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No Need to Fear the Legal Minefield

Posted on August 22, 2023 in Articles & Frank Taylor & Associates

We’ve discussed before that for many in the industry buying and/or selling their dental practice will be one of, if not the, biggest financial transaction of a lifetime, and what steps can be done to maximise that value. Of course, getting a good valuation is critical, but it means nothing unless it can be realised, and the deal can be done. This is where your lawyer comes in, they play a vital role in the specifics of the transaction.

Appointing a lawyer can fill many people with dread, either because the very need for one in the first place suggests some kind of conflict or adversarial situation requiring legal resolution or, more generally, because the law is complex, not always logical and the consequences of making a wrong or ill-informed decision can be serious. Add to this the costs and it’s easy to see why it can seem a minefield.

Lis Hughes of Frank Taylor & Associates (FTA) argues this need not be the case. “It’s understandable, but all those fears can be allayed with the appointment of a good lawyer. What is important is to understand what good looks like in terms of when it comes to appointing your lawyer.”

“Firstly, specialist knowledge of the sector. You may have a lawyer you have used perfectly well to manage your or your family’s wills, or to undertake conveyancing on a domestic property sale, but that does not mean they have the experience or knowledge of some of the nuances in the dental sector. I’d strongly recommend someone who has successfully completed sales/purchases of dental practices in the past. Of course, your own network may be able to provide a recommendation, but at Frank Taylor & Associates we are also happy to provide you with some guidance. Your lawyer can help structure the deal and protect you with clauses such as guarantees or warranties, and to structure the deal in an appropriate way.”

“Secondly there is an old saying, “you buy cheap, you buy twice”. Cost is obviously an important consideration, but more important is value. Cheapest isn’t necessarily the best. Of course, specialist knowledge of the sector won’t come cheap but in the long run it may save you as you do not need to renegotiate or rewrite contracts after the sale, or find yourself tied in to onerous clauses of which you weren’t fully aware. That said, this isn’t intended to fill potential buyers or sellers with dread at the prospect of the cost. Again, at FTA we can advise you, but the key consideration is value for money and experience, rather than pure cost”.

“Like a residential property sale, the transaction to buy or sell a dental practice can be a protracted process. If a deal collapses part way through, you will have incurred some legal costs for nothing, and be back at square one, naturally this reinforces my earlier point about value for money, but crucially you want to make sure you have a lawyer who is committed and able to see everything through. In many ways you will be looking for the same characteristics in your lawyer as when recruiting staff to certain roles within your practice. Experience – they have done deals before and know how to do them again. Resilience – they will not be demoralised or overwhelmed by every hurdle, but regard them as opportunities not roadblocks. A can-do attitude – keeping the end goal in sight and maintaining that commitment to get the deal done. Commercial – understanding the big picture, and whilst having a keen eye for detail naturally, having the judgment to know what is really important in the grand scheme of things. Personal organisation – being on top of the paperwork and knowing how to navigate the process correctly and ensuring deadlines are met. Lastly and really the aggregation of all the other attributes is teamwork – the lawyer will be part of the team on the transaction, along with you and possibly other practice staff, you’ll all want to be pulling in the same direction”.

As I said before, Frank Taylor & Associates have a wealth of experience in the market, so if you want more advice please get in touch on 0330 088 1156.

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