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A Conversation on Maintaining a Solo/Small Practice During a Short Term Disability

Credit(s): 1.25 CLE Credits
Course Number: DL-687
Original Program Date: March 28, 2013
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  • Abraham Lincoln said, "A lawyers time and advice are his stock in trade."  We have all heard this and few disagree with it. We generally take for granted that we will have the time to dispense the advice as we ply our trade.


    Few, if any, of us spend much time considering the possibility that our time may be interrupted and lost for a while.  We are not talking retiring or dying here as those situations have considerations that are fairly obvious and we all anticipate at least one, but hopefully both as certainties.


    It is when we have a short term loss of time, for our discussion a disability, that the answers to the question, "What do I do now?" are less clear.


    This program is intended to start the thought process for practitioners as to what to do in these situations, even though we are each sure it will not happen to us.



    I.    Becoming aware of the disability

            a.  Accident (No advance warning at all)
            b.  Illness (Gradual onset)

    II.    Analysis

            a.  "What has happened?"

            b.  "How long will it last?"

    III.  Issues

            a.     Case Management

        i.  Current cases

             1. Hearings

             2. Filings due

             3. Client appointments

             4. Notice to clients

             5. Letters of Protection

             6. Substitute counsel

        ii.  New cases

             1. Meeting with new clients

               2. Acceptance of new cases

             3. Notice to prospective new clients

            b. Office Considerations

                i.    Staff responsibilities

                ii.  Office hours

                iii.  Communication and work from home

                iv.  Maintaining CLE and professional requirements and dues


    IV.  Ethical considerations

            a.  Supreme Court directive

            b.  Client information and case management


    V.    Practical Considerations

            a. Your physical limitations

            b. Scheduling Medical appointments

            c. Financial limitations

                i.  Defer debt Payments

                ii.  Reduce staff time

                iii. Limit optional expenditures

            d. Psychological and spiritual impact of your health issue

            e. Family Considerations; how they impact your practice now


    VI.  Office Emergency Plan

            a. Your Personal "Emergency Plan"

            b. Your office "Emergency Plan"

                  i. Staff communications
            c. Plan for substitute counsel

            d. Review Health insurance plan

            e. Review short term and long term insurance plan

            f.  Listen to your doctor, follow his/her advice


    DON'T stress over it. But NEVER presume it will not happen to you.

    1.25 CLE Credits
    Jill C. Rothstein, Risk Management Director

    Jill Rothstein is the Risk Management Director at the South Carolina Bar, where she advises South Carolina attorneys on various facets of risk management, ethics and professional responsibility. She holds a JD degree from the University of South Carolina School of Law and a BA in English, Political Science and Communications from Meredith College. She is a member of the Society of Human Resources Managers, the John Belton O’Neall Inn of Court, the ABA Center for Professional Responsibility and the National Association of Pro Bono Professionals. Jill lives in Columbia, SC with her husband and two children.

    David D. Cantrell, Jr.

    David was born and raised in Easley, S.C., son of DeVore and Ruth Cantrell.  He is a 1970 graduate of Easley High School, a 1974 graduate of Wofford College and a 1977 graduate of the University of South Carolina Law School.  He was admitted to the South Carolina State Bar in May of 1977.  Since that time, in addition, to his private practice, he has been an Assistant Solicitor of the 13th Judicial Circuit Solicitor's Office, Easley City Judge, a city prosecutor and town attorney.  He is currently a contract Public Defender for Pickens County.  He completed the South Carolina Family Court Mediation Training in 2005.

     David is married to the former Linda Mathews.  They have seven children and twelve grandchildren.  David, Linda and Heather attend Easley First United Methodist Church, where David has attended since birth.

     David is a member of the South Carolina Bar (Where he is a member of the Consumer Law, Family Law and Solo and Small Practice Sections, is on the Conventions Committee and is on the Executive Council for the Senior Lawyers' Division), the Pickens County Bar (Current President), the South Carolina Bankruptcy Law Association.  He also participates regularly in the Bar's Ask-A-Lawyer and Pro Bono Programs.

    He has practiced in the Easley area for over 35 years and practice primarily in the areas of Consumer Bankruptcy (Chapter 7 and 13), Criminal Law, Family Court and personal injuries.

    David's wife, Linda, is his Secretary and Office Manager, and is the one really responsible for how well the office runs.  She saw him through his unexpected "disability" and surgery in September, 2012.

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