Oklahoma Bar Journal

A Checklist for Closing Your Law Office

This article was adapted from the Planning Ahead Guide: Attorney Transition Planning in the Event of Death or Incapacity available on the OBA website.

  • Calculate accounts receivable. Ensure sufficient cash is on hand or a sufficient amount will be coming in to sustain you through the announcement and closure of your office.

    Africa Studio | #82416189 | stock.adobe.com

  • Stop taking new matters.
  • Inform your staff, in person and in writing.
  • Provide your staff with a simple, truthful reason for the closure.
  • Finalize as many active files as possible.
  • Write to clients with active files, advising them that you are unable to continue representing them and that they need to retain new counsel. Your letter should inform them about time limitations and time frames important to their cases. The letter should explain how and where they can pick up copies of their files and should give a deadline for doing this.
  • For cases with pending court dates, depositions or hearings, discuss with the clients how to proceed. When appropriate, request extensions, continuances and resetting of hearing dates. Send written confirmations of these extensions, continuances and resets to opposing counsel and your client.
  • Obtain your clients’ permission to submit a motion and order to withdraw as attorney of record.
  • If a client is obtaining a new attorney, be certain that a substitution of attorney is filed.
  • Pick an appropriate date to check whether all cases either have a motion and order allowing your withdrawal as attorney of record or have a substitution of attorney filed with the court.
  • Give notice and terminate leases and rental agreements.
  • Make copies of files for clients. Retain your original files, unless it makes more sense to provide the client with the original file – for example, for an ongoing case. All clients should either pick up their files (and sign a receipt acknowledging they received them) or sign an authorization for you to release the files to their new attorneys. (SeeA Guide to File Retention and Destruction” in this issue of the Oklahoma Bar Journal. You may use the “Acknowledgment of Receipt of File and Authorization for Transfer of Client File” form provided in Chapter 4 of the OBA’s Planning Ahead Guide.[1]) If a client is picking up the file, return their original documents to the client and keep copies in your file. You may scan and digitally store your documents, but be careful to keep original documents that may be helpful to you in the event of a dispute with a client, eg., fee agreement, letters, etc. An original may be preferred for evidentiary purposes. Create a log as to the disposition of every file, e.g., delivered to a client, stored, transferred to a new attorney, etc.
  • Tell all clients where their closed files will be stored and whom they should contact to retrieve them. Obtain all clients’ permission, if you have not already, to destroy the files after five years following the end of the representation (but review the file to determine if special circumstances require keeping the file longer). If a closed file is to be stored by another attorney, get the client’s permission to allow the attorney to store the file for you, and provide the client with the attorney’s name, address and phone number.
  • If you are a sole practitioner, ask the telephone company for a new phone number to be given out when your disconnected phone number is called. This eliminates the problem created when clients call your phone number, get a recording stating the number is disconnected and do not know where else to turn for information.
  • Close IOLTA accounts and distribute to yourself fees (if earned) and/or the minimal amount you deposited for bank charges or to the clients or third parties. Notify the OBA and the Oklahoma Bar Foundation of the closure within 30 days. ORPC 1.15 (SeeClosing Your IOLTA Account: A Checklist” in this issue of the Oklahoma Bar Journal).
  • Notify the postal service and provide a forwarding address.
  • Consult with your malpractice carrier regarding extended reporting or “tail” coverage. (See the article “Considering Closing Your Practice? Protect Yourself From Malpractice Claims When You Wind Up” in this issue of the Oklahoma Bar Journal.)
  • Notify the OBA of new contact information within 30 days of office closure.
  • Prepare instructions in the event of your later death, incapacity or disappearance.


[1] Planning Ahead Guide: Attorney Transition Planning in the Event of Death or Incapacity, available on the OBA website.

Originally published in the Oklahoma Bar Journal – OBJ 94 Vol 4 (April 2023)

Statements or opinions expressed in the Oklahoma Bar Journal are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect those of the Oklahoma Bar Association, its officers, Board of Governors, Board of Editors or staff.