I was recently reading the business section of my local newspaper and came across an article on the importance of having a will. The focus of the article was on how to prevent people from delaying getting the task accomplished. The writer asked several financial planners for the best strategies they use to help their clients complete this task.
I frequently get on my soapbox to encourage senior solo and small law firm owners to create a succession plan. This message, at times, falls upon deaf ears. The thought then occurred to me that perhaps I could frame the importance of a succession plan in a similar manner that financial planners do for the importance of a will. The exercise was fruitful.
The article I read had four distinct headings to help me with my task. Here’s how those headings apply to succession planning.
Think seriously about who you are planning for:
A law firm succession plan is for all of these people.
You’ll be leaving a mess! For who? See above.
Succession planning is not as complicated and time-consuming as you fear. Yes, I know you’d rather practice law, but planning for the future is no more complex than many of the administrative tasks you’ve been doing for years as a law firm owner. (And, hey, there are always people like me who can help you.)
If you don’t set a deadline, it’s not like there’s some deep dark secret about who will set it for you. Wouldn’t you rather control the timing?
No one can practice law forever. Plan for the time when you can no longer practice. End your career on a high note.