Lawyers should review ABA Rule 1.17 before buying or selling a legal practice. Some states have enacted versions of ABA Rule 1.17. Lawyers are urged to consult with ethics counsel.
ABA Rule 1.17: Client-Lawyer Relationship
A lawyer or a law firm may sell or purchase a law practice, or an area of law practice, including good will, if the following conditions are satisfied:
(a) The seller ceases to engage in the private practice of law, or in the area of practice that has been sold, [in the geographic area] [in the jurisdiction] (a jurisdiction may elect either version) in which the practice has been conducted;
(b) The entire practice, or the entire area of practice, is sold to one or more lawyers or law firms;
(c) The seller gives written notice to each of the seller's clients regarding:
(1) the proposed sale;
(2) the client's right to retain other counsel or to take possession of the file; and…