Second Chance Solos

What are older lawyers to do when their time expires at big law due to stringent mandatory retirement deadlines?  Some may decide to stop practicing law entirely – but for those who aren’t yet ready to leave to the courtroom, solo practice offers a second chance for a second act.

Consider for example, Lawrence Abner – the subject of a recent Law 360 piece . Abner, a 1972 Harvard Law graduate whose impressive credentials include stints at the Department of Justice and several large firms recently opened Capitol Appellate Advocacy here in Washington D.C. Similarly, the National Law Journal  just reported that Jerrold Ganzfried who departed Holland and Knight back in December 1, after a combined 30 years of appellate experience at biglaw and the solicitor general – is also giving solo practice a go. Both Abner and Ganzfried are optimistic about their prospects – and why shouldn’t they be? With deep connections to the legal community and impressive credentials, they surely have plenty of options.

James Quinn, another big law retiree profiled in Bloomberg has taken slightly different path. A trial lawyer with 40 years of experience at Weil, Gotshal, Quinn has joined up as of counsel at  Berg and Androphy , a litigation boutique.  Quinn’s role model is flamboyant Texas lawyer (who also had his own firm) Joe Jamail who practiced until he passed away at 90 a year ago.

Of course, practicing solo as an older lawyer is not without challenges- the most significant being knowing when it’s  time to turn over the reigns to the next generation. But until then, I for one welcome the influx of retired lawyers into the solo fold where clients and other lawyers can benefit from their wisdom, experience and perspective as our profession changes faster than ever before.