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  • Article: The Most Feared Word... by Ed Poll

    The Most Feared Word...

    by Ed Poll

    As I was writing my new book, Life After Law: What Will You Do with the Next 6,000 Days?, it struck me that, so far as many lawyers are concerned, "retirement" is the most feared word in the English language. As one law firm partner explained it to me, retiring meant going from a "who's who" to "who's he?" For many lawyers their career is a large part of their identity. But once you stop practicing law you're no longer a lawyer, so what are you?

    Actually, you can still be a "who's who" in retirement. By that I don't mean that the world still knows who you are but rather that you can get a better sense of who you are. Whether it's being on a non-profit board, working in the garden, or in my case, riding a bike, retirement opens a host of new options. Where do you want to go and what do you want to do? If we don't know the answers to these questions, we're going to be afraid to make the change from where we are.

    Making a retirement plan is difficult, because the emphasis is on personal satisfaction, self-worth and well-being. All successful people are focused and passionate about what they do. If they want to pursue different interests, it is not that they wish to have a life of leisure - it reflects a greater desire to pursue their passion. When developing a retirement plan, decide what you want to do with your life once you leave practice - quit working completely, do community service, start a new career, or some other path. Leaving your current practice by retiring is an emotional process, and a successful transition will require all the traits that defined your success as a lawyer: motivation, acceptance of risk, resiliency and commitment. Each person's approach will be unique, and can change over time, so don't feel you've burned bridges to your past life.

    Remember too that the income stream for many lawyers comes from their law practice. Options to retire on that income stream include selling, closing or merging the practice, but none of these is likely to provide the same income stream the lawyer is accustomed to receiving. In too many cases lawyers have not adequately thought this calculation through. If you have not, start doing so now - your ability to be a "who's who" at what you want to do depends on it.

    Originally published on LawBiz.com on July 30, 2013. Reprinted with Permission

    About The Author

    Ed Poll principal of LawBiz Management Company, is a nationally recognized coach, law firm management consultant, and author who has coached and consulted with lawyers and law firms in strategic planning, profitability analysis, and practice development. Mr. Poll has practiced law on all sides of the table for 25 years-- as a corporate general counsel, government prosecutor, sole practitioner, partner, and law firm chief operating officer and been a consultant to small and large law firms for 20 years.

    The opinions expressed in this article do not necessarily reflect the opinion of ILW.COM.
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