Closing versus Selling a Law Practice: Why Not Get Money for Your Efforts?

Are you a solo lawyer or small-firm owner facing retirement? Then, like most Boomer lawyers out there, you’re contemplating the option of selling your law practice.

But perhaps you’ve talked with a few buddies and read a few articles you found on Google on the subject? If so, you may have prematurely concluded, as many other Boomers have, that selling your practice sounds like too much of a hassle. You’re likely thinking, “I’m just going to shut it down. That’ll be a lot easier.”

I’m not going to sugarcoat this for you. Finding the right buyer and determining the best way to transition the practice to your newfound successor can be a hassle. But I can assure you that to “shut ‘er down” is no walk in the park. Trust me, properly closing a law practice is also a hassle. (Don’t believe me? Just run another Google search; you’ll see what I mean.)

Closing & Selling Require Most of the Same Efforts

Here are just some of the many items you will need to address to close your law practice:

  • Notify clients
  • Transfer active files to other counsel
  • Store, return or destroy old files (just doing this is often a nightmare)
  • Close out client trust accounts
  • Determine what, if any, malpractice coverage is needed
  • Dispose of hard assets (furniture, etc.)
  • Close out vendor contracts and equipment leases

This list is pretty much the same when you sell your practice. And the reality is both are a pain in the you-know-what.

Get Some Cash to Reward Your Efforts & Supplement Your Retirement

Our profession does not make it easy for solo lawyers and small-law-firm owners to ride off into the retirement sunset. But you can make that ride more pleasant by getting some money for your efforts. You won’t regret it—especially when you realize you can now afford the overseas travel that was originally beyond your retirement budget.

Dying at Your Desk Is Not the Right Answer

You may now be thinking you can avoid all the hassle of selling or closing by “dying at your desk.” There is some truth to that. You will avoid all the hassle. But items on the to-do list don’t just go away. Someone else will be forced to clean up your mess—usually your spouse or an unlucky colleague.

Don’t leave the end of your practice in the hands of someone who doesn’t know it as well as you. And don’t leave money on the table when your retirement is staring you in the face. Before you settle on simply closing up shop, be sure you weigh all the pros and cons of closing versus selling your practice. And never hesitate to reach out to an experienced advisor for detailed advice and guidance.

Our firm is glad we went through the strategic and succession planning process with Roy and have implemented many of his suggestions. Not surprisingly, some, though not all, of Roy’s ideas were things that I, as the firm’s leader, had wan…" Read the rest
– Managing partner, small central NE law firm

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