Takin’ it to the House: The Law Firm as Business – Fundamentals of Organizing and Setting up Your Firm’s Structure and Operation
NEW YORK, August 8, 2008 – Using hypotheticals based on two solo lawyers who are developing a partnership, a panel of experts addressed issues of structure form, employee benefit issues and initial agreements to outline the opportunities and potential problems that may face lawyers in their practice.
“Takin’ It to the House: The Law Firm as Business – Fundamentals of Organizing and Setting Up Your Firm’s Structure and Operation,” a program held Friday during the ABA Annual Meeting and sponsored by the General Practice, Solo and Small Firm Division, featured panelists Michele Aiken of Aiken & Aiken; Jeffrey F. Allen, CPA, MS, Amper, Politziner & Mattia, CPAs; and Arthur Greene of Boyer Greene LLC. Patrick Begos, of Begos Horgan & Brown, LLP; served as moderator in furthering the hypothetical along the growth line of the example firm.
Asked what he would do when sitting down with lawyers interested in merging their practices, Greene said he would first “hear their story,” and learn why the individuals involved wanted to merge as well as their hopes and aspirations for the practice. Creating an signing a written agreement and having to the two individuals discuss the business structure – i.e., corporation, limited liability partnership, etc. – were additional words of advice from Greene.
Allen spoke to the different types of structure, saying that he keeps his first meeting with clients “short and sweet.” The general consensus is that the limited liability partnership offers the greatest flexibility, he added.
Aiken encouraged lawyers to share their employee benefit philosophy with each other. In the example presented, hypothetical lawyer Adam was a 50-year old lawyer who – with a wife and family – had much different goals with respect to retirement than his new “partner,” Barbara, a young, single lawyer. That difference could mean a divergence in benefit philosophy.