I am the sole owner of a twelve-lawyer defense litigation practice in Chicago. We represent automobile manufactures and have approximately ten major clients. I am the only equity partner in the firm and all of the other lawyers in the firm are associates. Two associates are seasoned lawyers with substantial experience and have been with the firm for many years and the other nine have less than five years experience. The two seasoned associates are in their mid-sixties. I am sixty-eight. I just realized that the firm’s office lease expires in eight months and I have decided that this is a good time to retire. I will not sign another lease and I would like to be completely retired in the next six months. My wife has some health issues and I need to devote my total time time to her. I have talked with the two senior associates and they plan on retiring as well. Therefore, I will have to either close the firm or find another firm interested in taking over the firm. Have I waited too long?
Possibly so. Eight months is a very short timeline to locate another law firm that might be interested in acquiring or merging with your firm. However, this is not always the case. I have had situations where interested parties were located in a month or two through cold approaches, discussions held, details worked out, and the transaction concluded within six months. If you have a few firms in mind that you could approach the process could go much quicker than if cold approaches have to be used. So your timeline is not impossible but you need to get started yesterday. Keep in mind that client transition is paramount in the success of such arrangements and usually the acquiring firm wants a transition period, often of a year or so in which you work at the firm in a consultant capacity to assist with client relationship management and transition. Therefore, you might have to stick around in an Of Counsel role for a year or two.
John W. Olmstead, MBA, Ph.D, CMC
Our firm is an estate planning practice in the suburbs of Washington D.C. We have five attorneys and six support staff working at the firm. During the COVID lockdowns in 2020, and to some extent in 2021, our attorneys and staff worked remotely. At first we all felt that productivity actually increased. However, after a month or two working remotely we began to change our minds. Communications with each other, review of work, etc. took much longer and once the lockdowns were lifted all of us were anxious to return to the office. We have been working almost exclusively at the office since the lockdowns were lifted. During the last several months we had to hire an additional attorney and a couple of paralegals. During the hiring process we found that prospective employees are demanding some form of remote work option. In order to hire these employees we had to provide them with a partial remote work option as well as signing bonuses. Is remote work here to stay?
I believe it is, especially in large metropolitan areas with heavy traffic congestion and long commute time. Law firms of all sizes are finding that hiring and retaining talent – attorneys and staff – is becoming increasingly difficult and is their number one strategic challenge and even more concerning than development of business. Large and small law firms are implementing permanent remote work policies in various forms.
Post-COVID-19, one of the innovations of the pandemic, the adoption of remote work, is set to attract the best talent to law firms. This was seen in a recent survey from legal recruiter Major, Lindsey & Africa, which found that most lawyers from the incoming generation are looking for an opportunity to work remotely, even if it’s just some of the time.
According to a recent survey conducted by FlexJobs survey, 97 percent of workers want some form of remote work post-pandemic, with 58 percent preferring to be full-time remote and 39 percent opting for a hybrid work environment. To provide insight into the broad interest in remote career opportunities amid an uncertain and fast-changing work landscape, FlexJobs has released a report: FlexJobs has released a report: Remote Work Statistics: Navigating the New Normal, which offers a by-the-numbers look at the current impact of remote work on the workplace.
“The data outlined in this report suggests that even during the most challenging of circumstances, remote work provides important benefits across the board,” said Sara Sutton, Founder and CEO of FlexJobs. “From improved mental health and better work-life balance to increased job satisfaction, the majority of employees have responded very favorably to remote work, with many now strongly inclined to pursue a permanent remote career. As we consider the future of work, it’s clear remote work policies will be critical in shaping the modern workplace,” Sutton concluded.
Visit https://www.flexjobs.com/blog/post/remote-work-statistics/ for more information.
I believe you should at least consider a partial remote work option going forward.
John W. Olmstead, MBA, Ph.D, CMC