Searching for fodder for blog posts, I came across this advertisement posted by a soon to be 70 year old retiring lawyer who is seeking buyers for his law practice located in Syracuse, in Hamilton County, Kansas. According to the ad there are only two other lawyers in the County, thus allowing for a County-wide practice. And with the firm located just sixteen miles from the Colorado border, with reciprocity between the two jurisdictions, expansion into a second state is a possibility as well. Finally, the firm uses practice management tools like Amicus, HotDocs and QuickBooks, which allows for automatic document production and scheduling and includes a database with a list of 4000 contacts.
Though a young lawyer taking over this practice might want to consider moving to a cloud based system which is the wave of the future, at least the attorney selling the practice has invested sufficiently in technology to enable a seamless transfer and provide a new owner with the means to hit the ground running. Often, when I travel on speaking engagements, I am struck by how many long practicing lawyers have not taken the time to invest in technology, and still run practices heavily dependent upon support staff and paper. When these lawyers retire, what will they have to pass on?
To find an answer, I spoke to the preeminent authority on selling a law practice – Ed Poll of LawBiz Management, publisher of the Law Biz Blog and author of many, many books on law practice, most recently, Growing Your Practice in Tough Times Ed graciously answered my questions on law firm succession, selling a practice, what lawyers can do to position themselves for retirement and how younger lawyers may be able to position themselves to take over retiring lawyers’ practices. Ed also has some of his own videos on this topic
here and here.
Finally, if you’re not yet ready for retirement and thinking about your future plans, check out Lawyers at Midlife by Michael Long, John Clyde and Pat Funk, published by DecisionBooks (which also published Solo by Choice). Lawyers at Midlife helps lawyers decide whether and when to retire, how to make the transition to the next stage and closing a practice. The book contains extensive practical advice interspersed with personal commentary by the authors and other lawyers.