Do I Need a Dental-Specific Attorney?

Do I need an attorney that specializes in dental practice acquisitions, or will any M&A attorney do?

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We’ll go over the pros and cons of working with a dental-specific attorney.

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I had a client ask my opinion on using their local attorney who does a lot of business transactions and has helped with several dental deals in the past compared to a traditional ‘dental-only’ attorney. 

Is it ALWAYS the best idea to use a dental-only attorney when buying a dental practice?

It’s a really good question. 

The truthful answer is somewhere between “it depends” and “I can’t be 100% sure.” 

But, I believe the odds of you having a good experience on the legal side are higher with a dental-only option. 

And I thought of 3 reasons I would lean towards the dental-only lawyer if I were the one buying a practice. 

#1 – The OTHER Attorney

The more transitions I do, the more I find myself in dental practice deals asking the broker who the seller chose for their attorney. My mental Rolodex starts humming and my recommendations will sometimes adjust based on who’s on the other side of a deal. 

“Let’s see…if it’s THAT attorney, then I definitely don’t want to recommend so-and-so since they really don’t get along. But I think that Joe Attorney has had good experiences in the past with them…”

And so on.

More often than not, if you pick the dental-only option for your region (and these days, picking the best option in the country is possible), there’s a better than even chance that the two attorneys will have worked together and have a decent working relationship. 

The flip side is that I’ve noticed that non-dental-specific attorneys will not know the norms and customs for dental deals. They’ll throw a clause or a demand over the fence on a deal to the other attorney, who often IS dental-only, and the other attorney will get super frustrated by the rookie (rookie to dental…) attorney asking for the thing that is uncommon. That never ends particularly well. And it often slows things down considerably. 

#2 – Dental-only Attorneys Are More Likely to Quote a Flat-fee

Because the dental-only attorneys have done so many transitions, they have an excellent handle on how much time a deal is going to take. Thus, they’re more likely to quote a buyer a flat fee. Knowing your costs upfront on the legal side is generally preferred by most buyers. Plus, knowing you’re not going to run up your bill to ask a question makes you a more informed buyer with all the questions you want to ask. 

Sometimes hourly attorneys will quote an estimated bill that looks lower than the flat-fee attorney. But that can be a crap-shoot. If the deal goes sideways for any reason, that bill can quickly escalate. Getting the very best legal advice at a price you know upfront. 

#3 – Dental-only Attorneys Are Specialists

You’re a dentist right? So you get specialization better than almost any career choice out there! Need straight teeth. Go to the specialist. Need a root canal? There’s a specialty for that. 

Need to close on a dental practice in a timely manner and be as protected as possible? There’s a specialty for that, too. 

Is it possible that a generalist attorney can do just as good a job on your dental transition? Sure. Of course. 

But when we’re talking probabilities, I’m going to recommend the option that has the highest likelihood of knowing the other attorney, the highest likelihood of quoting a flat, fair fee, and the highest likelihood of having the super-specialized knowledge you’re going to need. 

Go with the percentages, in my opinion. Go dental-only.

Read More:

4 Things Your Attorney Should Do for You When Buying a Dental Practice

Identifying Habits of Successful Dental Practices | Negotiating a Dental Practice Purchase

Four Reasons to NOT Use the Seller’s Accountant

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