If you are a partner in a law firm today, let’s say you joined the partnership at age 30, and you’ve dedicated 35 years to practice. Actual workdays (365 minus 104 for weekends, minus 20 days for vacation with family, and never sick at all)
If we spin it another way, a 35-year partner likely has dedicated 70,000 hours to the firm in billable hours, investment hours, profile building, mentoring, managing, and so forth. Yet almost without exception leaders are uncomfortable raising the retirement issue with their elder shareholders, and conversations are often tricky at best, difficult at worst. Seventy thousand hours doesn’t leave room in the life of many professionals for other interests, and the Boomer retirement wave is fraught with challenges for these people and their firms.
As leaders, if we get it right, the firm, its clients and its retiring colleagues will be valued, resilient and friends and supporters of the firm as long as they are on the planet.
Succession is about the firm. Retirement is about the individual. The intersection is what we need to talk about here.
The Changing Stages of Career
Succession planned well starts early. In a career
If part of career development and mentoring encourages dialogue about creating a practice that is engaging and fulfilling, you are making it okay to shift away from some things in favor of finding joy in the practice. Happiness and engagement for the professional result in better services and better solutions for clients and correspondent durability for the firm.
Talent strategy firms have focused countless resources on meeting the needs of younger lawyers. They have created different career paths and found new ways to meet younger lawyers’ needs. These firms have designed career resources, put enormous energy and time into training and development, and have created frameworks that support the potential of their professional talent. Firms that shift some of that effort to re-inventing the paths and alternatives to retirement are not being kind or benevolent—they are being smart.
Noninterventionist cultures, on the other hand, are built around the assumption that a successful lawyer is equally successful in all other parts of his or her life. However, the mere mortals in your partnership often haven’t it figured out. Further, it’s important to note that 75 percent of
Consider the Totality of a Career
We all know lawyers who won’t leave. When you really talk with them about it, they don’t have anything else to do. They don’t want to be home all day, and they don’t have anywhere else to go. That’s not surprising. A career gives us purpose, meaning
What if the agenda for management conversations was developed to follow the arc of a career? The themes could be explored before they have a name attached to them. Early in a
Themes around identity, social connection, purpose
A firm cannot guarantee to keep people in the firm forever. Not all partners have the same options or the same perceived value. How leaders handle the generations that came before them speaks volumes about dignity, values