January 2019 • Volume 107 • Number 1 • Page 8
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Getting Your House in Order
ISBA's Financial Health & Wellness Subcommittee to offer resources for retiring lawyers looking to sell their practice.
Our emphasis on wellness this bar year extends beyond physical and mental health. Your financial health also is among our top priorities. Along these lines, I am pleased to report that the Financial Health & Wellness Subcommittee is off to a good start.
The subcommittee is planning programs that will feature financial counselors and business-valuation experts. Many lawyers-especially solo practioners and small-town lawyers-fail to plan ahead for the sale of their law practice. Such plans cannot be created overnight. In my case, it was a three-year process that involved identifying a buyer, finding the best vehicle to finance the purchase, and determining the appropriate price of the practice.
During the process, I encountered several factors that required careful consideration and planning, among them:
1) Identifying and educating a motivated associate who had the desire to own a business;
2) Agreeing to a debt structure that would allow the associate to purchase the business on an installment basis;
3) Shoring up the firm's existing clients and preparing them for the transition of the practice's sale; and
4) Assisting the associate in financing the buyout.
All of these factors took time, patience, and a willingness to compromise. For example, people often will overvalue their interests in a business that they are trying to sell. This can make reaching a mutually beneficial result difficult.
This year, we will call on lawyers who concentrate on estate planning, financial planning, and those with experience in selling a law practice. We believe this aspect of health and wellness will be beneficial to lawyers who would like to transition out of the practice of law and begin the next phase of life. In that vein, Past-President Russell W. Hartigan will chair a Transition Committee that will work closely with the Succession and Transition Planning Committee, chaired by John Phipps. Together, the two committees will create guidelines and suggestions for our senior lawyers who are interested in transitioning out of the practice of law.
The subcommittee also is pursuing plans to support younger members with advice on retirement funds; health, life, and long-term care insurance; and student loan debt.
It is our hope these efforts continue throughout 2019 and well beyond. These are vital issues for ISBA members who deserve the best advice and guidance we can gather.
Lastly, I wish all of you a very happy new year.