Assessing a Law Firm’s Revenue: All Is Not Created Equally

One of my truisms for valuing a law practice is that “all revenue is not created equally.” For example, revenue that stems from past clients or one’s referral network is far more valuable than the revenue generated from Google Ads.

Comparing the Value of Different Revenue Sources

When acquiring a law firm, smart buyers want to gain revenue they would not otherwise be able to access on their own. Revenue from a seller’s clients and referral sources fall into that category. It is because of the acquisition that the buyer has the opportunity to provide legal services to those clients.

Contrast that with revenue obtained from clients who clicked on a paid Google ad. Here, a buyer doesn’t necessarily need a selling law firm to generate revenue from Google Ads. The buyer can simply run its own ad.

In other words, an acquiring firm pays the selling owner for the hope of future revenue from past clients and referral sources. This is not the case when a selling firm’s revenue depends on getting clients via paid ads on Google, however. The buying firm would have to continue to pay for the marketing campaign to maintain the seller’s revenue. In effect, the buyer would be paying twice. That is clearly not a smart business decision.

Final Words of Caution

Buyers, be wary of purchasing a practice with revenue that is overly dependent on expensive marketing. Sellers, if your revenue depends on significant marketing costs, your practice may not be worth as much as you hope.

I’ve been successfully practicing law for about thirty years and have a respectable book of business. What I found most valuable about Roy’s coaching was his ability to force me to become more systematic and disciplined about my marketing…" Read the rest
– Partner, large St. Cloud, MN law firm

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