Intergenerational Planning of a Law Firm
Why Lawyers Should Be Thinking About Succession Planning
The population of lawyers is aging, which means that many law firm clients will soon need to be transferred to another generation of attorneys. For decades, as lawyers have neared retirement, most have failed to monetize their lives’ work. Unexpected health issues and other sudden changes can force partners to shut down their practices on short notice and miss out on the potential for continued revenues from the clients they pass on to other lawyers. This can be damaging to clients as well when there is a change in their representation without a plan in place.
The Succession Planning Process
The first step for partners looking to monetize their practices is to assess their options, and lawyers and firms often have more than they realize. Retiring completely is not the only path, and there is a range of timelines and structures available when it comes to transferring ownership in an established legal practice. We work with our clients to strategize the best plan of action, which might involve a merger, the hiring of outside talent, or traditional succession planning.
There are many elements to consider in succession planning, including the timeline that will make sense for the firm’s clients and the attorney looking to exit, how that lawyer will be compensated as other attorneys take over their representations, and what other marketing and human resources tasks might be necessary to the future success of the practice. We evaluate the goals of the existing partners at a firm through a series of individual calls and collective meetings, and we make a recommendation based on these.
Since 2008, we have also worked with lawyers looking to expand their books of business by succeeding to existing practices.