For years, staff and associates at McLaughlin & Lauricella had been asking the firm’s leadership to develop a transition plan in case one of them unexpectedly parted ways with the firm, according to founder and partner Paul Lauricella.

But Lauricella and partner Slade McLaughlin didn’t think it was necessary, carrying the same mindset that characterizes many small litigation practices—that any problems arising at the firm could be handled on the same “handshake basis” and mutual respect between the name partners that had governed the firm’s operations since they opened in 2011.