The Three “Big Scaries” for Senior Colleagues:  A Memoir on What I’ve Learned as a Psychologist and Attorney

A. Steven Frankel, Ph.D., J.D.
ABPP Certified, Clinical & Forensic Psychology
California Psychologist PSY 3354
California Attorney 192014
District of Columbia Attorney 1009135

         So my phone rings, about six years ago, and a very senior (and distinguished) colleague tells me that s/he’s received notification from her/his licensing board that a complaint has been filed against her/him, and that s/he wants me to represent her/him as his attorney.  I meet with her/him in person and I learn that s/he’s 85 years old, still actively practicing and that the complainant was angry at her/him because the colleague made a custody recommendation that deprived the complainant of what he wanted.

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Good News (Maybe) About Bad News:

California joins four other states that allow terminally ill people to end their lives: what can we learn from the track records?

A.Steven Frankel, Ph.D., J.D., and Adam Alban, Ph.D., J.D.

On June 9, 2016, California’s “End of Life Option Act” (SB 128) was enacted into law.  The new law specifically includes a role for “mental health experts,” limited to psychologists and psychiatrists.

What the law says:

The law provides, for California residents aged 18 or older and who have been properly diagnosed with a terminal illness, projected to result in death within six months and whose capacity to elect to end their lives is not impaired, to receive prescriptions for drugs that will end their lives. The law includes provisions for such individuals to change their minds about their decisions, and requires that health care professionals who may prescribe the life-ending medications assert that their patients have the capacity to make life-ending decisions. The patient must also be able to self-administer the medications.

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Steve Frankel, Ph.D., JD is Honored By CPA

Practice- Legacy is proud to announce:
 Our founder, Steve Frankel, Ph.D., J.D., will receive the California Psychological Association (CPA)
Distinguished Contribution to Psychology as a Profession Award
at the CPA annual convention on
Friday, April 25, 2015, in San Diego



Steve’s CV Considered by CPA:

Feel free to congratulate Steve directly:

Mark E. Roseman, J.D.

Executive Director

     Practice-Legacy Programs

Professional Wills . . .

Denial is Great, but Our Patients, Families and Colleagues Need Our Attention – First in a series of articles on “professional wills, wonts and won’ts.”

A. Steven Frankel, Ph.D., J.D.[i]

I’m writing to you two months after turning 71 years of age.  I’ve been a licensed, practicing psychologist in California since 1970, I am an attorney at law in legal practice since 1997. and am a member of both the California and D.C. Bars.

This is the first in a series of articles I’ve been welcomed to write for your Newsletter on the topic of planning for/ and/or coping with an unanticipated terminations of practice, due to death or disability.  You might not be surprised by the tendency to turn the page in this Newsletter, to see what else might be fun to read, but try to hang in there for at least a few more sentences so I can tell you how I got to be the person who’s raising this issue with and for you.

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2: Partnership Approach

“I’ll do it for you if you’ll do it for me.” The Partnership Approach
to Professional Wills, Wonts and Won’ts.
A. Steven Frankel, Ph.D., J.D.i

Welcome to the second article on ways to address the problem of how to prepare for unanticipated disruptions or terminations of practice due to death or disability. In this article, I address a way of approaching the problem that has been around the longest in our fields – the professional partnership model.

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3: “T-E-A-M, YAY, TEAM!”

“T-E-A-M, YAY, TEAM!” The Team Approach to Professional
Wills, Wonts and Won’ts.
A. Steven Frankel, Ph.D., J.D.i

Welcome to the Third article on ways to address the problem of preparing for unanticipated disruptions or terminations of practice due to death or disability. In this article, I address a more efficient way of approaching the problem, which has developed to help manage the overwhelming set of tasks to be done when a colleague dies or becomes disabled than having one partner at work – the team approach.

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4 Insurance Model

“We Do It All For You”: a Quasi-Insurance Approach to
Wills, Wonts and Won’ts.
A. Steven Frankel, Ph.D., J.D.i

Welcome to the fourth and final article on ways to address the problem of preparing for unanticipated disruptions or terminations of practice due to death or disability. In this article, I address a most efficient and effective way of approaching the problem – an approach which has developed as a result of the
view that, given the enormity of the task, colleagues need considerable support in order to fulfill the legal/ethical responsibility to prepare for thee transitioning of practices when colleagues die or become disabled – a quasi-insurance approach. Currently all medical malpractice insurance companies are focused on “risk management” or “prevention.” The program I write about in this article and its options are risk prevention tools for the new world order where people continue to function into what used to be called “advanced age”. Insurance plans typically respond with funds or funded services when a condition which is covered by a policy occurs. The quasi-insurance approach to the problem of dealing with sudden disruptions of practices goes a step further, in that it funds an annual visit with a psychiatrist-colleague with at least 20 years of practice experience, who has been trained to assess practices and to facilitate
transitions when the time comes for transition services. That colleague is termed a “Transition Specialist”

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  1. Don’t keep your plans a secret:
    When patient/clients, family & colleagues know that you have thought about and planned for the management of your practice in the event that you cannot continue to work, they respect and admire you and feel safe and cared for. The failure to live up to an ethical/legal responsibility paints you in a negative light, hurting all who have relationships with you.
  2. Discuss the professional(s) who might best provide ongoing care for your patients/clients in advance of need.
    Finding the “right” clinician is never an easy task, and both talking about and listing clinicians who you might recommend for each patient/client saves time, effort and helps patients/clients feel safe and cared about.
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“We are delighted to receive their endorsement as recognition of the diligence and effort committed to bringing forth a comprehensive offering to assist practitioners and their patients with transition services during unexpected practice closures”, said Steve Frankel, President of Practice-Legacy.

We are offering PRMS insureds custom planing and transition services to meet the needs of their unique practices, ensuring legal and ethical compliance when transitioning care and winding down a psychiatric practice in unanticipated or emergent situations such as severe illness or death.

About PRMS:

Professional Risk Management Services, Inc., an indirect wholly owned subsidiary of Alleghany Corporation (NYSE:Y), specializes in medical professional liability insurance programs and claims and risk management services – on a bundled and unbundled basis – for individual healthcare providers, group practices, facilities, associations and organizations. With long standing client relationships and national capabilities, PRMS develops, delivers and implements customized programs and services including underwriting, risk management and litigation management.


1. Licensing Boards’ views about converting  files:   Thinking of Converting Your Paper Files to Electronic Files?  

2. Lost your briefcase and clients’ record ?  What the law in California requires you to do. Following California’s Data Breach Notification Law 

3. Worried about reviews on opinion websites such as Yelp? Great idea from Keely Kolmes Psy D 

January 4, 2014 – We commence the year with a resounding sense of purpose! We have been fortunate to receive support from multiple organizations, practitioners and patients and continue our efforts to raise awareness and assist with transition plans in the event of an unanticipated disability or death of a mental health practitioner.

We have many new articles that will be published this quarter. To learn more about issues and solutions please reference our published (and soon to be published) articles on our Published Articles page.


November 6, 2013 – Steve has been welcomed to write a series of four articles on practice transitions for the Senior Psychiatrists’ Lifers’ Line Newsletter.  The first, a chronology of my awareness of and creation of solutions to the problem of practice transitions can be found in our series “professional wills, wonts and won’ts.”


Washington, DC, October 4, 2013