I have some very exciting news to share with you. I am thrilled to announce that my new companion e-course for Retirement by Design is now available to help you prepare for retirement and help your firm manage partner succession and retirement more effectively. Also, the National Legal Mentoring Conference is back after a long pandemic-forced delay and registration is open. You can read more about both my course and the conference below.
I’m often asked whether retirement affects men and women differently. Based on my observations and experience, there are more similarities than differences among professionals, but when it comes to facing and adjusting to retirement, men struggle more. Scroll down to read more.
Then, scroll down farther and you’ll find links to my recent presentations, podcast interviews, and article about topics related to succession planning and retirement.
And if you’re looking for help with retirement issues, personally or for your firm, or if you need a speaker on retirement or mentoring subjects, please contact me.
Retirement by Design: Companion E-Course Benefits Individuals and Firms
The success of my book, Retirement by Design, has revealed a hunger for help in preparing for retirement. My new e-course provides this help in a visual medium that supplements the text and helps people ease into the process of planning for post-career life. In the feedback I’ve received and the conversations I have had, certain themes keep recurring about the value people find in the course – both to themselves and to their firms.
The course helps people feel better equipped to discuss, prepare for, and transition into retirement. They find that the design thinking approach broadens their thinking and helps them understand retirement in a new and positive way. They are inspired to reflect on their careers, their skills, their worries, their dreams, and the possibilities open to them in the future, in ways they hadn’t considered before. And being able to work in private, at their own pace, and on their own timeline, gives them a greater sense of control and comfort, allows them to give the planning process closer attention, and makes them more likely to actually do the planning.
The course also helps law firms manage succession planning and client transitions. Most people don’t realize that retirement is one of the most challenging and unsettling transitions in life. It’s natural that the prospect of retiring creates anxiety, and many lawyers simply resist thinking about it, much less planning for it. And law firm compensation systems and cultures often reinforce the reluctance to address retirement and client relationship transitions willingly, openly and proactively.
With the right resources, firms can make retirement planning more appealing and transitions easier. That’s what my course is designed to do. It cannot overcome financial and cultural barriers, but it does facilitate candid discussions and smoother transitions by allaying the fears and discomfort that make retirement discussions hard for both the firm and the lawyers who are nearing retirement.
Like the book, this course uses design thinking to make the retirement planning process more creative, adaptable and enjoyable. Each of the 8 videos introduces and explains key points, presents some exercises related to those points, and refers to the chapters in the book where you can go into the process in greater depth. (You receive a pdf of the book when you register.)
You can read more about the course and register at www.Retirement-By-Design.com. To make the course available to multiple people at your firm, bulk pricing discounts are available. And from now until Labor Day, I’m offering a 10% discount. Just use the discount code retirement10 at checkout when you register or purchase a package.
National Legal Mentoring Conference: Register Now!
Another exciting announcement is that the National Legal Mentoring Consortium is holding a national conference on legal mentoring this October 6-8, 2022, at Loyola University Law School in Chicago. The pandemic did more than simply delay this conference – it challenged lawyers, law firms, law schools, state bars, and other organizations to maintain, expand and optimize mentoring relationships and programs. This conference will address the lessons learned, techniques and technologies employed, best practices and new innovations, that allow mentoring to flourish under challenging and changing circumstances. If you care about legal mentoring, run a mentoring program or want to start one, or just want to know the latest and best in the field, this conference is the place to be!
The Early Bird registration discount has been extended to August 31. So register now and save $50. Learn more about the conference, join the Consortium and register for the conference here.
Does retiring affect men and women differently?
“Retirement age” today might be anywhere from mid-50s to late 70s. The vast majority of lawyers in this age group are men. In my experience and observation, professional men and women are more alike than different when facing and transitioning into retirement. As a professional, your career is integral to who you are, how you see and feel about yourself, and how society views and treats you. Even though lawyer jokes suggest otherwise, lawyers hold a privileged status and a place of significance in society. Giving that up can leave you feeling unmoored and adrift, even traumatized. While some men and women are eager and well-prepared to retire, others struggle, and in many ways, men struggle more.
Gender disparities have put women at a disadvantage throughout their careers, and in their post-career lives, men also tend to be more financially secure than women. But for lawyers, the larger challenges of retiring are those that affect emotional and social well-being. In those aspects of retirement, women often have the advantage.
For many women, the process of entering unknown and uncertain post-career territory may be uncomfortable, but it feels familiar. Women who are now of retirement age had to analyze who they were and how they fit in over and over again throughout their career. They had few or no role models. At work, they frequently had to adjust their behavior (and wardrobe) and redefine their identities. Many stepped away from the workplace for periods of time and then had to adjust and redefine all over again when they returned, especially if they had children. Their roles, activities and responsibilities were more varied, and extended farther beyond work and career, than most men. To help them stay sane and resilient, women formed friendships and social connections that were personal, not just work-related. Both during their career and after, they have been open to talking with friends, coaches, and others about what they need and feel.
Men who retire never had to go through these mental gymnastics. For many men, this may be the first time they have to completely reconsider who they are and their place in the world. The professional identity that defined them for decades is no longer applicable or privileged. They need to create a new post-career identity, but may not even know where to start. They may never have been in a psychological place where there are no rules, maps or guideposts, and you have to make things up as you go along. When they no longer have regular interactions with friends, clients and colleagues through work, they have fewer social connections to draw on for activities, and less emotional support because men generally form fewer intimate personal friendships. And they are embarrassed, or at least uncomfortable, talking with anyone about what they need or how they’re feeling.
Facing the prospect of an amorphous future is one of the reasons senior partners – especially men – have such a hard time letting go of clients and their place in the firm, even when they might prefer to retire. Making conversations about the future easier and providing resources – including retirement coaches, books, e-courses, affinity groups and mentoring groups – can ease the struggle and smooth out the process for partners and their firms. When it comes to legal talent, firms understandably direct their attention and resources to new and mid-career lawyers, who represent the future. But offering resources and support to the men and women reaching the culmination of a successful career offers a needed service and doesn’t cost much. And showing compassion doesn’t cost a cent.
Some of my recent video programs and podcasts as well as an article and a book that might interest you are listed below. And there are many other resources about retirement, mentoring, sponsorship and more on my website, so please visit and take a look around.
The West Virginia Judicial & Lawyer Assistance Program sponsored an important conference on “Age, Retirement, and Cognitive Decline.” You can watch the entire program on YouTube and also on the West Virginia State Bar website. My session, on “Retirement by Design, Not Default,” starts at minute 1:02. The other presenters spoke about “The Neuropsychology of Cognitive Decline,” and “Preparing for Retirement & Addressing Cognitive Decline.”
I was delighted to participate in a program on “Preparing for Lift Off: Starting Your Personal Journey to Post-Practice Life,” sponsored by the Senior Lawyers Division of the ABA and the National Association of Women Lawyers (NAWL), among others. We had a great discussion about many aspects of contemplating, planning, transitioning and living in retirement. That program was followed by another program with a different panel called “Life After Lift-Off: Designing Your Future.” ABA members can watch both programs here.
I was very glad to join Alay Yajnik on his podcast, Lawyer Business Advantage, to discuss succession planning. We discussed what retirement means today, preparing your firm for an uncertain future, how to hand over your firm with confidence, and finding purpose and meaning in retirement. You can listen on Alay’s website or on LinkedIn.
It was also a pleasure to speak with Steve Fretzin on his podcast, Be That Lawyer. Our discussion covered several subjects, including developing and retaining legal talent. We focused primarily on retiring: why it’s hard to imagine being retired, using it to as a time to examine and realign your values, the countless opportunities that await if you are open to them, and how to design a happy and fulfilling life in retirement. You can listen to the podcast here.
My article, “Making Time to Retire: Best Practices for Succession Planning and A Smooth Transition,” was published by professional liability insurer CNA in their newsletter, In Practice. Tracy Kepler, contributed to the article, which includes a discussion of ethical obligations to consider and a checklist of actions to take when you prepare to retire. You can read it here.
Jessica Natkin and Jessica Hernandez gave me the honor of writing the Foreword to their new book, Let’s Coach All the Lawyers, published by NALP. Both authors are legal talent development experts and coaches. The book explains everyday coaching techniques that can be used by legal talent professionals, human resource professionals, partners, and mentors to enhance lawyers’ professional and career development.