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How to find any attorney who's right for you-and your practice

Article

A hospital has offered to buy your practice. There's a conflict among the physicians in your group. Your practice is considering purchasing a new computer system. These are a few of the many examples the American Academy of Family Physicians cites that may require professional legal advice.

Key Points

Ahospital has offered to buy your practice. There's a conflict among the physicians in your group. You are preparing to sign a contract. Your practice is considering purchasing a new computer system. These are a few of many examples the American Academy of Family Physicians (AAFP) cites that may require professional legal advice.

According to practice management experts, establishing relationships with specialized legal professionals is key to successfully navigating a number of issues you may encounter in managing your practice.

"Anytime they are going to have internal growth, bringing on an associate, considering somebody for partnership, or a payout issue, it makes sense to have a good advisory team on board," says Neil B. Caesar, president of the Health Law Center, Greenville, South Carolina, which provides legal advice and services for the healthcare industry.

WHERE TO LOOK

You can tap many resources, from old-fashioned word-of-mouth referrals to advanced searches on the Web, to help choose an attorney who is right for your practice.

It's important to look for an attorney who is focused on healthcare law only, says Michael D. Brown, president of Health Care Economics, a consulting firm in Indianapolis. He cautions against hiring an attorney who is more of a generalist.

"It's difficult to find a really good healthcare attorney who's good in both healthcare and at being an attorney," he says. "The attorneys who will sell your house for you, draft your contract, and hire you a new doc partner in a family practice . . . are not the attorneys you want. You need an attorney who is a healthcare attorney."

There are several resources you can tap into to help you narrow the field:

"What you are looking for is depth and breadth of experience," Caesar says. "Ideally, you're going to find law firm links, articles, and speeches. These are not only helpful, but you get a feel for both the attorney's knowledge and his or her ability to communicate that knowledge in a practical and non-legalized manner. Once you find evidence that a person might be a good match for you, you can then Google that person and see if he or she shows up a lot, or shows issues or credentials."

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Jennifer N. Lee, MD, FAAFP
© National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health
© National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health
© National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health