Legal Business Development: Succession Planning

by Paula Black

Do you and your firm have a succession plan? Or maybe this sounds familiar: "I've been meaning to think about it, but it always gets pushed to the side by the everyday demands of the practice." 

I met a partner from a small firm that said nearly everyone in the firm was approaching retirement in the next nine years. When I asked what their succession plan looked like, his response was typical... "Quite frankly we haven't given it a thought." I followed up with... "Will you close the doors when the last partner retires?" He shrugged his shoulders indicating that he didn't know.

What is so horrifying about this situation is... What is at stake if you don't think about it before it is too late!

A life's work just evaporates into thin-air, yes thin-air! Is that how you want to leave the profession that you dedicated your life to? I refuse to believe that is your intent. I think it is just a matter of no forethought. It's the usual excuse that gets in the way of many things in our lives... "I'm too busy!" So, here's what's at stake...

Not being able to leave a legacy, because... you didn't plan.

Not being able to do what you TRULY want to do, because ... you didn't plan.

Not being able to "cash out" because... you didn't plan.

A Legacy? Think about the many law firms across the country big and small whose named partners are long gone... but they survived because of the stellar reputation of the founders and the firm culture they built. THAT doesn't happen by accident... it takes vision and planning.

What do you TRULY want to do with the rest of your life? If it is simply to play golf as long as you can, then you can stop reading and I wish you plenty of sunny days to be able to do that. But if it is not... I beg you to tap into the passions you have or shall I say, "had" and find a "calling". I will tell you that I have found mine and as long as I stay relevant I think I should be able to write and coach lawyers until the day I kick-the-bucket. Find YOUR calling... the one squelched, by the demands of life and the profession. I am confident that something is in there just waiting to get out... open the door! Think outside the box, think creatively, think back, think outrageously... be unreasonable! It takes vision and planning! 

Cash out? Cashing out can take many forms, but the one thing they all have in common is VALUE. So, I ask you... Are you creating value? Are you looking at your firm and your book of business through the lens of value? Build something that has value to someone... the trick is putting together the "something" with the "someone." It takes vision and planning. 

Don't let your life's work just evaporates into thin-air. Don't let the last stage of your life just be about the activities you didn't have time to do... make it be about your purpose... your calling!


Written by:

Paula Black

Paula Black & Associates on:

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