New rule in Illinois — can now sell a law practice!

Stop the presses!

Illinois, one of the last major States to oppose the selling of a law practice has finally succumbed! You can now sell a law practice in Illinois. The Supreme Court, effective in May 2005 (I just learned of the new rule last Thursday at a meeting of the ABA in Chicago)adopted its own version of Rule 1.17 permitting the sale.

The Court did not adopt the recent modification from the ABA, but rather adopted a modification of the original rule.

Finally! Now lawyers no longer have to play games and create sham partnerships wherein one partner can buy-out the other partner under a retirment plan, this approach having been accepted. Form vs substance. Now lawyers can be above board. And, if the buying lawyer defaults on a pay-out arrangement, the selling lawyer will have standing in court to enforce the agreement.

Congratulations to John Phipps, one of the ardent supporters of the new professional rule. And thanks to Don Rikkli, an Illinois lawyer now deceased, who pushed so hard for this rule but whose widow could not sell Don’s practice when he died several years ago. And, in the background (often the foreground), congratulations to Alan DeWoskin, an attorney in St. Louis who was one of the significant movers to get the ABA to adopt its rule in 1991.


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