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Lawyer Sells Practice

If selling a law practice, see Rule 1.17, SCRPC.

(a) A lawyer or a law firm may sell or purchase a law practice, including good will, if the following conditions are satisfied:

1. The seller ceases to engage in the private practice of law in the geographical area in which the seller's practice has been conducted;

2. The practice is sold as an entirety to another lawyer or law firm;

3. Written notice is given each of the seller's active clients regarding:

(i) the proposed sale;
(ii) the terms of any proposed change in the fee arrangement authorized by paragraph (b);
(ii) the client's right to retain other counsel or to take possession of the client's file;
(iv) the fact that the client's consent to the sale will be presumed if the client does not take any action or does not otherwise object within forty-five (45) days of the date of the mailing of the notice; and

(4) A notice is published in a newspaper of general circulation in the geographical area in which the practice has been conducted regarding:

(i) the proposed sale;
(ii) the client's right to retain other counsel or to take possession of the client's file;
(iii) the fact that active clients will be or have been given written notice regarding the proposed sale and that their consent to the sale will be presumed if they do not take any action or object within forty-five (45) days of the date of mailing of the written notice;
(iv) the fact that the selling lawyer will retain the files of inactive clients unless those clients give permission for the transfer of their files or, if the parties to the sale elect to give written notice to an inactive client in the manner provided by paragraph (a)(3) above, the inactive client's consent to the sale will be presumed if the client does not take any action or does not otherwise object within forty-five (45) days of the date of the mailing of the notice.

(b) The fees charged clients shall not be increased by reason of the sale. The purchaser may, however, refuse to undertake representation unless the client consents to pay the purchaser fees at a rate not exceeding the fees charged by the purchaser for rendering substantially similar service prior to the initiation of the purchase negotiations.

(c) The agreement for the sale of a law practice may include reasonable restrictions on the seller's rights to practice without violating Rule 5.6.