Will the client stay when the partner retires?

Some law firms needlessly lose a significant amount of business when senior partners retire. Yet anticipating and preparing for those retirements with an effective client succession process can ensure that handovers go smoothly and clients stay with the firm when the relationship partner retires. This protects the firm’s finances and stability and has numerous other benefits as well.

Highlights of this issue:
• How partner retirements can lead to lucrative business opportunities for a law firm.
• Retirement resources that may be helpful.
• New publications that may interest you.
• My upcoming speaking engagements. If you’ll be in any of the cities where I’ll be, let me know if you’d like to get together.

Retirement and Client Succession
Partner retirements present valuable opportunities that too many law firms overlook. In firms of all sizes, senior partners often represent a large percentage – sometimes the majority – of the partners who control major client relationships and generate a disproportionate percentage of firm revenues. This means that their retirement can have a terrible, even catastrophic, financial impact on the firm if their clients decide to take their business elsewhere. After all, clients frequently use an outside lawyer’s retirement as a chance to look around for new representation, and in this competitive climate, there are many firms for them to choose from.

On the other hand, a partner’s pending retirement can give your firm numerous lucrative opportunities. If managed properly, transitioning clients to other lawyers in your firm can increase…

Retirement Planning: How far we’ve come

It has been 8 years since I started focusing on retirement and what it means for lawyers and their firms. I’d like to share with you some observations about the changes I’ve seen and the initiatives firms are undertaking in response to those changes.

When I began, few lawyers or firms realized the importance of preparing for retirement or had any idea how to do it. They figured that the only necessary advance planning was financial. Fortunately, that attitude is changing. There have been significant shifts regarding retirement thinking among both individual lawyers and law firms.

One shift I see is a growing awareness, openness and desire for help. As people now remain healthy and active far longer than ever before, their post-career lives can last decades. And though many older partners want to practice as long as they can, younger lawyers do not want or expect to spend most of their longer-than-ever lives in law practice.

Lawyers’ understanding of retirement is also changing. Rather than fearing it as an “ending” or descent into oblivion (or alternatively, as one long carefree holiday), they are starting to recognize that retiring is the beginning of a new stage of life. Even senior lawyers who are ready to slow down or step away from what they are doing, do not intend to spend the next few decades purely in travel and leisure. They want to stay actively engaged with the world because they…

Got a minute? Let’s talk retirement

I’m excited to tell you that my new video series, “Got a Minute? Let’s Talk Retirement,” will launch this week! These short videos will answer questions I’m asked frequently by lawyers and law firms about retirement – including some that many of you sent me in response to my recent request for questions. I will produce and post more videos over the next few months, so please continue sending me questions you would like me to address.

The first 18 videos cover a variety of subjects that present challenges for lawyers and law firms. Here are three examples:

How will I know when I’m ready to retire?
Paying attention to your practice, workplace, and feelings will give you the clues you need to decide when it’s time to move on.

How long does a client transition take?
Various factors affect how long it takes to transition clients, but it usually takes longer than you expect.

How can we motivate partners to prepare successors and transition clients?
Partners are more likely to prepare successors and transfer clients if they appreciate the reasons, incentives and rewards for doing it, firm policies and practices are uniform, transparent and consistently applied, and they feel confident they will be treated fairly.

These and other videos are hosted on YouTube and my website. You can subscribe to the series at and receive notifications when…