Five Fundamentals for Successful Succession Planning

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US and Canadian Bar demographics indicate that 30% to 40% of actively practicing lawyers are at an age and stage where they are beginning to retire, phase down, or contemplate the end of their careers.   A recent Law Firms in Transition Survey by Altman Weil found that partners of age 60 or older control at least one-quarter of total firm revenue in 63% of responding firms.  The same survey also reported that only 31% of law firms have a formal succession planning process.

So therein lies the rub, the rock and the hard place: 30% to 40% of lawyers phasing down, many with management/leadership positions and huge practices — and no formal plans to capture the value of their relationships and experience for the firm's future. 

Based on our experience working with law firms to develop and implement effective succession strategies, we see the following five best practices as fundamental building blocks for every law firm that does not currently have a formal succession planning process.

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