Lawyers are typically not a reflective lot. We rarely spend time taking a step back to ask, “What am I trying to accomplish here?” Instead, most lawyers just “shoot and then ask questions.” This dynamic is present at the time of retirement when determining an exit strategy. And even when the timing of the exit is carefully thought out, the goals are often not.
Sample Questions to Help You Identify Your Exit Strategy Goals
Here’s a list of the “usual suspect” questions that most exit strategies answer, listed in no particular order of importance:
- When do you want to begin to slow down?
- When you begin to slow down, what don’t you want to be doing that you’re doing now?
- How gradual do you want your slow down to be?
- How long do you want your slow down to last?
- When do you want to be completely done practicing law or having anything to do with what was once your law firm?
- How important is it that your successor has a similar philosophy of practicing law?
- How important is it that your clients continue to receive the same quality of service that you have provided over the years?
- How important is it that your staff has jobs after a transition?
- How important is it that your transition yields the most amount of money reasonably possible?
Knowing Is Only Half the Battle
You should know the answers to these questions. But the key isn’t simply knowing what you want to accomplish, it’s also about prioritizing your objectives. The world isn’t perfect. It’s unlikely that you’ll be able to achieve everything you want in your exit. But if you know what’s most important, your chances of a satisfactory exit improve significantly.
A Note About Building Flexibility Into Your Exit Strategy
Consider how flexible you’re willing to be once you’ve made up your mind about your goals. For instance, what happens if as you begin to slow down, you realize that having more time on your hands is not such a bad thing after all? Would you be willing to accelerate some of your target dates?
Also, don’t be surprised if your initial goals need some tweaking once you start executing your exit plan. The best exit strategy plans have built-in flexibility.
Begin With the End in Mind
Stephen Covey famously said, “begin with the end in mind.” That was true when you began your career as an attorney. It’s also true when you end it. If you’re unclear about how to get started or how to prioritize, I welcome you to reach out to me for help. You can call me at 612-524-5837 or you can contact me online.