LAWYER’S LIFE CYCLE—SENIOR PARTNER STAGE
50-60+ years old
|You are a recognized expert in your specialties.
Your team lieutenants are becoming generals.
Your client base supports 10+ other lawyers.
Goal is to complete the statement you’re making in life as a lawyer.
Burnout becomes a concern.
“Burnout is surrender. We have just so much strength in us. If we give and give and give, we have less and
|Learn how to:
• Make a meaningful practice contribution as your legacy
• Promote your lieutenants
• Identify the matters and times when mediation is more desirable than costly all-or-nothing litigation
• Recognize and deal with the signs of burnout
• Take some real vacations (Africa, ancestral homeland, Israel, sabbatical)
• Learn a new life skill (golf, guitar, spirit)
• Intuitively know when it’s time to stop practicing law
• Disengage with good feelings, a severance package, and a consulting agreement
TIPS FOR THE SENIOR PARTNER
1. Getting business is the name of this game.
2. As the size of your matters increases, so does the difficulty and complexity. You don’t have to do the work yourself, but you must be backed by a team that can do the work, or you’ll end up doing the hardest work yourself. Avoid sycophants: they won’t be able to stand up to the challenges that will arise in your practice.
3. Unless you can get the firm to make your lieutenants partners, you won’t be able to sustain the size of your practice.
4. Lawyers’ legacy is measured both by success (how well they did for themselves) and by significance (how well they did for others).
5. After age 55, most litigators are exhausted and most corporate lawyers lose focus on detail. Burnout is the issue here: you can’t talk about it with your family because they won’t understand it, or your colleagues because they might use it against you. Signs of burnout include losing cases, frequent headaches, heart problems, and cancer. If the signs begin to appear, start thinking about an exit strategy.
6. You are much more likely to disengage with a severance package, consulting contract, and good feelings if it was your idea in the first place.
7. As a lawyer, your best skill was probably solving problems, which is valuable in many other areas of life. A coach can be useful here to identify which of the problem solving skills you developed as a lawyer are most transferrable to other endeavors in business and life.
8. Do you keep working? If you “retire,” decompression from lawyering will take about two years. But after you’ve gone to Paris, played lots of golf, done all of the things that you didn’t have time to do before, and been to all of the children’s birthday parties, what do you do with the active mind that has been your greatest asset for the past forty plus years? Focus on alternatives that do not require an excessive investment of time, emotion, or money.