Did you know you might be sitting on an asset that’s worth more than you ever imagined? It’s your law practice. You’ve spent years building your practice. You’ve invested time, effort and money in it. Don’t let your investment go to waste.
By planning now, you can:
- Set your own retirement timeline
- Reap financial benefit from your investment in your law firm
- Protect your professional legacy, and
- Provide continuing care for your clients.
Join us on April 8-9, 2019 at the Raleigh Marriott Crabtree as Lawyers Mutual Consulting and Services President, Camille Stell and Tom Lenfestey, owner of the Law Practice Exchange, host a one-of-a kind workshop on succession planning. We had a chance to interview the event hosts to find out everything you need to know about the upcoming program.
LM: Tom, you have spent years working with lawyers and helping them successfully transition out of practice. What have you found to be the most common challenges of succession planning for lawyers?
Tom Lenfestey: First, is most definitely a lack of knowledge as to the options, the process and the opportunities that putting a succession plan in place allows.
Many other professionals such as dentists, CPAs and doctors have had clear transition paths and the tools to get them there. Not so in law. But today, there are more options than ever before, and this workshop is the toolkit a solo or small firm lawyer needs.
There are numerous roadblocks attorneys face:
- They aren't ready to stop practicing law
- They don't think they can transition or sell their practice
- They aren’t sure their practice has value
- They have already started slowing down and their practice is losing value, and
- They consider planning for retirement as a 'down the road’ option.
Transition planning is all about putting plans in place now in order to take control of your professional timeline and making the value-based transfer to a successor work.
Another challenge is accountability. Sometimes our biggest service can be in explaining that transitioning your law firm through internal succession or external sale is a defined process and then making sure the attorneys or law firms involved continue to make progress and actually implement the plan. Lawyers are busy and outside demands quickly sidetrack even the best intentions. Having a process for lawyer transition and being there to provide accountability is key to overcoming obstacles.
LM: Camille, we constantly hear how the mention of transitioning out of practice is like nails on a chalkboard for most lawyers. How will this program help lawyers begin to think differently about succession planning?
Camille Stell: My hope is that lawyers will begin to see this as planning for “life after law” in a positive way. Planning enables them to leave a legacy, a multi-generational law firm and to take care of their clients during transition and after they have fully retired.
LM: What sets this program apart from other succession planning programs?
Tom Lenfestey: This is not your typical CLE program. Our goal was to build something different.
Immediately after the lawyer registers for our program, we start gathering information. We develop their law firm's valuation and succession criteria and we can provide their analysis the day of the event. In the workshop, through expert-led facilitated training, they can apply to what they are learning to their firm and leave the next day with their unique plan to implement.
Camille Stell: In addition to receiving a valuation of their law firm and a succession plan that is unique to their law firm, they will also receive coaching in how to determine their timeline and how to have transition conversations with family, their law firm and their clients. And finally, we will spend time discussing what life after law looks like for them. Follow up consultations are included in the registration fee.
LM: Who is encouraged to register for this event?
Tom Lenfestey: Lawyers who own their own law practice and don't have a transition or 'what-if' plan in place. The plan can anticipate the unexpected or just provide peace of mind when the lawyer wants to consider slowing down.
Creating a succession plan doesn't mean you are done or have to be done practicing law in the near future. Instead, this program offers a plan where you are in control of your professional timeline. It is never too early to start building out your plan for when that time comes.
LM: What would you say is the first step for attorneys in beginning to mentally and emotionally prepare themselves for succession?
Camille Stell: Imagine what they would do away from the office. For some lawyers, it might be to take a week of vacation with no plans to see what it feels like to be away from the office with unstructured time. For others, it might be to schedule a sabbatical and explore an extended time away from work. Working part-time or developing a wind-down schedule is also a great way to transition out of a full-time law practice.
LM: When should lawyers begin thinking about succession planning?
Tom Lenfestey: Now! By far the biggest issue we have is attorneys contacting us with short timelines. Transition takes time. In order to achieve your goals and what may work for your firm and successor, the more lead time the better. Once we start the process, the owner-attorney is put in control of the timeline and how he or she wants things to work. If they wait, life and business have a way of quickly getting in the way and creating situations which give you less control or choice. Starting now allows the attorney to control their firm's legacy and their professional timeline.
This program guides attendees through the entire succession planning process. The success in this program lies in the joint work between facilitators and attendees to develop a personal succession plan.
At the end, participants will have a clear understanding of the succession process and how to implement their developed transition plan.
Get more information and register here.