Growth to Exit® Case Study:
From Client Crisis to Company Rebirth

Charismatic Business Founder’s Sudden Death Leaves Healthcare Company Rudderless and Drifting. Shields Legal Rights The Ship.

The founder and charismatic leader of a 300+ employee healthcare financial services company died unexpectedly, without a succession plan, leaving the company in chaos and uncertainty. The founder’s widow, who had no prior involvement in the management and operation of the company, leaned on Shields Legal to help her navigate this business, personal, and family crisis. After meeting with the widow and the company’s rudderless management team, Shields Legal’s Growth to Exit team quickly designed and implemented an emergency succession plan, along with developing a longer-term strategy and plan, which took the company from the brink of shutting its doors to a successful multi-MM-dollar exit transaction.


Our client was referred to us in the midst of an unexpected crisis. The company’s founder and leader had just died, and his surviving spouse was faced with an immediate and overwhelming choice – whether to sell the business in a “fire sale,” terminate all 300 employees, and walk away, or whether to roll up her sleeves, step in and figure out how to run the business herself, while managing her and her family’s grief. Supported by the company’s management team and with Shields Legal by her side, our client decided to accept the seemingly impossible challenge of taking over and running the business her late husband had built.


Most law firms presented with a similar client scenario, would recommend that the surviving spouse wind down the company, sell the assets at a deep discount, or hire a business broker to quickly sell the business. This solution, although viable, does not consider our client’s strong desire to honor her late husband’s legacy and to protect the livelihood of her employees and her own family. Shields Legal recognized that our client was a fighter with a purpose and that she needed a legal team to fight for and with her through her personal and company crisis.


Shields Legal’s Growth to Exit team immediately implemented a crisis response plan, including a communications plan with the company’s various stakeholders.  In the short term, Shields Legal helped to retain at-risk customer relationships and contracts, and developed a plan to reorganize managerial roles and responsibilities.  Upon review of the company’s financial position, corporate structure, staffing needs, and tax and accounting processes, Shields Legal was able to direct the client to the appropriate professional consultants and advisors to provide necessary services to further stabilize the business.

In the mid-term, Shields assisted the company in developing a plan to grow its business, expand its client base and provide for ongoing capital and staffing needs.  Shields created an executive incentive plan to attract high level talent and addressed the need for business continuation processes.

Finally, our Growth to Exit team turned its attention to a longer-term strategy and succession plan for our client, with a goal of selling the business within a three-to five-year time frame.  The GTE plan contemplated continued growth of the business, access to capital sources, professional management, and best practices and processes.  Implementing the GTE plan required a major corporate and operational restructuring, resulting in a number of negotiated ownership exits and buyouts.  This corporate reorganization and partial buyout of ownership not only enabled the company to obtain bank financing, but positioned the company for a successful capital transaction.


Shields Legal was there, by the client’s side, each step of the way, from crisis to stabilization to implementation of a long-term Growth to Exit strategy. As a result, our client successfully saved, restructured, and grew her late husband’s business, protected her 300+ employees, and achieved a successful multi-MM-dollar exit, providing her and her family with financial security for life.