So who’s going to buy your Firm?

on 6 September, 2010 Email this Email this - Print this Print this

In the third of four articles, CoreLegal founder member Ray Fox (from the Bottom Line Consultancy) provides more insights into his specialist work as acting as a broker selling Law Firms.

It might be a bit trite and simplistic but the only people who are going to buy your Firm are likely to be another Law Firm or another Solicitor.

Suppose you owned a small Practice in my local town, High Wycombe.  Who would want to take over your Practice?  Possibly another Practice in High Wycombe.  Possibly a multi-site Practice that has offices in, say, Buckinghamshire, Berkshire or Oxfordshire.  Possibly a Practice in Oxford, Reading, Aylesbury or Slough.  Possibly a City Firm…

Perhaps your firm has an expertise that would be attractive to another Firm as a bolt-on.  Perhaps there is a Solicitor who is qualified in another jurisdiction but wants to buy a practice in England and re-qualify under English law.  Perhaps your staff are interested in buying you out.

Perhaps there are a couple of “City” Solicitors who are travelling into the City every day who are sick and tired of spending 4 hours travelling every day and would like to acquire a local practice to improve on their quality of life.

All of these are real examples of real Practices that I have sold – so don’t let anybody tell you that there’s no one interested in your Practice or that they won’t pay you anything for it.

The fun aspect of what I do is that there’s no telling who will be interested or when they’ll be interested.  It’s happened time and time again that I do a mailshot and then an email shot and then its repeated over and over again and then out of the blue, this same firm who might have had 8 or even 10 contacts suddenly decide that they’re interested.

So now, you’ve found your purchaser – what next?

Remember, there are two sides to a transaction.  What you might want is a large cheque up front.  The purchaser might want to stage the payments.  You might want to stay on as a consultant for a couple of years or so because you have financial commitments.

The Purchaser might want you to leave and never darken his/her door again.  Sometimes it’s the reverse – the Purchaser might want you to stay on to smooth the transition.  Anything’s possible.  Everything’s possible.

Remember also, that apart from the goodwill, you will also need to consider Work In Progress, your ongoing Professional Indemnity exposure, possible dilapidations, fixtures and fittings, the future of your existing staff, possible redundancies, disposal of property, etc.

Disposing of your business is never easy and is invariably an emotionally charged experience.  Don’t let the emotion of the experience detract from the skills you have as a dispassionate business person.

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Topics: Selling law firms
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