas President. She is a Houston-based partner in Denton US and the head of the Texas Employment & Labor Group. Gibson was the 2018-2019 chair of the State Bar Board of Directors and has served on numerous State Bar committees.

Gibson has worked to promote succession planning as one of her primary initiatives. Her mission is to encourage every lawyer in the state of Texas to designate a custodian attorney. In 2018-2019, the bar created a Succession Planning Workgroup that developed an online custodian designation portal on the bar’s website. The new Texas Rule of Disciplinary Procedure 13.04, which was approved by referendum, adopted by the Texas Supreme Court, and became effective July 1, 2021, enables lawyers to name a custodian to wind up and close their practice in the event of sudden cessation. Rule 13.04 provides the custodian attorney with the same protection as a court appointed custodian, which protects her from liability except for intentional misconduct or gross negligence.

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.

Read more at the designation portal here.

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