Legal Career Resources

Are You Retiring? Prepare Yourself for a Happy Retirement
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If you are a seasoned senior law firm partner, there is likely a succession plan in your practice group and your office. Your own retirement transition is probably a part of that plan. By now, you have seen other partners “retire” and very soon after they regularly come back to the office to read the paper. 

Do you have something more exciting in mind? What’s the first thing that comes to mind when you think about your retirement? The vacation of a lifetime, a chance to pursue your hobbies, more time to see your loved ones– or panic that you would feel lonely and unfulfilled?

Our two cents: Map out your retirement ride ahead, and develop a bulletproof plan for the future.


Here are some ideas that might help you get your foot in the door:

Go Back to the Future

If you have seen Back to the Future, you likely have thought that the Delorean turned time machine comes in handy to Marty McFly. Well, why not jump into a figurative Delorean and go back to your future. No doubt you made tons of professional, personal and associative contributions to your coworkers, peers, and family over your career. From what type of work do you get the most excitement? With whom are you doing that work? Are there any promises that you made to yourself (e.g., learning a language, a philanthropy consulting, board service,)? Do you still wish to keep these promises? 

Instead of thinking about your retirement in 5-10 years from now, think about what your retired life could look like in 6-12 months from now. For example, you might have an interest in painting and consider art as an area of opportunity after you retire. Set a goal to explore more about the art market in the next year by speaking with 3 artists and attending galleries and exhibitions.

Do a Mock Retirement

Take a day off. Heck, take a week off. Pretend you are in your retirement. What would you do? If you have a partner, suggest that they take the week off too. Both of you can test drive the retirement together. This retirement test drive might give you an idea of what it would actually look like once you are out of work and the only thing on your agenda is to take the dog out for a walk. See how you feel and analyze it. This would help you to predict the downsides to your retirement, once it actually happens and it will give you the idea of how to deal with it. 

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Don’t Retire Alone

Don’t do it alone. While you were working hard to climb the ladders of your career, a number of people who supported you were waiting for the day you retire so they could spend time with you. There are many people who want to see you succeed and be happy. Put pen to paper and list out the people you want to spend more time with, including family, friends, clients and colleagues. Contact them and let them know about your transition plans.

Consult Your Network

At this point in your career, you have likely amassed an extensive network of business and legal contacts. Reach out to your network and ask those who have already retired for advice. Find out how are they spending their retirement. Are they traveling, spending time with grandchildren, volunteering, taking classes? – Or maybe they are using retirement as an opportunity to shift gears and try a different kind of work?-Many attorneys stay productive and busy after they retire by doing project-based work, mentoring, consulting assisting nonprofits, teaching, or a host of other activities. 

If you are intrigued by the sound of this, invite them out for coffee or lunch and find out more about opportunities in that area. Ask them what their retired friends are doing, too, and if it’s something that sparks your interest, ask for an introduction.

Share Your Knowledge

At this point in your career, you have amassed a remarkable amount of knowledge and experience. Why not share it with others? Every fresh-faced associate or law student wants to have a wise and experienced mentor. There’s nothing like taking on a mentee. If you don’t like the traditional way of taking on a mentee, toy with the idea of legal blogging or legal podcast. 

Get Started

 Pick a retirement transition date, whether it is one, two, or three years. When there is a specific time frame, then you have something to aim for. 

While retirement differs from other career transitions, it is a natural career stage. When you advance through a career, every move builds on what you have achieved; changes keep you moving forward and you get a sense of what to expect in the next phase. However, retirement is the downward curve of the legal career arc. As a senior partner-facing retirement, the future might seem like an entirely uncharted territory filled with uncertainties. It does not have to be that way. Test out these few ideas and see where it goes. Here’s to your next chapter – good luck! 



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