Issue 44, Winter 2017

The start of every new year brings with it new possibilities. Longstanding activities can be enhanced or changed and new opportunities abound. This is an exciting time for me professionally, with ongoing projects and one brand new venture keeping me busy and engaged. Sponsorship is at the forefront of gender diversity and inclusion efforts, and my sponsorship book and Breakfasts for Champions continue to be effective and popular means of promoting it. My international mentoring project and speaking engagements continue to enrich my consulting practice. I am starting to write a second edition of The Lawyer’s Guide to Mentoring

In addition, I am beginning to shift into a new area: helping senior professionals “retire” through a service called What’s Next. I put “retire” in quotation marks because today that term has different and less somber implications than it has had in the past. Retirement today is no longer the end of a long, successful career, but rather the beginning of the next stage of life. It simply means leaving your current position and moving on to a future filled with many exciting opportunities for learning, work, service and adventure. What’s Next will help firms and individuals plan for that transition.

This issue of Management Solutions highlights “What’s Next” and offers readers an article to download about the importance of firms and partners communicating about and preparing for retirement. It also includes links to: chapters I have written in two new books on legal talent management; podcasts and interviews where I discuss mentoring, sponsorship, innovation and leadership; the Professional Development Roundtable for Global Law Firms; and several upcoming events where I will be leading or speaking.

January is National Mentoring Month! You still have time to honor it - contact your mentor or mentee or look for a new one. Visit the National Legal Mentoring Consortium or the National Mentoring Partnership websites for information and get more involved in mentoring in your firm or community.

If you would like to discuss any of these subjects or my services, please contact me. I would love to hear from you.

In This Issue

What’s Next

Few resources are currently available to help lawyers and other professionals face and plan for retirement. More than 25% of practicing lawyers today are over 65, and by 2020, all Baby Boom lawyers will be 55 or older. Some of these lawyers will continue to practice indefinitely because they love what they do, feel strong and healthy, and remain highly productive. But many senior lawyers will stay where they are for as long as they can only because they cannot imagine any meaningful alternatives. They worry that retiring will rob them of purpose, status, relationships and money, and will turn them into irrelevant, bored and boring “formerly important” people. Most share the attitude of a Philadelphia lawyer who practiced until he died at age 104: “What? Retire? Sit in a rocking chair and wait to die?” 

Yet with increasing longevity, improved health, and growing options for work and recreation, retirement should no longer be seen in this depressing way. If treated as a natural part of the career lifecycle and thoughtfully designed, it can be rejuvenating, stimulating, active, meaningful, and fun. For the firm, a well-planned transition for senior lawyers allows for better leadership and client succession, keeps the pipeline to the upper ranks open to more junior partners, and promotes the transfer of wisdom, business and good will from departing senior partners to the next generation. 

Yet less than a third of law firms engage in formal succession planning, and scarcely any firms offer encouragement or support to partners in connection with retirement. Many of my clients, both individuals and firms, have expressed a desire for such assistance, so I have started a new venture, called “What’s Next,” to provide these needed services. What’s Next will:

  1. Help firms develop policies and processes for retirement, client transitions and leadership succession, 
  2. Coach and advise lawyers as they consider, plan for and transition into their next stage of life, and 
  3. Offer workshops and presentations for lawyers and spouses on planning for retirement. 

The attached paper, “We Need to Talk: Managing Senior Partners’ Retirement and Succession,” discusses all of this in more detail. If you would like information about What’s Next and how I can help you or your firm, please contact me.

Recent Publications

"Innovation in Supporting Excellence – From Mentoring to Sponsorship, Coaching and Beyond" is the chapter I co-authored with Jessica Natkin in the newly published Innovating Talent Management in Law Firms, Terri Mottershead, General Editor. The book is available in the NALP bookstore.


I contributed a chapter on "Gender Balance: Winning the Battle to Retain Women at Mid and Senior Levels in Law Firms" in the forthcoming book, Recruiting and Retaining Lawyers: Innovative Strategies to Attract, Develop and Retain Legal Talent, edited by Rebecca Normand-Hochman on behalf of the International Bar Association. The book will be published by Globe Law and Business in February, but you can read about and pre-order it here


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Upcoming Events

Washington State Bar

January 31, 2017

On January 31, I will be presenting a Legal Lunchbox CLE webcast on "Mentorship Fundamentals: Best Practices for Strengthening Your Skills as an Attorney Mentor or Mentee” with Tim Jaasko-Fisher for the Washington State Bar MentorLink Program. 

Global Professional Development Roundtable

March 6, 2017 - March 7, 2017

The next meeting of the Global PD Roundtable will be held March 6-7, 2017 in San Francisco, CA. Roundtable membership is open to talent management and professional development leaders in global law firms. For information about the Roundtable and the meeting agenda, and to register for the meeting, please contact me.

Association of Legal Administrators

April 4, 2017 - April 5, 2017

I will be in Denver April 4-5, speaking at the 2017 Annual Meeting of the Association of Legal Administrators on "What’s Next? How to Help Senior Lawyers and Administrators Transition Out of Practice."

2017 Hastings Leadership Academy for Women

The 2017 Hastings Leadership Academy for Women will take place this year from July 19-22 at Hastings Law School in San Francisco.

ABA Rule of Law Initiative on Mentoring

February 2, 2017 - February 7, 2017

February 2-7, I will be in Tbilisi, Georgia, with the ABA Rule of Law Initiative to evaluate the lawyer mentoring program in the Middle East that I have written about in the past. You can read about that project here.

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Interviews & Media

Why you need mentors and sponsors: Interview

November 3, 2017

Sara Holtz, an expert who has taught and coached countless successful women rainmakers and leaders about business development, now hosts a podcast series called "Advice to My Younger Self." Sara interviewed me for one of these podcasts. You can listen here to our discussion about “Why you need mentors and sponsors."

Meet the InnovAction Judges: Ida Abbott

I was a member of the judging panel again this year for the College of Law Practice Management’s InnovAction Awards. The College posted information about the awards and the judges on its website. You can read about this year’s award winners here and the page about me here

Interview: Transforming Women's Leadership

August 31, 2016

Transforming Women's Leadership, an initiative of Thomson Reuters Legal and Executive Institute, interviewed me about how Breakfasts for Champions, based on my book, Sponsoring Women: What Men Need to Know, help create a safe place for men and women to discuss gender imbalance in the legal profession. You can read the interview here.

Lessons from Women Law Firm Leaders

November 3, 2016

I was featured in an article, “Lessons from Women Law Firm Leaders,” written by Marsha Watson Wasserman, and published in the November/December issue of Law Practice Magazine.

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