CHICAGO -- John Cesario, senior counsel of the Illinois Attorney Registration & Disciplinary Commission, expressed concern that Illinois will see an increase in attorney's older than 65 years old practicing law over the next decade.
According to a press release, the "senior tsunami" could pose challenges to the bar and law firms, "particularly as more practicing lawyers suffer from age-related impairments."
The press release adds that clients "may suffer from a lack of care and oversight by attorneys suffering from those impairments."
The findings of the study were presented by Cesario during a recent Lawyers Assistance Program.
The Illinois Attorney Registration & Disciplinary Commission is addressing the concerns by adding topics of relevance to the Proactive Management Base Regulation (PMBR).
The study also emphasizes planning for succession.
"Another issue relates to the need for sole practitioners to have a succession plan in place in case the attorney becomes unable to attend to client matters," the release states. "The ARDC has made several presentations each year to bar associations and other groups about how to create succession plans. In making presentations to bar associations, the ARDC emphasizes the following points about creating a succession plan."
The suggested succession plan include maintaining records and providing written instructions about computer programs, voicemails and closed files.
The release also stated that "time devoted to planning for unfortunate circumstances will bring peace of mind to sole practitioners and will be enormously helpful to family and friends attempting to close a law practice under difficult conditions, [as a good plan] may also ease the cost of administering the estate of a deceased attorney, and facilitate efforts to sell the lawyer’s practice pursuant to the provisions of Rule 1.17 of the Illinois Rules of Professional Conduct."
The study concluded that the plans are not designed only for sole practitioners.
"Although the dangers are most acute with sole practitioners, lawyers who practice in firms should also establish procedures for disaster contingencies as numbers do not guarantee safety in the modern world," the release states.