Professional Entity Series Continued
Welcome to Blog #2 in our Professional Entity series. Long time readers will remember that professional associations are formed to provide the professional services rendered by doctors, dentists, chiropractors, optometrists, veterinarians, or licensed mental health professionals.
This blog will focus on the requirements and intricacies involved in forming and maintaining a professional association so that you will be better equipped to determine whether this professional entity is the correct one for your business.
What is Required for a Professional Association?
A professional association may provide a professional service in Texas only through owners, managerial officials, employees, or agents, each of whom is a professional individual, and is licensed in this state to provide the same professional service provided by the entity.
An individual may not, under the guise of employment, provide a professional service in Texas unless she is licensed to provide the professional service under the Texas law.
However, a professional entity is not prohibited from employing nurses, clerks, secretaries, bookkeepers, technicians, or assistants, etc., who do not ordinarily provide a professional service according to general custom and practice.
What if I Lose My License?
A managerial officer or an owner who is no longer licensed to provide the same professional service as the professional entity must promptly resign her position and employment and relinquish her ownership interest in the entity.
The person who succeeds to the ownership interest of the owner that relinquished her ownership interest must promptly relinquish the former owner’s financial interest in the entity. The entity must then purchase the former owner’s interest pursuant either to Texas law, the entity’s governing documents, or an agreement.
If the relinquishing owner owns 100% of the ownership interests, she may act as a managerial official or owner solely for the purpose of winding up the affairs of the entity, including selling the outstanding ownership interests and other entity assets.
An ownership interest may only be transferred to an owner, the entity itself, or an authorized person, unless limited by the entity’s governing documents.
Can I Operate a Joint Practice?
Licensed medical doctors, osteopathy doctors, and podiatrists may jointly form and own a professional association to perform professional services that fall within the scope of practice of those practitioners.
Licensed physicians and physician assistants may form and own a professional association to perform professional services that fall within the scope of practice of those practitioners. However, a physician assistant may not be an officer, and may not contract with or employ a physician to be a supervising physician in the professional association.
Professionals engaged in related mental health fields such as psychology, clinical social work, licensed professional counseling, and licensed marriage and family therapy may form a jointly owned professional entity to perform professional services that fall within the scope of practice of those practitioners. Physicians are excluded from this section.
Who is the Governing Authority?
A professional association must be governed by a board of directors or an executive committee. The directors on the board or members of the committee must be elected by the members of the association.
Only a member of the professional association is eligible to serve as an officer or governing person. Only a governing person of the professional association is eligible to serve as the president. A person is not required to be a governing person to serve as an officer (except for the president position). The governing authority must elect the officers.
What About Employees and Profits?
The officers may employ agents or employees for the association as they consider advisable.
The members of a professional association must divide the profits according to the association’s governing documents.
Please speak with your business law attorney if you are considering forming a professional association. She can help you with the many requirements and nuances involved in formation and continued business.
–Authored by Carrie A. Harris, Esq.,
Matthew Harris Law, PLLC – Business Law Division
1001 Main Street, Suite 200, Lubbock, Texas, 79401-3309
Tel: (806) 702-4852 | Fax: (800) 985-9479