Sale of law practice o.k. in New Hampshire

Rule 1.17 was adopted this month in New Hampshire, effective January 1, 2008. It’s rule 1.17 provides, as does the ABA Model Rule 1.17, that an entire law practice, or an area of a law practice,  can be sold.  (Thanks to Bruce Dorner for the

NH takes a differing provision, however, from the ABA.  The selling lawyer cannot continue to practice in that area of law (or law entirely) in the State of New Hampshire!  This is an alternative to a covenant not to compete! And perhaps more effective than a covenant; this ban has no time or geographic (other than State boundaries) restrictions.

Let’s hope California, the first state explicitly allowing the sale of a law practice in 1989, stays simple as did the ABA, New Hampshire and others. The rule as it currently is being considered is convoluted beyond recognition. Lawyers in California, come to your senses.

Failure to be simple will merely encourage lawyers to create "mock" partnerships, then buy-out the "selling" partner, all without protection for clients that currently exist in the existing rule. The current rule works; don’t go backwards.


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