Law Practice Management Asked and Answered Blog

Category: Coming

May 20, 2015

Law Firm Succession – Coming to Terms With Aging


I am the managing partner in a 12 attorney firm in Chicago. We have 6 partners and 6 associate. We a boutique litigation firm. Three of our partners are in their mid to late 60s and should be thinking about retirement but they seem to be in denial? How to we begin to addresses this issue?


Several years ago I was giving a presentation to an ALA (Association of Legal Administrators) Chapter and after the presentation an administrator came up to me and asked, “what kind of financial incentives can we put in place to encourage some of our senior attorneys to retire”? I responded by saying “help them identify some hobbies.” While my comment was partially in jest, many attorneys,
especially baby boomers, have invested so much into their careers and law practices they have not had either the desire or time to invest into other areas of interest.

The more difficult components of retirement include:

For some people the best way to retire may be to continue working.      

For others, rather than being a time of easing back and retiring into old age or continuing to work in one’s old job or career, it can be a time of personal growth and an opportunity to explore other interests, callings, and vocations. It can be a time of freedom to do what you always wanted to do but could not because you had to earn money and the pressure of work prevented you from pursuing you dreams and interests that were in tune with you values and beliefs. Here is a list of a few areas that lawyers approaching retirement might want to explore:

  1. Teaching courses at a local law school or university
  2. Pro-bono work
  3. Writing
  4. Photography, gardening, travel, or other hobbies
  5. Serving as a director on a profit or non-profit board
  6. Counseling
  7. Volunteering

Retirement planning begins with taking the time to think about how one will use their time.
If you live fifteen years beyond your retirement your will have 28,800 hours that will have to be filled with retirement activities. (five days a week, eight hours a day, 48 weeks, for fifteen years)

Find ways to encourage your senior attorneys to explore and think about their future and explore other interests - both at home and at the firm.

Click here for our blog on succession

Click here for out articles on various management topics

John W. Olmstead, MBA, Ph.D, CMC


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