The Dollars and Sense of Successful Succession Planning

Published 03/01/2010

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Call it a sign of the times—a new proposal before the California State Bar Board of Governors that would require lawyers to have an “estate plan for the law practice” providing for succession in the event of a lawyer’s death or disability. Leaving aside the merits of the proposal, it is yet another indication that the law is an aging profession. Karen Mathis, when president of the American Bar Association several years ago, often emphasized that 400,000 lawyers of the baby boom generation and older would likely retire in the next 10 years, a number equivalent to the entire membership of the ABA.

The law, of course, is not the only business sector so affected. Estimates are that more than 7 million baby boomer business owners will retire during the forthcoming 10 to 15 years. And studies by MassMutual, Marquette University, PricewaterhouseCoopers and others show that 75 percent of these business owners have no idea how to financially plan for and handle this transition. This figure surely also applies to lawyers in solo or small firm practices, who typically are not known for financial foresightedness.

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