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September 19, 2018

Lawyers in Transition – Resources related to end-of-career issues

The ABA Center for Professional Responsibility has compiled resources, linked below, to help answer common questions and identify programming and policy innovations related to end-of-career issues confronting  lawyers.

The graying of the bar across the nation poses many challenges for  lawyers, their colleagues, the courts, lawyer and judicial regulators, clients, and a legal profession concerned about a justice gap exacerbated by the growing shortage of lawyers in certain regions.  These challenges include, but are not limited to, issues of cognitive impairment, succession planning, and how to better leverage the knowledge and expertise that lawyers transitioning out of practice possess. 

The Center will consider for inclusion on these webpages additional resources. Please send a description of and link to recommended resources to [email protected].

  • Aging of the Bar Data - The linked data and graphics spotlight bar demographics that are skewing older – dramatically so in some U.S. states and regions.
  • Succession Planning - What are effective models for implementing succession planning programs, helping lawyers decide, while still in their prime, who will handle their client matters if and when the time comes?  Succession planning is important for every lawyer.
  • Intervention and Impairment Assistance - How can we identify, assist, and, where appropriate, facilitate the transition out of practice of cognitively impaired  lawyers? Consistent with data on the graying of the bar, instances of cognitive impairment that impact practice are increasing. The organized bar, lawyer assistance professionals, lawyer disciplinary counsel, and others  are developing  multi-disciplinary approaches to identify affected  lawyers and, using intervention protocols, assist them in winding down their practices with dignity.
  • Regulatory Issues - What lawyer regulation issues are raised by the aging of the bar, and how might they be addressed in ways that treat affected practitioners whose skills are declining with dignity, while protecting client interests? 
  • Practice Opportunities for Transitioning Lawyers - For those lawyers transitioning out of practice who are willing and able to continue servicing clients, what opportunities exist for a second season of service, including pro bono work?
  • Senior Lawyer / Young Lawyer Mutual Enhancement Opportunities - Are there opportunities for senior lawyers looking for help with their established practices, and younger lawyers looking for a first opportunity to practice law, to join forces for their mutual benefit?

Additional ABA and other Resources