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.
If you are a well-seasoned lawyer with years of experience facing the end or near-end of your career, consider what follows.
After years of putting blood, sweat and tears in (so-to-speak), it would be a shame not to fully capitalize on your highly valuable knowledge and experience.
Solo? Don’t just close the doors and walk away. Consider bringing on some juniors and grooming them to take the reins when you are ready to head off to the next phase of your life. There may also be opportunities through strategic succession planning to grow your firm and position it to become more valuable to an outside buyer. Either way, it would be a shame not to capitalize on your way out.
Larger firm partner? Don’t want to retire? Try a ‘Reboot.’ If you are at a larger firm and faced with a mandatory partner retirement policy, consider negotiating an ‘of-counsel’ arrangement. While you may be bought out of the partnership, there are still ways you can continue to be of value to the firm, and draw a healthy salary, even if your time is paired back. There may also be opportunities to do less of the legal work and take on more of an official mentoring role, potentially even management.
Before you just give up and ride off into the sunset, consider your options. You have some.
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.
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.
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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