Much of my work concerns partnerships of different kinds – from GPs’ and vets’ practices to farming and small family businesses, they all need to work out the basis on which they run their business so that it is protected for the future.

Obviously different kinds of partnership need different types of agreement, but having an agreement is key. Without one, if a partner leaves or dies, by law the partnership is dissolved, which can lead to real difficulties for those remaining. If you have a partnership agreement, you are protecting the business for the future.

Coming to that agreement can raise issues which might otherwise only surface in a crisis – it focuses the mind and makes people address issues such as succession, and the partners’ responsibilities as well as rights, at an early stage.

It is sometimes a real opportunity to plan ahead and to think about the way the business is going, and how the partners want it to develop over the years ahead. People often take things for granted or make assumptions, and focusing on the agreement can clarify issues.

For those joining partnerships for the first time, it can be a challenging process – if you’ve only ever been employed by someone else before, having to think a partnership through is completely different.

For me, it’s important to move the process along so that we can bring it to a conclusion – that means a business can move forward, with something solid in place which it can fall back on if there are disputes or problems. An agreement will give the business a solid foundation from which it can grow into the future.