We are a two lawyer firm in New Orleans. We are both partners in the firm. We have 5 staff members. My partner is 68 and I am 63. Recently, we have starting thinking about what we are going to do with the practice in the next few years and we aren't sure where to start. Do you have any thoughts along these lines?
You will need to consider whether you should consider merger, sale of the practice to an outside buyer, or sale of the firm to the other lawyers in the firm that you bring in and grow over the next few years. You need to find ways to institutionize the firm so that in additional to professional goodwill (your personal reputation and goodwill) you develop practice goodwill (goodwill of the firm that will remain after you have left the firm). If you bring in other lawyers develop them and create a desire and motivation for them to want to be owners/partners in the firm. Develop your staff and practice systems. Diversify and stabilize your client base.
If you decide to sell to attorneys in the firm – begin the process early so that most of the buy-in is completed before your actually leave the firm. The longer the planning horizon – the easier they buy-in burden will be for others.
John W. Olmstead, MBA, Ph.D, CMC