Sometimes you have to be away from the office for an extended time because of a health issue, personal matter or unexpected crisis. Other times you need some time off for mental health reasons.
Either way, it helps to have an Extended Leave Policy in your law office.
“Clients and staff need to understand the situation in advance of your extended leave,” says Lawyers Mutual. “Preparing them in advance will prevent questions and frustration during your time away from the office.”
Lawyers Mutual has a free Extended Leave Policy risk management guide for download here. The guide is a tool:
- To instruct attorneys on the steps needed before taking a leave of absence.
- To help with client communication.
- To help with staff training.
- To use as a topic at a firm meeting or retreat.
Why choose Lawyers Mutual for your financial protection? One reason is experience. Lawyers Mutual has been in business since 1977 and insures more than 8000 lawyers in North Carolina. We’ve been providing continuous protection from professional liability to NC lawyers longer than any other insurance company. Another reason is stability. The company’s financial strength is absolute. Since 1999, Lawyers Mutual has paid dividends fourteen times, with more than $8 million dollars returned to policyholders since 2011. Want even more reasons? Visit our website, give us a call, or ask a colleague why Lawyers Mutual is the smart choice for liability coverage.
10 Tips from Lawyers Mutual on Extended Leave
- File for Secured Leave (Rule 26, North Carolina General Rules of Practice) as early as practical. Provide copies to all courts and counsel you have active cases with, as well as the public defender’s office, prepaid legal programs, or any other entity which appoints, refers or assigns cases to you. Check local rules for any additional requirements. If practical, alert clients in two ways – by phone and in writing by mail or email. This minimizes the chance of a client later saying you did not tell them you would be gone. Give them ample notice so they can contact you prior to your departure, if necessary (Don’t email them on your way out the door.)
- Provide a brief status report on their case – especially if they have a court date coming up.
- Notify professional contacts. If you are a real estate attorney, let your key realtors, lenders and underwriters know your leave dates. If you have a civil litigation firm, contact the insurance adjusters you have open cases with. Think about who might be looking for you while you are gone.
- Notify your malpractice carrier. Discuss your plan with them to make sure you have your bases covered.
- Prepare employees. Communicate the details of your leave and this checklist with staff. Ensure they are on message with what clients are to be told about your absence. Make sure arrangements are made in advance for them to receive regular paychecks and that payroll tax deposits and benefit payments are made.
- Print a Master List. Run a report from your case management system. Take a printed list of client names and contact info with you and leave a copy where someone else can access it.
- Create case status summaries for each open file. This can be done using your case management system or a simple Word document. If an emergency arises, another attorney should be able to pick up a file and determine the status, how to reach the client, etc.
- Arrange for collection of mail. Do you have a post office box? Do you receive mail in your office such that it cannot be delivered if your door is locked?
- Use online bill-pay or auto-draft for items becoming due while you are out, or label payments to be mailed by someone else on the appropriate dates. Decide how to handle incoming payments. Is there someone who can open your mail and deposit checks?
- Update voicemail and email out-of-office messages. Make it clear whether you are checking messages, and if so, when clients can anticipate a response.
Everyone makes mistakes. When it happens to you, Lawyers Mutual has your back. For nearly half a century, Lawyers Mutual has been the smart choice for professional liability coverage for North Carolina attorneys. We cover the state from Murphy to Manteo. We insure large firms, solo practitioners and everyone in between. We help new lawyers enter the profession with confidence, and we help keep seasoned veterans safe and successful. The numbers speak for themselves. Lawyers Mutual has been in business since 1977, making us the only insurance carrier to provide continuous protection over that period. Today we insure more than 8000 lawyers in North Carolina. Most of them will stick with us until they retire. Why? Because they know we are here for them today and will be here tomorrow, bringing protection and peace of mind in turbulent times. Visit our website, give us a call, or ask a colleague why Lawyers Mutual is the smart choice for liability coverage.