» Retirement/Succession

Valuing & Distinguishing Goodwill When Planning Your Firm’s Succession

When it comes to planning your law firm’s succession, a primary area of concern for your successor is whether your clients will choose to work with that successor after you leave. One way to assess this need is to evaluate the type of goodwill that exists with your clients and whether that goodwill carries any transferrable value. ... Read More

Fearing Retirement? Don’t Worry, Be Happy!

Last month, I went out to dinner with some friends. One friend announced to the group that,  after working for a large telecommunications company for more than 25 years, he was being offered an opportunity to retire early with some very nice incentives. He further informed us that he had intended to retire within the next year. So, the offer was not going to change his planned retirement date in any significant manner.  ... Read More

Failing Health Causes Failed Succession

More lawyers are working well into their 70s. Indeed, I am no longer surprised when I meet lawyers still practicing in their 80s. What’s behind this growing trend of aging attorneys? ... Read More

Should My Associate Be My Successor?

As a small law firm owner thinking about retirement, you are likely looking to your own associate to be your successor. This decision is not one to enter lightly, however. Before you make anything official, you need to consider whether your associate has the talent and the skills to pull it off. Just because the associate handles files well has no bearing on whether they can successfully operate a law firm. ... Read More

Compensating Retiring Lawyers for Client Transition Efforts

A key aspect of any law firm succession plan is keeping the firm’s best clients when the rainmakers are gone. As more Boomers retire or start their winding down efforts, concerns about client retention and proper compensation are at the forefront of succession plan conversations. ... Read More

How to Approach Difficult Conversations About Succession Planning

Talking about a firm’s future is hard enough. Build onto that the need to plan for a future that doesn’t include a senior attorney… Talk about awkward! There is also fear on the part of younger lawyers. It can often feel confrontational to approach senior lawyers and ask about their future plans. ... Read More

Solos and Small Firm Owners: Don’t Delay Your Succession Planning

Succession is perhaps the most significant long-term challenge facing soon-to-be-retired, baby-boomer solo practitioners and small law firm owners. This is understandable, as a variety of psychological and emotional factors stack the odds against you laying the foundation for a smooth transition. ... Read More

Succession Planning Scenarios for Solos & Small Law Firm Owners

For solo practitioners and small law firm owners seeking retirement, here is a quick, down-and-dirty summary of the succession plan strategies available to you. Put another way, here are three structural ways that soon-to-be retired lawyers can “sell” their practices. ... Read More

How to Retain Clients When a Lawyer Retires: Plan for the Skill Gap

A critical component of a law firm’s succession plan is to figure out how to retain the firm’s best clients when senior lawyers retire. Most law firms quickly jump to determine who in the firm is either ready to step up or ready to undertake proper mentoring and training to step up in the future. Before making this determination, however, it is important to ask several questions. ... Read More

Succession Planning: Don’t Delay Identifying New Leaders

I recently attended a CLE with approximately 25 other people. Two individuals introduced themselves as managing partners of their small law firms. Both were in their 60s and both indicated their firms had not yet identified logical successor candidates to lead when they retire. The situation these partners find themselves in is not unusual. ... Read More

Should Your Career Expire When Your Lease Does?

Clients often ask me, “Roy, what’s the biggest mistake solo practitioners and small firm owners make when considering their retirement/succession strategies?” My answer? Attorneys permit their office situation, specifically a lease obligation, to muck things up. Continue reading this post at www.attorneyatlaw.com. ... Read More

How to Be Successful at Succession Planning

Mark Twain is said to have remarked, “Everybody talks about the weather, but nobody does anything about it.” That quote came to mind when I heard about a new book by veteran law firm consultant John W. Olmstead, “The Lawyer’s Guide to Succession Planning: A Project Management Approach for Successful Law Firm Transitions and Exits.” The fact that such a book has been published indicates the legal profession is talking more about succession planning. Yet are today’s lawyers and firms actually doing anything about succession? Facts Don’t Lie In 1980, only a quarter of the legal profession was older than 55. Today, well over a third of lawyers are. That means that more than a third of those practicing today will likely not… ... Read More

Is it Time to Retire?

For most lawyers, the decision when to retire is rarely black and white. Instead, the choice comes with lots of gray (that goes along with your gray hair!). To help you find the right time, think about these questions: Do you still have the fire in your belly? Are you still excited about going into the office, or do you dread the thought? Have you been on the receiving end of subtle or not-so-subtle suggestions from family, friends or colleagues that perhaps it’s time to slow down? How do you feel physically? Is your mental edge still there? How often do you have “senior moments?” How healthy are your parents? Will you need to help them through their own sunset years? How is your spouse’s or significant other’s health? What are h… ... Read More

The Flaws of the "Recruit Your Successor" Exit Strategy

One retirement exit strategy often considered by solo practitioners is the “recruit your successor” one. The idea behind this strategy is to find a young, inexperienced lawyer who is then groomed to take over the practice. During the initial stage of the transition (usually one or two years), the seller and buyer get to know one another. If the fit seems good, the parties then negotiate a “buy out” going forward (usually another one to three years). Continue reading this post at www.lawyerist.com ... Read More

Closing Time: Best Practices When Closing a Law Practice

The most common reason why practices close is retirement. Although many lawyers would probably prefer to simply ride off into the sunset when they’ve decided to call it a career, the rules of professional conduct dictate otherwise. The duty of competent representation requires an obligation to protect client interests, which in turn, requires planning and time. Failure to properly plan one’s exit from the profession could harm the interests of clients, as well as cause financial and emotional stress to former partners and family members left to clean up the mess ... Read More

Die at Your Desk

More baby boomer solo practitioners and small law firm owners are thinking about their exit strategies. As well they should, considering the conventional wisdom that if “you die at your desk,” you leave money on the table. The reasoning behind this wisdom is simple. As a practical matter, retiring lawyers can expect to extract far more value from a practice while they are still alive. But this wisdom does not hold true for every lawyer ... Read More

Size Matters

The most common exit strategies for retiring solo practitioners and small law firm owners typically include recruiting a successor, merging with another law firm, or selling the practice. All of these options have advantages and disadvantages. However, there’s one strategy that is rarely considered, though it may make the most sense in terms of the retiring lawyer’s financial and personal well-being. That strategy is downsizing. Continue reading this post at www.myshingle.com ... Read More

Planning for the Unexpected

A frequent complaint of solo practitioners is that since they are alone and in charge, it is difficult to get away for a vacation. But somehow, most seem to manage by finding another lawyer to cover for them should there be an emergency type of situation. That’s easy to do because the vacation is planned. But what if you are taken away from your practice for something that is not planned? What if you are incapacitated or even die from an accident? Do you have another lawyer to cover for you under these circumstances? Continue reading at www.myshingle.com ... Read More

Strategic Planning for Small Law Firms

Pressed for time and averse to business jargon, solos and small law firms may be overlooking benefits of strategic planning that include more and better business over the long term. If a small law firm is perfectly happy with its current status and future outlook, then it does not need a strategic plan. But really, how many firms can claim to be perfectly satisfied? Most small firms want more business and better business. To achieve this goal, these small firms need a strategic plan. Continue reading this post at www.lawyerist.com ... Read More

What You Need to Know in Order to Sell a Law Practice

For years, selling a law practice was prohibited because ethics regulators believed clients, files, and a firm’s good will were not something that could be sold. This prohibition did not really affect larger law firms, which would just buy out partners, i.e. the partnership would return the percentage of the equity owned by the retiring partner. Smaller law firms were able to “sell” themselves by merging with other firms. Continue reading this post on www.lawyerist.com ... Read More
Roy was my outplacement counselor after I left my job as an in-house attorney. At the time, most of my legal experience was in the corporate world as a litigator at a mid-sized downtown law firm and as in-house counsel. I realized that I was tired of…" Read the rest
– Solo practitioner, Minneapolis, MN

For More Information

Fill out our online form
closeClose