The mission of the AIA Small Firm Exchange (SFx) is to advance the mutual interests of architects practicing in small firms. The objectives of the AIA SFx are three-fold:1. Advocate for small firms within the AIA and in outside organizations and agencies.2. Promote leadership in Small Firm professional development and practice; and3. Facilitate and support the local component round tables and small firm networks.
Ownership percentage should be based on your individual equity investment in the company. For instance, if your current boss wants to sell the company to the three of you for $100,000 (just using a nice round number), then the three of you would need to each put in capital to pay that fee. If you each pay $33,333 you would be equal partners. If one person pays $50,000 and the other two pay $25,000 then the person who put in $50k would own 50% of the company and the others would each own 25%, etc.That would be the easiest and most fair way to divvy up ownership. It isn't about seniority, but rather equity would be proportional to capital investment in the company.Another thing of note is that in most states 2/3 of the ownership - or 2/3 of the board of directors if it is set up as a corporation - must be licensed architects. At least that is the law here in Oregon. I'm not sure if your office manager is licensed but these laws may affect how you set up the business or how you divide ownership.All this being said, having business partners is like a marriage. If you already are having issues with each other, or don't want to work with one of the potential partners, or you are already arguing over ownership percentages, it is probably best that you don't become business partners. You may just want to move on to a different company or start your own firm. Or you just buy the whole company and keep the other people as employees.I hope this helps.