The contingency fees of an attorney spouse are marital property.
Law firms not excluded from valuation because it is unethical to sell law firm goodwill.
Interest in law partnership is governed by terms of the partnership agreement – capital account as of date of separation.
No value could be attached to goodwill in solo law practice because the goodwill was not marketable.
The contingent fees a lawyer hoped to earn in cases pending at the time of his divorce are not divisible marital assets or assets of the law practice. (Distinguishes Weiss).
Partnership agreement governs valuation of divorcing attorney’s interest in law firm.
Value of law practice includes enhanced earning capacity. Professional degree or license merges with the professional practice itself where the practice has been ongoing for a number of years during the marriage.
Goodwill of solo law practice is too speculative – more equitable to consider earning power and set alimony.
Maryland adopts minority view and holds that the goodwill of a solo law practice is not includable in the marital estate upon divorce. The goodwill is personal to the attorney and is not severable from his or her reputation.
An attorney’s contingent fee contracts are not marital property subject to division, due to their speculative and intangible nature. The fees earned by an attorney should be considered for purposes of support. Also, an attorney’s professional goodwill is not a divisible marital asset.