With the baby boomers coming of (retirement) age, law firms need to seriously start planning for the future. Not only in terms of firm management, but legal marketing as well. Even though lawyer marketing has been openly discussed and actually implemented in some firms for more than twenty years, business development is still primarily accomplished with relatively few rainmakers … and they’re often baby boomers.
As mentioned the concerns are more than just marketing issues. Since I am a believer that everything a law firm does relates to marketing, management factors relating to succession planning are relevant here as well, and worth mentioning. Ellen Freedman, law practice management coordinator with the Pennsylvania Bar Association has an article in this month’s issue of Law Practice Today that spells out a number of things that need to be met as firms prepare to say goodbye to their baby boomers, Ellen topics include:
- Leadership & Strategic Planning (not only to run the firm, but with vision for its future, which will need marketing talents to execute both internally and externally),
- Revenue Generation (requiring willing and talented rainmakers),
- Transition & Servicing Clients (client retention and relationship enhancing capabilities are the main business development skills needed here),
- Retirement Funding (with rainmakers leaving, you will need to replace them not only to sustain the firm, but to fund the boomers’ retirements),
- File Retention (here she is talking about physically dealing with client files that need to be retained and only destroyed with clients’ consent. The marketing implications relate to a request for files you cannot locate, creating an unhappy client),
- Staffing (valuable staff are not only hard to replace, but likely have developed excellent relationships with certain clients which also have marketing implications), and
- Solo and Small Firms (it’s easier for larger firms to absorb the loss of important rainmakers; and in the case of solos, according to Ellen, they will need to associate with a larger firm, or find a willing buyer for their practice to ease their transition).
If you have baby boomers closing in on retirement, you might want to read Ellen’s article in its entirety.