California Bar Journal
CBJ - April 2012 #01.
Successful Succession: Keep Your Best Clients When Boomer Lawyers Leave
The California LawyerApril 2012Successful Succession: Keep Your Best Clients When Boomer Lawyers Leave By Roy S. GinsburgThe demographic phenomenon known as the baby boom has been shaping all aspects of American life since its advent in 1946 - from an unprecedented number of students when the boomers were young, to an unprecedented number of workers during their adult years, to an unprecedented number of retirees in the years ahead. There is no escaping the impact of this generation.
For the next 19 years, about 10,000 people a day will turn 65 - including many of the nation's most experienced and respected attorneys. The American Bar Association estimates that there are 400,000 baby boomer lawyers - approximately one-third of the nation's current total. Before long, golf courses may be as crowded as highways.
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 two decades. Is your law firm prepared for the impact of this seismic generational transition?
The impact will be felt well-beyond the law firm itself. Clients who have been well-served for years will find themselves bereft of the lawyer with whom they have built and maintained a personal and professional relationship over the years. Who at your law firm is prepared to step to the plate and keep these clients equally satisfied? The future health of your law firm depends upon how today's leadership plans for the firm's post-boomer viability. This important effort is called succession planning.
Obstacles to Planning
Afraid to Plan
In order to plan for the future of your law firm, you need to know the retirement plans of the firm's senior lawyers. Obtaining this knowledge is easier said than done. It can be problematic to simply start a conversation about the subject. Many senior lawyers avoid raising the issue on their own due to a variety of real or perceived fears, including potential reduction of compensation or loss of clout among partners. Others resist any conversation that involves thinking about the end of their professional career - with its hints of their eventual mortality.
Junior lawyers whose futures are at stake have their...