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Tidy up your firm before you sell it

Posted by Gene Turner on 31-Aug-2023 09:40:47

Old Office

When selling a house, an owner has a choice about whether to sell the house "as is, where is" or to do it up before putting it on the market.

It might seem like an unnecessary amount of cost and effort to replace the kitchen, bathroom, and 20-year-old carpet when you won't be the one who is around to enjoy using it. Why not just let the new owner put things in how they want them?

But not everybody in the market to buy a house wants to go through the whole effort of a significant renovation. Those that do are probably DIY renovators looking for a bargain. The number of people willing to take on a significant renovation while paying full value is much lower.

Given the choice, many people think it's easier and better to build their own home exactly as they want rather than try and retrofit it into someone else's home and clean up someone else's mess.

Similar issues apply when selling a law firm.

An established law firm has many advantages, particularly in having an established client base and income stream. However, if the firm – like many are - is still running in much the same way that it was 20 years ago, younger lawyers who are looking to step out of being an employee and into their own firm are likely to only see a lot of extra work to try and change the way that the older firm works. Why not just set up a modern firm, using the latest cloud technology, from scratch and then win clients over by offering better solutions? Having an attractive – and expensive – office is a disadvantage, not a benefit, when people want to be able to work from anywhere.

The option for partners of existing firms that want to sell or retire and capture as much value from the asset they have built is to look at what renovations could and should be done to their firm to make it as attractive as possible for incoming owners. And then to do that work in advance so it's clearly all in and working well by the time a potential acquirer starts their investigations.

If younger lawyers can see:

  • an established client base
  • an appropriate cost structure without unnecessary overheads
  • all the systems they would have chosen to put in themselves if setting up a new firm
  • some digitised solutions already earning subscription revenue,

it has to be a more attractive proposition.

It's the reason franchising is so popular – people want to be able to step into something that is already built, systematised and running very well.

Our LawX NZ collaborators, Emma Stanley and Emily Morrow, are ideally placed to help firms with this transition. Emily is an expert in strategic succession planning for lawyers, as you can see in this video with another LawX expert Simon Tupman:

Emma already helps younger lawyers with planning and implementing the establishment of a new law firm. She can also, just as easily if the existing partners are willing to change, help an established firm to make the same choices.

Working with experts like Emily, Emma and Simon would make it easier to identify and introduce like-minded younger lawyers looking for opportunities to step into established practices that have already been renovated to fit modern expectations.

Topics: Legal Technology, Law Firm Management, Law Firm Strategy

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