Solos, Small Firms … AM Law Practice Leaders: What Does Retirement Look Like?

Retirement . . . are you kicking back and enjoying your grandchildren? Are you sitting by the pool or playing golf? What is on your bucket list? Skydiving! Are you looking to ease into retirement now? Considering a firm with more than one location. Live in NYC but want to spend time in Florida?

“Begin with the end in mind” – Steven Covey author of 7 Habits of Highly Effective People. Imagine your goals. For decades you’ve been grinding it out, busy kicking ass and suddenly you realize that you’re not prepared for retirement. Let’s face it, you’re not getting any younger. Don’t let another day go bye.

The time to start thinking about retirement is NOW. Don’t wait until it’s too late. Is your firm’s lease coming due and you need to renew it? Is the firm aging and there is no one to take over?

For years you’ve been bringing on associates, but you haven’t made time to train anyone to take over the practice. It should come as no surprise that senior Big Law partners find it difficult transferring power to the next generation. Now what do the associates do? Join another firm.? Thinking of joining another firm, you’ve got a friend over there who might be able to get you in? Your colleagues may not know how to tell you they are not interested in your practice area.

Don’t make any hasty decisions just because you suddenly realize that you are not set up for retirement yet. You’ve invested years building your client base, don’t put these relationships at risk. Work with an intermediary such as a recruiter. A good recruiter can open doors for you, put you in touch with the right people and help you negotiate the best deal for you.

You have got to put systems into place to ensure the transition is seamless. Work with a strategic advisor who specializes in succession planning. Keep all your relationships intact. Take time to build a succession plan that protects your client’s interests and secures your financial future.

Life happens, FAST. What are your options?
Stay at your desk till you die.
Close shop and walk away.
Monetize your book of business.

In today’s world of mergers and acquisitions, what happens to you as a senior attorney? The AM law firms are notorious for marginalizing senior staff forcing them into retirement. Equity partnerships may dissolve. Are you working for a firm and you are not sure if your pension plan is fully funded? Do you stick it out and hope for the best?

A smooth transition of ownership starts with smart strategic decisions. Proper succession planning calls for careful consideration and preparation. While it may be difficult to entertain the thought of leaving, unexpected circumstances can force you to make that decision early.

It’s never too soon to outline a succession plan. Most lawyers are not prepared for their exit. They believe succession is still far away in the future. Many are in denial, and simply will not even think about a transition of ownership.

“A succession plan ensures that clients are taken care of and that no money is left on the table. You are able to exit under fair circumstances.” — Shari Davidson, President On Balance Search Consultants.

Maybe you still enjoy working but need to make time for those plans that have been put off until now. Your retirement must be supported by a sound strategy. Start with a clear idea of your destination and start taking steps to set your course in that direction.

About On Balance Search Consultants
On Balance offers great insight and industry intelligence. Shari Davidson, president of On Balance Search Consultants, advises law firms on how to take a firm to the next level and helps rising talent make the transition to the right law firm.

Contact us today. Call 516.731.4300 or visit our website at

Please note that the content of this blog does not constitute legal advice and is only intended for the educational purpose of the reader. Please consult your legal counsel for specifics regarding your specific circumstances and the laws in your states pertaining to social media and any legal restrictions regarding the law.

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