The biggest mistake lawyers in small firms make as they contemplate retirement is not hiring an expert to guide them along the way.
Instead, they try to do it all themselves. Even worse, they put off planning until the last minute, when it may be too late for a smooth, successful transition.
Those are some of the observations of Clayton Alexander, investment advisor and founder of Teton Wealth Group.
“Many small business owners have no HR department, nor do they have a dedicated financial representative,” Alexander writes here. “The years go by, and they continue operating with a lack of information about the retirement options they might have available to help both them and their employees. They may prioritize putting money back into their businesses over putting money away for their futures—potentially losing out on tax-deferred, compounding returns that can accumulate over time.”
For solo and small firm lawyers, the wise alternative is to hire a succession planning professional like Tom Lenfestey (founder of The Law Practice Exchange, LLC) and Camille Stell (president of Lawyers Mutual Consulting & Services). They work together to provide comprehensive, customized retirement and continuity services for lawyers in North Carolina and nationwide.
“As the resource for lawyer exit planning, we receive inquiries across the country (and beyond at times) from lawyers and law firms looking for help in planning their ownership transition,” writes Lenfestey, a member of the NC Bar Association’s Transitioning Lawyer Commission.
Have you been thinking about retirement, or slowing down? Do you wonder what the next step is? For many practicing attorneys, selling their law practice is a viable option. For others, a continuity plan provides protection and peace of mind for themselves as well as their partners, clients and employees. Learn more about these issues by attending the video CLE course “The Secrets of Buying, Selling and Other Succession Strategies Available to Lawyers to Continue to Practice Without Fear,” presented by Tom Lenfestey and Camille Stell. Click here for dates, locations, and to register.
Succession Strategies CLE Course
This three-hour CLE program will help you plan for a transition. Presenters Tom Lenfestey and Camille Stell will discuss the opportunities and challenges in selling your practice, the keys to a successful transition, how to value a law practice and find a potential buyer, maintaining client relationships, and many other items of importance during the transition and after.
The program will also include transition strategies and ideas for life after law. This program will be helpful for the lawyer retiring in six months or six years. The program qualifies for 3.0 hours of CLE credit, including 1.0 hour Substance Abuse/Mental Health and 1.0 hour Ethics/Professionalism.
There’s still time to earn credits to meet your 2019 CLE obligation. Here are dates and locations for the Succession Strategies course:
- February 24 – Greensboro
- February 25 AM – Cary
- February 25 PM – Greensboro
- February 26 – Asheville
- February 28 – Wilmington
Four FAQs on Succession Planning
- What is succession planning? Succession is planning for the future. It is not about stopping the practice of law. It is about having an actual, developed plan to address when that day comes. Retirement, death, disability and many other events can and will occur. Succession planning lets you take control of your timeline and the details of the transition, the sale, the value and other legacy items as you slow down and transfer your law firm or practice to the next generation.
- When should you start planning for succession? Now. Like, Right Now. Succession planning is much like getting a will for your law practice. Intentions are not a plan. We can help make sure these good intentions actually turn into a plan that is implemented.
- Why should you have a succession plan in place before you want to retire? Five years, 3 years, 10 years? We have heard it all. The time to start is right now! Having a succession plan in place doesn’t mean you are retiring. It means you have a plan for when you decide to retire or some other life event occurs. Starting as soon as possible for your personal plan or creating a succession program within your law firm is key. If you are trying to time things out to maximize income and profits for a perfect date to start succession it may end up being too late. You can retain control over the income and profits as needed, but putting a plan in place to show your successors the opportunities that lie ahead - and getting them committed to the law firm and you for the long term while still controlling your timeline - is all achievable.
- What will I do if I don’t practice law? This is a huge benefit of a sale or succession plan. Most plans have a transition timeline. Maybe you want to just keep certain types of cases or matters, work three days a week or be of-counsel and work when needed and desired. Taking control of your law firm’s equity transition doesn’t mean you are done practicing law. It simply lets you practice longer with greater flexibility to ease into retirement and without fear over the ‘what if’ life events that would be a problem if you still owned the firm. Protect your legacy and everything you’ve built by taking first steps…now!
Count on Lawyers Mutual. We’re the only legal professional liability insurance company that has been protecting North Carolina lawyers continuously since 1977. Our motto, “Here Today, Here Tomorrow,” is more than a tagline. It’s our commitment to the lawyers in this state.