A principal from the firm of Altman Weil said that the fear of alienating clients since the recession has become a major fear of law firms, causing them problems with implementing succession plans within their firms. The principal, Alan R. Olson, said, “I’m still seeing firms planning only effectively at the last minute.”
Olson told Reuters that without proper leadership transition plans in place, law firms could see gaps in expertise and a loss of relationships with clients. He said that firms need long-term plans in place that can take effect over a span of five years. These plans can help clients transition to new lawyers within the firm.
Olson said that the plans are critical because firms are seeing 30 to 40 percent of practicing lawyers are beginning to retire in Canada and the United States. Olson said that firms should begin talking about succession issues by figuring out the inventory of their practice areas within their firms.
“Talking with senior lawyers, many of whom might be at their peak in terms of performance and productivity, can certainly be uncomfortable for an individual lawyer, but that’s a barrier that needs to be crossed,” said Olson.
“Doing so in a planning context doesn’t remove all the discomfort, but there’s a better chance to create a win-win-win outcome for clients, the firm and the individual.”