In the best interests of valued clients and contacts, retiring lawyers need to create a transition/succession plan and implement it starting approximately three to five years before their planned retirement date.
- Start from the “bottom” up, i.e. download all the retiring lawyer’s clients and contacts, and rank the most important clients and referral sources.
- Armed with the list above, a firm leader and a firm staff member (who should be assigned responsibility for regularly following-up with the retiring lawyer), meet with the lawyer to discuss the client/contact list, and if not already done, rank the most important. Or, the retiring lawyer can and should do this themselves.
- Review the most important clients/contacts, discuss “bench” (i.e. who the retiring lawyer has in mind to “take over” the relationship).
- Discuss and determine next steps, i.e. is there an important referral sources who does not know anyone else at the firm? Should an introductory meeting be set-up, etc.
- Make sure the above is in writing, along with names, next steps, and follow-up dates. The firm staff member, leader, or retiring lawyer should schedule weekly, monthly, and/or quarterly check-in meetings to ensure a smooth and effective transition.