The NYS Workers' Compensation Board has developed the following guidance with respect to various scenarios involving firm or attorney changes.
Scenario: Firm A and Firm B merge to form a New Firm C.
If Firm C will be operating under an FEIN different than that of Firm A or Firm B, then a New R Number must be assigned to Firm C. OC-400 (Notice of Substitution) forms must be filed by all clients of Firm A, and all clients of Firm B, who wish to be represented by the attorneys of newly formed Firm C. Attorneys of Firm C will access eCase through the administrator named by the firm. It is noted that an individual eCase user can only belong to one firm.
*** Conversely, if Firm C will be operating under the same FEIN as Firm A (for example), OC-400 (Notice of Substitution) forms need only be filed by clients of Firm B. Firm A will only be undergoing a name change in this scenario (see example of a "name change" only below) ***
Scenario: Attorney X leaves Firm A to form a new Firm B.
Attorney X will need to file an OC-400 (Notice of Substitution) form for each client of Firm A that has elected to retain Attorney X/Firm B. Attorney X will no longer be permitted eCase access to Firm A cases, unless permitted by the Administrator for Firm A. Attorney X will need to obtain a new R Number for Firm B.
Scenario: Firm GHI takes over Firm JKL.
In this scenario, Firm GHI will remain and presumably will retain the same FEIN. Firm JKL will dissolve. The clients of dissolved Firm JKL will be subsumed by Firm GHI. However, for this to happen, the GHI firm must file notice of substitution for each claimant that was formerly represented by Firm JKL. R Number for Firm JKL will be maintained for historical purposes only and will not be reassigned. eCase access for Firm JKL will be terminated.
Scenario: Firm CDE is dissolving.
The Board will maintain the R number of Firm CDE for historical purposes and will not reassign. eCase access by firm CDE will be terminated upon informing the Board of its dissolution. OC-400 (Notice of Substitution) forms should be filed by the clients of Firm CDE for substitute counsel.
Scenario: Law Firm ABC changes its name to Firm ABD, as attorney C has left the firm, and attorney D has been named partner.
If the FEIN has not been changed, and this is truly only a name change, it can be made by contacting the Board's Customer Support Unit in order to change the firm's name from Firm ABC to Firm ABD. The R Number will remain the same. No changes will occur with respect to eCase. There will be no need for clients of Firm ABC firm to file OC-400 (Notice of Substitution) forms with the Board to acknowledge the change of the firm's name to Firm ABD.
Scenario: Firm LMNOP is starting up, and has just been assigned a new FEIN.
The Board will need to assign a new R Number to Firm LMNOP. eCase access will have to be applied for by Firm LMNOP, and an eCase Administrator named. Any new workers' compensation clients brought in by the firm will need to file an OC-400 (Notice of Retainer) form with the Board.
INDIVIDUAL ATTORNEY ISSUES:
Scenario: Attorney A leaves Firm UVW to join Firm XYZ.
R Numbers are not implicated; UVW's R Number remains the same as does XYZ's. To the extent claimants wish to substitute Firm XYZ for Firm UVW, Attorney A will have to file OC-400 (Notice of Substitution) forms with the Board. Once Attorney A acquires eCase access to XYZ firm's cases, she will no longer be able to access UVW firm cases.
Scenario: Attorney P is a member of Firm ABC. Attorney P dies unexpectedly.
eCase access should be suspended to Attorney P. The cases that Attorney P worked on are owned by Firm ABC. If a claimant wishes to substitute another attorney for Firm ABC, he or she must file an OC-400 (Notice of Substitution) form. R Numbers are not implicated in this scenario.
Scenario: Attorney D is a member of Firm ABC. Attorney D is disbarred.
eCase access should be suspended to Attorney D. The cases that Attorney D worked on are owned by Firm ABC. If a claimant wishes to substitute another firm for Firm ABC, he or she must file an OC-400 (Notice of Substitution) form. R Numbers are not implicated in this scenario.