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Succession Planning and Heading to Retirement for Solo Lawyers

Did you ever have that moment when a teacher or a speaker pointed in your direction, and you turned around only to see no one behind you?

That's what it's like when you are a solo practitioner at the end of your career and you don't have a succession plan. It looks like there's no one to take over and it's all on you.

Of course, solo practitioners are the champions of doing things their way. Here a few more ways for solos to head towards retirement without dropping off the deep end of a career.

Sell Your Practice

If you know how to sell your practice, I have a bridge I'd like you to sell as well. Seriously, selling a solo practice takes skills most lawyers don't have. But Brian H. Cole, writing for the American Bar Association, has some clues.

"Although it may not be possible to sell every lawyer's practice, most practices have some value," he says. For example:

  • Recurring clients
  • Good will
  • An office location
  • A long-time phone number, advertising, software, etc.

There are limitations such as ethical issues outlined in the Rules of Professional Conduct Rule 1.17. Check your state for more.

Sell This, Do That

Whether you sell your practice or just move on, second careers can help you make the transition to retirement from the law. It's a good idea to try it before you buy it, however.

Taking a second job can help ease the change in the cash flow. It's also a great way to explore those interests you never had time for in your busy solo life.

And as you phase out of working completely, take the time to do the succession planning designed especially for solos. That would be estate planning.