1779 – The Art of Buying and Selling Law Firms with Victoria Collier of Quid Pro Quo

In this episode of the Thoughtful Entrepreneur, your host Josh Elledge speaks with the CEO & Owner of Quid Pro Quo, Victoria Collier.

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Victoria Collier brings a wealth of knowledge to the table with her expertise in guiding lawyers through the sale of their practices. Her approach is about finding a buyer and ensuring that law firm owners can find their life after the law. This involves a comprehensive strategy that includes positioning the firm for sale and acting as a broker to connect with the right buyer.

One of the key topics we discussed was how small law firm owners could prepare their firms to be attractive acquisition targets. Victoria stressed the importance of shifting one's mindset from being a practitioner to embracing the role of a business owner. This shift is crucial in building assets within the firm that go beyond revenue generation.

A predictable income and robust production systems are vital in demonstrating the firm's stability and potential for growth. Operational procedures and transparent workflows add to the firm's value, showcasing a well-organized and efficient practice that a buyer could easily integrate into their existing operations.

Victoria talked through the engagement process with Quid Pro Quo Law, which begins with assessing the emotional readiness of the seller and obtaining a valuation of the business. The acquisition process involves due diligence and navigating the emotional challenges sellers may face during the transition.

Key Points from the Episode:

  • Reasons for acquiring existing law firms
  • Steps for making law firms attractive for acquisition
  • Sales process for law firms
  • Post-sale transition period for sellers
  • Benefits for buyers in acquiring existing law firms
  • Growth through acquisition strategy for larger law firms
  • Criteria for potential acquisitions
  • Shift in mindset for small law firm owners
  • Importance of building assets within the firm
  • Post-sale period and personalized roles for sellers

About Victoria Collier:

Victoria Collier is a multifaceted legal and business professional who transitioned seamlessly from her Air Force paralegal role to founding her own law firm. With her unique background, she specialized in Elder Law Estate Planning, distinguishing herself as a pioneer in educating elder law attorneys nationwide about Veterans Benefits for Seniors. 

Her expertise extended beyond legal practice to business coaching, where she co-owned a successful company, guiding other attorneys in growing their practices

Under her leadership for 18 years, her law firm consistently generated impressive revenues, reaching $1-1.5 million annually over five consecutive years. In 2020, she made the strategic move to sell her firm.

Beyond law, Victoria's entrepreneurial spirit has led her to co-own another high-performing business focused on assisting Veterans. She also runs a consulting firm and has previously ventured into insurance, publishing, and real estate. Victoria Collier's career reflects a blend of legal acumen, business savvy, and a dedicated commitment to supporting veterans and the elderly.

About Quid Pro Quo:

Quid pro quo, a Latin term meaning “something for something,” refers to a mutual exchange where one thing is given or done in return for another. In legal and business contexts, it often implies an exchange of goods, services, or favors, where each party expects to give and receive something of value. This concept is crucial in contract law, where agreements are based on the understanding that each party will fulfill their part of the deal.

However, quid pro quo can also have negative connotations, especially when the exchange is unethical or illegal. For instance, in the workplace, it might refer to situations where job benefits (like promotions or raises) are contingent upon employees providing personal favors, which can lead to accusations of harassment or corruption.

Quid pro quo can describe negotiations where support or concessions are exchanged for specific actions or policies in political and diplomatic arenas. It's a fundamental principle in international relations, where countries often engage in reciprocal dealings to advance their interests.

Tweetable Moments:

05:29 – “What buyers want to buy is predictability. So, whatever systems you can have to make sure that there's predictability in income, that would be number one.”

07:59 – “The due diligence process can be the hardest emotional part through the entire journey. It can be stressful, and that's why having an advisor to go through that can be helpful.”

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Links Mentioned in this Episode:

Want to learn more? Check out Quid Pro Quo website at

Check out Quid Pro Quo on LinkedIn at

Check out Quid Pro Quo on Instagram at

Check out Quid Pro Quo on Facebook at

Check out Victoria Collier on LinkedIn at

Check out Victoria Collier on Twitter at

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Josh (00:00:04) - Hey there, thoughtful listener. Would you like consistent and predictable sales activity with no spam and no ads? I'll teach you step by step how to do this, particularly if you're an agency owner, consultant, coach, or B2B service provider. What I teach has worked for me for more than 15 years and has helped me create more than $10 million in revenue. Just head to up my and watch my free class on how to create endless high ticket sales appointments. You can even chat with me live and I'll see and reply to your messages. Also, don't forget the thoughtful entrepreneur is always looking for guests. Go to up my and click on podcast. We'd love to have you. With us right now. Victoria. Collier. Victoria, you are the founder of quid pro quo law. You're found on the web at quid pro quo. Lorcan victory. Thank you so much for joining us.

Victoria (00:01:11) - Josh it's great to be here. Thank you.

Josh (00:01:14) - And also I always want to give a shout out to my fellow veteran business owners of which you are.

Josh (00:01:19) - You served in the Air Force. So it's great to have you Victoria, give us a quick overview of the work you do with Quid pro Cola.

Victoria (00:01:26) - Yeah. So primarily I help lawyers find their life after law. So what that means is that I help them position their law firm so they can then sell them. And then I act as like a broker to find a buyer, to help them sell so they can get on with their life after law. Wow. That's the crux.

Josh (00:01:46) - You know, just thinking about this from the buyer's perspective of why they might want to buy an existing law firm versus kind of start from scratch on their own. I mean, obviously there's some different models. They can still have their own, but, you know, they can again step into something that's perhaps a little bit more turnkey for them rather than, you know, having to start or try to figure out all that market share on their own.

Victoria (00:02:10) - Sure. And I do actually represent buyers as well. Um, and I've got four buyers currently.

Victoria (00:02:15) - And each of them, for example, one wants to get into different geographical markets, which can include different states. Even another one isn't necessarily interested in different geographical markets, but really just wants to expand a particular service type that they have in their office with complementary services. And then, you know, there's various other reasons, but those are two very specific reasons why buyers are interested in buying. And and they don't have to start from scratch. It's like you're starting, as I like to say, on second base instead of at home plate.

Josh (00:02:48) - Are there. You know, just thinking about, uh, folks that might have a small law firm. They have a decent book of business. They've got a good presence in their local community. Are there larger law firms that growth through acquisition is absolutely part of their strategy?

Victoria (00:03:04) - Absolutely, absolutely. And there is kind of a sweet spot, depending on what size that larger law firm is. But I would say the sweet spot is somewhere between 750 to 1.5 million.

Victoria (00:03:16) - But then there's other, much larger law firms that are looking for law firms that are making 5 million or more with like 40% net revenue, net profit.

Josh (00:03:27) - Yeah. So if let's say that I've got a small practice myself and maybe I'm not ready to sell just yet, but let's say I want to take the next few years and I want to really position myself. Well, I bet you like this question.

Victoria (00:03:41) - Well, you're are you're already talking about language. You sound like a smart person. Ha.

Josh (00:03:47) - What things should I be doing today to make myself very attractive for acquisition in a few years?

Victoria (00:03:55) - Right. And so, um, one of the things that I suggest that it has to be the first step, and that is change your mindset and stop thinking that you are just a lawyer, for example, or just a practitioner in your business, whatever that is, and become a business owner. And when you make that shift from being the person who works in the business to the person who works on the business, all of your decisions become different.

Victoria (00:04:23) - And you become a visionary about the future versus stuck in the weeds of today. So that's number one. Number two would be look at your business as an asset. And the asset goes beyond just the revenue that you bring in. Um, and so the goal between now and the next few years that you want to then exit is how can I build the assets within my firm beyond just revenue. And so we have to look at the different components that are considered assets that someone would want to buy. And then we need to increase the value of those.

Josh (00:04:59) - Yeah. So tell me more about the maybe the operational, the systems that that we'd want to lock down because I don't think any buyer wants to step into something that's a mess. Um, what are maybe some of those structural systems, workflow people that you would say, yeah, you better get this stuff locked down.

Victoria (00:05:18) - Right. So what buyers want to buy is predictability. And so whatever systems you can have to make sure that there's predictability. So number one is predictability and income.

Victoria (00:05:29) - So how is the income coming into the door. So that would be predictability in your marketing and marketing. That is not dependent on the owner right. Um so whatever you can systematize that it is working all the time to bring people in the door. That would be number one. Number two would be how do you systematize your your production. So that kind of like, you know, these fast food places, every hamburger, whether it sucks or is good, is always going to be the same. Right. And so your work product to always be the same. And you can only do that if you have policies and procedures that are actually being worked. So those are the top two I would say.

Josh (00:06:09) - Yeah. In Victoria where do you like if someone's uh listening to our conversation right now and they're interested, they're like, look, I don't want to do this forever. You know, I'm in my 50s. I'm late 50s. I don't want to do this for decades more. I think I've got a pretty good operation here.

Josh (00:06:29) - What is that engagement process like with you? I'm going to get to the second part of that question separately, where I talk about what life is like after law. Let's talk about like with that journey is like with you first.

Victoria (00:06:42) - Sure. And so the first thing is we try to clarify, are you burned out or do you really want to get out? Because those are two different things. And if you're burned out, you actually can recover from that and still have a business that is thriving, that you love. If you actually do want to get out, then we want to create the path for that. So we want to do a personal assessment to find out how ready are you emotionally to exit your firm. And there are actual tools you can put in place to increase your emotional readiness. So that may be part of the process. But beyond that, the first step is really we got to know what this business is worth. Because number one, if it's not worth what you need in order to find life after law, then we need to get it to the value to where you can.

Victoria (00:07:31) - If it's already at that value, then we can go ahead and go to market. But obviously there's things to do with that. But number one is get a valuation.

Josh (00:07:40) - Yes. Yeah. What is the sales process or sale. What is the kind of the acquisition process like like when it's okay, we have a buyer and they are interested. Like when it starts to get really serious. What does that usually like from the seller's perspective.

Victoria (00:07:59) - Well emotional for one. But um, yeah, I would say, you know, we the goal is to get a letter of intent signed, which has the key terms of the agreement. And so then due diligence begins. And due diligence is the hardest emotional part through the entire journey. Because you're all excited from a seller standpoint, you're excited. Somebody's interested. They've signed a letter of intent with a purchase and some key terms, but then in the due diligence it drags on, the buyer is asking all kinds of questions. They want all kinds of documents, and a seller will get anxious and almost even defiant, defensive to where they can kill a deal just because the other person is trying to do their due diligence.

Victoria (00:08:49) - You know? I mean, when you're putting down $1 million, yeah, you should be asking questions. So so it can be stressful. And so that's why having an advisor to go through that can be helpful. And so many people try to do it on their own while still working full time, trying to not minimize their revenue and going through all those emotions. It can be stressful and definitely kill deals that otherwise could be successful.

Josh (00:09:14) - Yeah, so let's say you get it past the finish line. What? I'm just so curious, like from your observation, what do you see the seller's life like that 30 days. Like they get the check, they're holding the check, or they got the wire transfer. It's in the account. What are those next 30, 60, 90 days like for that seller?

Victoria (00:09:36) - Well, it all depends on the terms of the agreement because some of them have transition periods. Most of them do. And so they're still involved. Some of them do get a check up front.

Victoria (00:09:46) - Some of them actually are getting are self-financing. And so they're getting paid over time. But it's a new dance with an owner coming in and you're still there. So it's kind of like the stepparent and the original. Apparent living under the same household, trying to manage these kids and they don't know who to listen to. And so part of that transition plan, much of that transition plan needs to be ironed out in advance so that everyone has clear expectations as to what is our role, what do we expect from each other after the closing table?

Josh (00:10:18) - And I would imagine then, you know, so so yeah, what we think about like what that post sale looks like, what percentage are going to be. No, no, no. As the principal, the former principal of the seller, most of the time you're going to be pretty involved for a transition period. Like what are some of the most common models that you see?

Victoria (00:10:40) - Um, the most common model I see is a transition period of six months where the outgoing seller, um, has a limited role in essentially introducing the buyers to their clients, their current clients, and to their referral sources.

Victoria (00:10:58) - And then being there as needed to answer questions on operations or, you know, just weird things going on that only, you know, somebody who's been there for some years would know. Um, so really as an advisor consultant role now, some also like, you know, they want to stay on the seller wants to stay on for a year or two, three years, but then they're only choosing to do the things that they enjoy doing versus everything. So a seller might say, look, I'll still do the consultations because that's what I love about this. I just don't want to do any of the work. I don't want to manage the people. Or they may say, look, I'll be out in the community and I'll bring people in, but I don't want to even step foot in the office. So it's very personalized, and it's part of what the buyer and the seller from the very beginning need to iron out. As far as what are each of their goals with these roles?

Josh (00:11:51) - Yeah, yeah, I would imagine, you know, as the, uh, is a buyer, you want to have some assurances.

Josh (00:11:58) - It's probably very rare that you're like, okay, here's the check. Give me the keys. See you. Yeah, yeah, it could be, you know, because the principals got relationships with the staff, the, you know, the team, obviously the clients, because you don't want to, you know, have all the clients say, well, I loved working with Lou. And if Lou's gone, I'm out of here.

Victoria (00:12:19) - Right, right. Well, interestingly, I just went under contract with someone and the buyer did not even ask for a transition period. And so we actually put one into the contract because it's important enough for my seller to stay for a period of time. And so we actually added it.

Josh (00:12:36) - All right. Your website is quid pro quo To someone who's been listening to our conversation, what would you recommend they do next?

Victoria (00:12:47) - I would say that if they're a lawyer, even if they don't plan to sell their firm any time soon, they'll get a lot of benefit by becoming a member of our private Facebook group called the Art of Buying and Selling Law firms, because it just gives great information on how to best operate your law firm, to position it at some point for transition.

Josh (00:13:08) - Yeah. When they go to your website, what should they click on?

Victoria (00:13:12) - Um, so that's not at the website. That's not Facebook. So it's the art of buying and selling law firms. Our private Facebook group.

Josh (00:13:19) - Oh nice. Nice. Yes.

Victoria (00:13:22) - But certainly at our website it's quid pro quo. We do have our services listed there, and we also have certain products listed there under the store.

Josh (00:13:31) - Um, you have a list, by the way, for those looking to buy, you've got a list of law firms that are for sale. And, um, kind of tells you where they're based and what area of law. There are big descriptions. So if you want to just do a little shopping, you're welcome to browse through the directory that you have as well. Again, Victoria Collier, you're the principal and founder of quid pro Quo Law. Your website quid pro quo Thank you so much, Victoria, for joining us.

Victoria (00:14:03) - Thanks, Josh.

Josh (00:14:09) - Thanks for listening to The Thoughtful Entrepreneur Show.

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