Lawyers, like everyone else, want to believe they will live forever. Or at the least, they believe that they will work until they make the decision to retire, and then transition smoothly into retirement. For solo attorneys, and many others, this dream is often just a dream. Instead of smooth transitions, they may face sudden illnesses, periods of disability, along with uncertainty that can often overtake the hopeful dreams. Just search for “lawyers who suddenly died from covid” in Google and read all the stories.
The reality can be tragic, particularly for solos. But these problems can happen to any lawyer in any size firm. The Rules of Professional Conduct are of no benefit to solos, and in some states the situation is more dire than others. In fact, the Rules can seem like anchors for pure solos and others who have not planned ahead for the possibility of sudden death or impairment.
Under Pennsylvania Rule of Professional Conduct 1.5(e), lawyers are prohibited from dividing fees for legal services with anyone except lawyers. Estates are not lawyers. That is a problem that can financially devastate a lawyer's family, especially for solos and others in firms where their futures are not subject to complex fee division agreements.
In this edition of The Legal Tech Podcast, attorney and ethics guru Daniel J. Siegel of the Law Offices of Daniel J. Siegel, LLC and Integrated Technology Services, LLC highlights the problems that impact lawyers, clients and the lawyers' families and offers potential solutions.
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The Piketon Massacre
The most notorious mass murder in Ohio’s history happened on the night of April 21, 2016 in rural Pike County. Four crime scenes, thirty-two gunshot wounds, eight members of the Rhoden family left dead in their homes. Two years later a local family of four, the Wagners, are arrested and charged with the crimes. As the Wagners await four back-to-back capital murder trials, the KT Studios team revisits Pike County to examine: crime-scene forensics, upcoming legal proceedings, and the ties that bind the victims and the accused. As events unfold and new crimes are uncovered, what will it mean for all involved? What will it mean for Pike County?