Two Great ISBA Member Benefits Sponsored by
ISBA Mutual Lawyers Malpractice Insurance
view counter
A Value of $1,344, Included with Membership
Free CLE
view counter
view counter

Best Practice: Options for sole owners looking to retire

Asked and Answered

By John W. Olmstead, MBA, Ph.D, CMC

Q. I am a lawyer from the Carbondale area. Last week I attended your Illinois State Bar Association CLE Webinar - Law Practice Succession and Transition - Ideas for Getting Started. I am 66 years old and I fit the "Sole Owner" model that you discussed. I am the practice. I have one associate and one legal assistant and my associate has neither the desire or the ability to take over my practice. I am tired and want to retire by the end of the year. With no successors in sight, I am thinking I should just close the doors. I welcome your thoughts.

A. It could come to that if you cannot find someone interested in taking over your practice. However, I would at least try to see if you can find another lawyer or law firm to buy or otherwise takeover your practice - preferably "buy". Start now as it often takes a year. Make a short list, make some phone calls, have some lunches, get to know some folks, and see what kind of interest there might me. Keep a continual momentum going. Since you are the practice - this will be a concern to a potential buyer especially if you are unwilling to stay on after the sale in a consultative transition capacity. You might want to rethink your timeline - otherwise you may have to simply close the doors and refer out the work and strike the best arrangement that you can.

Click here for a link to my book - The Lawyers Guide to Succession Planning - published this week by ABA

Click here for our blog on succession

Click here for out articles on various management topics

John W. Olmstead, MBA, Ph.D, CMC, ( is a past chair and member of the ISBA Standing Committee on Law Office Management and Economics. For more information on law office management please direct questions to the ISBA listserver, which John and other committee members review, or view archived copies of The Bottom Line Newsletters. Contact John at

Posted on February 3, 2016 by Chris Bonjean
Filed under: 

Member Comments (1)

Unless the practitioner is ill, I believe there is a duty to securely destroy client files and give the clients an opportunity to come and get their file before one "closes the door."