1. Client-Lawyer Relationship
Related Opinions

ER 1.17.     Sale of Law Practice

(a) A firm may sell or purchase a law practice, or a practice area of a firm, including good will, if the seller gives written notice to each of the seller's clients regarding:

(1) the proposed sale, including the identity of the purchaser;

(2) the client's right to retain other counsel or to take possession of the file; and

(3) the fact that the client's consent to the transfer of the client's files will be presumed if the client does not take any action or does not otherwise object within ninety (90) days of receipt of the notice.

(b) If a client cannot be given notice, the representation of that client may be transferred to the purchaser only upon entry of an order so authorizing by a court having jurisdiction.  The seller may disclose to the court in camera information relating to the representation only to the extent necessary to obtain an order authorizing the transfer of a file.

(c) A sale may not be financed by increases in fees charged to the clients of the practice. Existing arrangements between the seller and the client as to fees and the scope of the work must be honored by the purchaser.
(d) Before providing a purchaser access to detailed information relating to the representation, including client files, the seller must provide the written notice to a client as described above.
(e) Lawyers participating in the sale of a law practice or a practice area must exercise competence in identifying a purchaser qualified to assume the practice and the purchaser's obligation to undertake the representation competently, avoid disqualifying conflicts, and secure the client's informed consent for those conflicts that can be agreed to and the obligation to protect information relating to the representation.
(f) If approval of the substitution of the purchasing lawyer for a selling firm is required by the rules of any tribunal in which a matter is pending, such approval must be obtained before the matter can be included in the sale.
(g) This Rule does not apply to the transfers of legal representation between lawyers when such transfers are unrelated to the sale of a practice or an area of practice.