Active senior woman balances on fallen tree

When Should You Retire?

Fans of Kenny Rogers, and even those who have never heard of him, may recognize this phrase from his best-selling song, The Gambler. Knowing when to hold them and when to fold them is more than just a snappy catchphrase. It’s knowing when to move on. In poker, do you keep betting, hoping to win the pot, or do you get out of the hand and hope the next one is better? For those approaching the end of their legal career, the phrase means, do you keep plugging away working, or is it time to fold them and start playing an entirely new game called retirement? So how do you know? Here are some questions to ask yourself on when you should retire. Can you afford to retire? Or, as some others say, “Have you reached your number?” Talk about a mov… Read More
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Selling a Personal Injury Law Firm

For personal injury law firm owners thinking about leaving practice, there’s good news and bad news regarding selling a personal injury law firm. Personal Injury Firms First, the good news. Unlike most practices, personal injury practices have a real monetary value and a relatively easy manner to determine that value, even if the owner decides to shut the firm down. At times, this value can be significant and easy to monetize. Read More
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How Do My Earnings Compare to Other Lawyers?

Lawyers, by their very nature, are competitive. So, it should come as no surprise that for many lawyers, “winning” means making more money than other lawyers. If you’re in Big Law, it’s not very difficult to get a good idea whether you are “winning.” Associate salaries are widely publicized, and to a lesser extent, so is partner compensation. Indeed, a lot of the jumping around one sees in Big Law, is driven by the knowledge that, at least when it comes to compensation, you know whether the grass is greener on the other side of the fence. Read More
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Deal Structure for Law Firm Sales

What are the mechanics of buying and selling a law firm? First, let’s go back to law school for a moment. For those of you who have never done transactional work during your career, law firm buyers purchase the firm’s equity or assets. In the former situation, the entity remains in place. In asset deals, buyers acquire assets that are then placed in the buyer’s existing entity.

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Boosting Revenue Before Retiring

A small law firm owner client who wants to retire in 3-4 years recently asked me, “Is it a good idea to try to grow my revenues during my last years to enhance my firm’s value when it’s time to sell a few years down the road?” Sorry, but there is no simple answer, and I will fall back on the two words lawyers love to tell their own clients: “It depends.” Read More
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Investing for a Satisfying Retirement

When planning for retirement, most lawyers think long and hard about how best to invest their financial assets. They want to maximize their financial health. Few, however, think about how they should invest their time to maximize their physical and emotional health during retirement. The answer is to invest in their relationships with family and friends. A long-running study out of Harvard University concludes that the best predictor of longevity, health, and happiness as we age is the quality of our relationships. Read More
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Five Truths About Compensation

Here are five principles (in no particular order of importance) of which all lawyers should remind themselves if they are in a position to decide how much to pay other lawyers at their firm, or are on the receiving end of such decisions. Read More
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Categories: Blog, Legal Careers

Succession Planning Client Transitions – “Show Me the Money”

Boomer lawyers are retiring in record numbers. Many are the same ones with the biggest book of business. Does your firm have a strategy to transition those clients to your firm’s younger generation? And remember: hope is not a strategy. Read More
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Retirement Phases

Retirement, for most Americans, lasts about 15-20 years. Many plan for it in a very one-dimensional manner. That is, they only think about whether they will have enough money to live the life they want. Few, however, think about what they are actually going to do during those years, and how to best plan for that. Read More
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Dementia and Aging Boomer Lawyers

The number of attorneys practicing after reaching the age of 65 has grown by more than 50% in the past decade. Roughly 15% of all practicing lawyers are 65 or older. As a group, we also seem to work longer than others. Only 7% of the general workforce stays employed beyond 65.

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Associate Buyouts - Better Than You Think

Many small firm owners wrongly assume that finding a third-party buyer hoping for a more lucrative deal is preferable to making an internal deal with an associate. At times, that is true, but more often than not, it is not. Owners should be more receptive to the exit strategy of selling to associates. Let’s first debunk some assumptions owners make when comparing the two options. Read More
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The Three “Do Nots” of Law Firm Buyers

I’ve written before about how buying a law firm can be a very effective, low-risk, and low-cost means to grow a practice. That said, what is it about the legal profession that, on occasion, makes it more challenging to sell a practice than hoped? As a consultant and coach, I’ve worked with hundreds of lawyers of all shapes and sizes in virtually every state and practice area. From that experience, I’ve become somewhat of an expert in understanding the DNA of those in our profession. Here are three fundamental truths in the DNA that impact buyer behavior. I call them the “do-nots.” Read More
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Removing Succession Planning Obstacles

With so many lawyers contemplating retirement, your law firm succession plan has never been more important. Take a careful look at your law firm’s most influential leaders and biggest rainmakers. Chances are good that these individuals will be retiring over the next decade. Is your law firm prepared for this seismic generational transition? The impact will be felt well beyond the law firm itself. Read More
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The Contingent Exit Strategy

I recently worked with two elder solo attorneys in excellent health. They wanted to work 2-3 more years at almost a full-time pace. However, they were old enough and wise enough to know that a sudden health issue could derail all of that if they didn’t make a plan soon. I’ve written before about the risks of dying at your desk. Suffice it to say that if that occurs, you leave a mess for clients, staff, and especially grieving spouses and children. Further, selling a practice is way more difficult without the owner around. And even if it can be done, it is usually at fire sale terms. Read More
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When Selling A Law Firm Was Unethical

For years, selling a law practice was prohibited because ethics regulators believed clients, files, and a firm’s goodwill were not something that could be sold. Regulators feared that clients would be treated like merchandise. Other ethics worries included the possibility of sharing fees with a non-lawyer (spouse of a deceased lawyer) and the ban on payments to anyone for recommending the lawyer’s services. Read More
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Adding Partners When You’re a Small Firm Owner

You’ve successfully owned your law firm for a decade and have employed two lawyers for most of that time. Both are all pretty decent but are not superstars. One day, they come to you and ask about the possibility of becoming partial equity owners. Your initial thinking is “I knew this day would probably come. Now, what do I do?” Well, here’s what you do.

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Have You Prioritized Your Exit Strategy Goals?

Lawyers are typically not a reflective lot. We rarely spend time taking a step back to ask, “What am I trying to accomplish here?” Instead, most lawyers just “shoot and then ask questions.” This dynamic is present at the time of retirement when determining an exit strategy. And even when the timing of the exit is carefully thought out, the goals are often not. Read More
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Phasing Into Retirement

Whether a lawyer works in a firm or as a solo, he or she does not close up shop one day and ride off into the retirement sunset the next. Many lawyers gradually wind down their practices—over months or years—and transition to part-time before retiring completely. Historically, law firms use the “of counsel” designation for lawyers nearing retirement. Read More
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How to Transition Clients When Succession Planning

If you’re a solo or small firm owner thinking of selling your law firm, for certain practice areas, transitioning repeat clients to the buyer is key. Indeed, the primary reason your firm has value and has a willing buyer are those client relationships that took years to build. Transitioning clients successfully requires managing and finessing human relationships, a task that—even with the best of intentions—is never easy. Everyone has the same goals, including quality, predictability, and trust. Will your successor meet your existing clients’ goals? Read More
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The Often-Forgotten Risks of Dying at Your Desk When You’re a Solo or Small Firm Owner

I’ve got some good news and some bad news. First, the good news. Men in the United States aged 65 can expect to live 18.2 more years on average. Women aged 65 years can expect to live around 20.8 more years on average. The bad news is that some lawyers read that and somehow think that they can practice that long. Read More
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