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Should Young Attorneys Ever Buy an Existing Law Practice?

By Andrew Lu | Last updated on

A quick way for an eager young attorney to start off with a book of business is to buy a law practice.

You may already know that doctors and clients frequently sell their practices to other doctors and dentists. But did you know that lawyers are increasingly selling and buying their practices too?

While this may have seemed unethical several years ago, the practice is becoming more common and accepted, writes Solo Contendere. So should you look into purchasing another attorney's practice?

First, you should figure out what it is you are buying. You can purchase a variety of assets when you buy another lawyer's firm. On the one hand, you can buy the name of the firm, office space, furniture, all the lawyer's contacts, and everything else. Basically, you just step into the shoes of the departing attorney. On the other hand, you could just purchase a discrete practice area or the right to contact the attorney's clients. Figure out exactly what it is you are buying.

Next, you should know that just because you buy another firm, this is no guarantee that you will make any money out of it. Clients don't have to retain you simply because you took over the firm. You may have to interview with individual clients to have them agree to keep you on. So do some research and understand the likelihood of retaining the departing attorney's clients.

Finally, be aware that you may have agreed to take on cases out of your depth. If you are taking over the firm of a retiring attorney, you have to fill in for all the years of experience and expertise. You may want to work out a mentorship agreement with the departing attorney, writes Solo Contendere. Otherwise, a lot of the cases you take on could become more trouble than they are worth.

After buying a practice, you should know that you may be subject to certain professional responsibility rules. For example, some states prohibit a successor attorney from raising fees for a year. Check these rules before making the purchase.

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