Responding to a Partner or Group Departure
Our highly experienced team has a deep understanding of the variety of issues law firms face in the wake of departures and transitions. We understand which issues to focus on and how to analyze the issues correctly. We consistently counsel law firms on how to protect clients and their interests — from ethical considerations to departure logistics, to anticipating, interpreting and resolving partnership obligations — to ensure a successful resolution for the firm.
We provide our clients with in-depth analysis on each issue, approaching these important legal and ethical considerations systematically. This gives the firm confidence to act and frees the firm to focus on its successful and demanding law practice, so the firm’s interests are protected when an attorney or group departs, or when a partner is asked to, or required to, transition out of the firm.
We advise law firms on all legal aspects of a potential partner or group departure, including the legal and ethical obligations of departing partners to the firm, as well as to clients. This often includes analyzing existing partnership or shareholder provisions and advising on critical components such as the scope and enforceability of non-solicitation clauses, non-compete clauses, liquidated damages provisions, and defense and indemnity provisions. We also analyze the scope of the partner’s potential liabilities to the firm in the event of a departure, how partnership shares will be valued and repurchased, and how other compensation will be distributed. This includes examining the partner’s fiduciary duties to the firm and to current clients at the early stages, when a partner departure is imminent.
Once a partner or group of attorneys gives notice of a departure, it is important for firm to handle this transition carefully and properly in order to enforce fiduciary and ethical obligations, to minimize risk, to enforce potential liabilities, and to protect, and avoid alienating, existing and potential clients. We advise firms on each aspect of the legal and ethical issues once a partner or group gives notice, until after they depart. This includes enforcing notice requirements to the law firm when it makes sense to do so, managing the announcement to existing and potential clients, handling client files and partnership property, and enforcing obligations under the partnership agreement or other rules.
Once a partner or group has left the firm, it benefits both the partner and the firm to resolve all legal and contractual aspects of their relationship as soon as possible. When necessary, our attorneys have broad experience negotiating separation agreements on behalf of partners to effectively resolve outstanding partnership issues, including potential liabilities to the partnership, compensation and distributions offsets, and other potential conflicts arising from or related to the partnership agreement.
Acquiring New Lateral Partners or Groups
Our experienced team also counsels and advises law firms and law-related businesses that are considering acquiring lateral additions to their firm or business. A law firm has numerous ethical and legal obligations to consider when considering or embarking upon a new relationship with a lateral partner, or group of lawyers and related potential clients and business contacts. These include knowing how to obtain client-specific, financial and practice information in a way that complies with relevant ethics rules, permits critical vetting, best protects the firm and maximizes the firm’s ability to properly evaluate potential hires and practice groups.
COUNSEL FOR PARTNERS, SHAREHOLDERS OR GROUPS DEPARTING A LAW FIRM
For partners or groups leaving a firm, we provide a comprehensive solution for partners departing a partnership – from pre-departure considerations, to departure logistics, to anticipating and resolving partnership obligations and getting paid – to ensure a successful transition to a new law firm. We also have significant experience providing advice and counsel to groups who leave their law firm to start up a new law firm with new partners.
From the very first day that you consider departing your law firm, you need counsel. You have fiduciary obligations to the partnership, ethical obligations to your clients, and expectations from your new firm. And departing a partnership often has a significant emotional component. To navigate all of these interests skillfully, and to successfully transition your practice to a new partnership, you need a comprehensive plan with experienced counsel guiding you at each step. That is where we come in.