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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Why Lawyers Procrastinate on Succession Planning

Some of my clients are estate planning lawyers. When I recently followed up with one of them, I came across an excellent blog post by this particular lawyer titled “A Baker’s Dozen of Why People Procrastinate About Their Estate Plan.” I had always suspected that the people who delayed putting their estate plans in order were similar to the small firm owner-lawyers I know who avoid succession planning. ... Read More

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

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

An Overlooked Obstacle to Succession Planning

Law firm succession planning is certainly getting its share of attention these days. It makes sense, too, considering one-third of the attorney population will be made up of boomer lawyers (those 65 years of age or older) within the next 10 years. ... Read More

Succession Planning Challenges? Don’t Let Them Hold You Back.

With Baby Boomers retiring left and right, law firm leaders everywhere are talking about succession planning. Yet, much like the weather, no one seems to be doing much about it. Legal consultants Altman Weil report that only 31% of its surveyed law firms had formal policies in place. ALM Legal Intelligence puts the number at 33%. ... Read More

Reassessing When to Retire During a Pandemic

Deciding when to retire, now more than ever, has become a moving target. In the best of times, it’s never a simple decision. Lots of variables to consider and assumptions to make. But with Covid-19, past careful thinking for many has been thrown to the wayside. Pundits galore have been making predictions about Covid-19’s impact on retirement. Here’s one more. ... Read More

Practice Makes Perfect, Even When Planning for Retirement

You should “practice retirement.” According to the 2018 Global Retirement Reality Report, only about half of Americans are happy in retirement even with financial security. If more retirees would have practiced retirement before retiring, the number of happy retirees would increase substantially. ... Read More

Hypocrisy and Selfishness Abound When Failing to Plan for Succession

If there was ever a wake-up call for solo and small law firm owners to create their succession plans, it is now. COVID-19 is a serious health risk that, as I write, is showing no signs of when it will go away. ... Read More

Recruiting Your Successor (Promising Premise, Perilous in Practice)

One retirement exit strategy often considered by solo practitioners and small law firm owners 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. ... Read More

If There’s a Will, There’s a Way: Comparing Succession Planning to Estate Planning

I was recently reading the business section of my local newspaper and came across an article on the importance of having a will. The focus of the article was on how to prevent people from delaying getting the task accomplished. The writer asked several financial planners for the best strategies they use to help their clients complete this task. ... Read More

Preparing for the Unexpected & the Inevitable: Law Firm Succession Planning for Disability & Death

Lawyers are notorious for thinking of ways things can go wrong for their clients and then determining the best ways to protect their clients from them. One calamity few lawyers ever consider, however, is their own unexpected disability that puts their career on hold—or worse, their death. ... Read More

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 that 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