I am old enough to remember the urban legends spoken by our dearly beloved elders. “You kids have it so easy these days. Back in my day we had to trek through blizzards for ten miles wearing boots that barely covered our feet.”
I’m sure you’ve heard older partners say something to the effect of “When I was a junior, I kept my head down and my mouth shut and just did the work. Eventually I got to work with a partner and learned my way. You kids want us to show you everything. Whatever happened to self-reliance?”
While I agree that self-reliance is an important quality to have, I don’t believe that leaving your juniors to fend for themselves is your best business decision.
The thing is this. The sink or swim attitude or approach wasn’t good then, and it’s certainly not good now. If you don’t develop your junior talent, they will leave and go and work for your competition. Down the road, who is going to be left to buy you out when you want to retire?
When you develop your talent, give them constructive feedback in order that they can learn and grow, it’s an investment that will directly affect your own pocket-book. Nothing is ever 100%. But from my experience, taking a more positive approach and developing your talent will pay off more than it won’t.
If you don’t do it because it’s right thing to do, fine. Do it because it will put more money in your pocket.
Are you a solo practice lawyer with retirement staring at you in the face? What about a small firm owner in the same situation? Have you thought about your exit strategy? Cashout or retirement?
It’s never too early to plan. Do you have a plan?
Are you simply going to close the doors and walk away? That would be a shame after putting your heart and soul into your career for so many years. But I see it happening in staggering numbers. A colleague of mine worked for over 40 years building his successful practice, only to close the doors and walk away. That’s money, big money he left on the table. No reward at the end of a long and successful career. It doesn’t make any sense.
So you’ve worked your entire career building your practice/firm/company. Retirement is on the horizon. What is your plan? Will you simply walk away? Will you forfeit all of your hard work, time, and energy and not reap the full benefits of your hard work?
Why not start planning now! Why not work to building up your practice/firm/ company so that it becomes more attractive to have someone or another firm buy you out? That’s your cash out! That’s your retirement reward.
Now there are two main options the way I see it. The first is to build your firm/practice/company and have a broker sell it for you. The second option is to groom within to bring on other associates and work with them to eventually take the firm over. In both cases though, it’s in your best interest to develop your staff so that you can point to a track record where everyone on your team is a valuable part of its growth. In other words, they all know how to, and have a proven record of bringing in new business. That makes your firm more profitable and attractive whichever option you choose.
But don’t wait until retirement is staring you in the face. Plan now!. Act now! Far too many professionals don’t give this enough thought and before they know it, it’s too late.
There are many reasons why boomers should be working with millennials and vice versa. For this post I want to concentrate on what I believe is one of the most crucial reasons-succession.
As we all know these two demographic groups are currently the largest within the current workforce. Aging boomers looking to retire in the next few years need millennials to step up and take the helm. Millennials who are starting out or fledgling in their careers need the boomers to teach them, mentor them and groom them for future leadership.
Whatever differences these two demographic groups have, they must be overcome for the benefit of all.
Here is a link to a recently published article I wrote on succession planning. It’s aimed at law firm and professional service firm management. However, it wouldn’t hurt to pass it along to some of your senior partners.
It is never too early to think about your own succession plan. I work with many small firm owners at various stages of their careers. Many small firm owners wait until they are on the cusp of retirement to think about succession. One way to prepare for succession is to groom your people or recruit people to mentor and develop so one day they will be in a position to buy you out. I am a big fan of this approach as it’s a win for you in your firm will have a higher value; a win for whoever is buying you out as they will have the chance to build relationships with the clients and staff; and a win for the clients as they will have confidence in the lawyer already.
I’ve seen many retiring lawyers over-value their firm and eventually end up just walking away from it altogether because they didn’t plan well enough in advance. You see if you wait too long, you’re only really selling good-will, your client list. There is no guarantee that the firm clients will stay on with a new lawyer they have no relationship with. So either groom your people from within, or bring someone on about three years before you intend on retiring with the intention that they will buy you out. In two cases I know the seller of the firm and the buyer of the firm worked together for at least two years before the selling lawyer retired. This gave the buying lawyer time to build relationships with clients and staff.
I have two clients who are only half-way through the process of buying into a firm, and they are already thinking ahead to retirement. They are already thinking about succession planning. And this has affected their approach to recruitment. It’s never too early to think the end game.
Over time little drops of water accumulate and form a puddle; growing into a stream, flowing into a river and eventually creating a lake, rushing into the ocean. And that’s exactly how growing your practice or firm works. New habits take time, and with repetition create lasting and impactful results. It all starts with that first drop; or in your case, first step.
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