My Shingle

Solos Practice Longer…But For Love or For Money?

by Carolyn Elefant on October 24, 2007 · 2 comments

in Solo Practice Trends, Solo Profiles

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One of the benefits of running your own firm is that you don’t have a committee forcing you to retire. Perhaps that’s why some of the oldest practicing lawyers are those who work for themselves. Today, Bob Ambrogi, my co-blogger at Legal Blog Watch posted here about Reuben Landeau, a Boston lawyer who just passed away at the age of 103. According to the article, Landeau opened his firm in 1926 and last year, attended his 80th law school reunion. Perhaps it could be said that Landeau had a mandatory non-retirement policy; apparently, his 70 something son (with whom Landeau practiced) wanted to call it quits in 2004, but dad refused.

And in New Jersey, Florence Forgoton Adams, Monmouth County’s first female attorney, died at the age of 99, according to this
story. Like many female lawyers of that period, Adams started her own firm after graduating from NYU Law School, because none of the all male firms would hire her. Adams practiced law in Red Bank, NJ for more than 70 years, working a few days a week at her firm up until her death.

Mandatory retirement aside, why do solos stick with law for decades? Do they need the money…or do they love the law so much that they can’t part? Do you think you’ll be practicing law in your ’90s?

  • http://www.HowToMakeItrain.com RJON ROBINS

    Not long ago The Florida Bar Journal ran a profile on lawyers who have been practicing for MORE THAN 50 years. If I can find it, I’ll post a link on my blog. Back when I was a Practice Management Advisor with The Florida Bar’s Law Office Management Assistance Service we routinely recieved calls for help from attorneys in their 70′s, 80′s & beyond whose firms (un)wisely set them out to pasture. Typically they were calling for help to set up a home office because as I learned quite clearly, you can push the old lawyer out of the law firm, but you can’t get the law firm out of an old lawyer whose been wise enough to choose a practice area & select clients that s/he truly cares about.
    I said the law firms that push out the older lawyers do so unwisely because I saw lots of anecdotal evidence of mid-sized firms going into decline when that happens. Maybe it’s the karma that comes back to bite them in the ass. From my vantage point though it’s the overlooked unrealized value that never appears on the firm’s balance sheet of having someone around who has long ties to clients and referral sources and remembers where all the bones are burried so-to-speak from a time before CRM’s.

  • http://www.HowToMakeItrain.com RJON ROBINS

    Not long ago The Florida Bar Journal ran a profile on lawyers who have been practicing for MORE THAN 50 years. If I can find it, I’ll post a link on my blog. Back when I was a Practice Management Advisor with The Florida Bar’s Law Office Management Assistance Service we routinely recieved calls for help from attorneys in their 70′s, 80′s & beyond whose firms (un)wisely set them out to pasture. Typically they were calling for help to set up a home office because as I learned quite clearly, you can push the old lawyer out of the law firm, but you can’t get the law firm out of an old lawyer whose been wise enough to choose a practice area & select clients that s/he truly cares about.
    I said the law firms that push out the older lawyers do so unwisely because I saw lots of anecdotal evidence of mid-sized firms going into decline when that happens. Maybe it’s the karma that comes back to bite them in the ass. From my vantage point though it’s the overlooked unrealized value that never appears on the firm’s balance sheet of having someone around who has long ties to clients and referral sources and remembers where all the bones are burried so-to-speak from a time before CRM’s.

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