This week The Lawyer published A lost generation: Why firms are failing their older lawyers – a survey of the UK’s largest firms on their approach to partner retirement. The survey is pay-walled but well worth reading – although we should declare an interest, as we were interviewed for this survey, and are quoted in it.
A key finding is that
Firms are missing out on the benefits of smoothing the path to retirement for their partners. But partners could also help themselves by being better prepared.
The survey is a welcome contribution to the debate about whether and the extent to which firms should support their senior partners. Sadly, there are no surprises. The experiences of those individuals they interviewed – a lack of open conversations about retirement, the failure of firms effectively to handle senior partners and their careers, and the fact that many lawyers are in denial about the inevitability of departure – all resonate with us. This, after all, is what we have been told by individuals and what we have discerned when talking with firms.
There is undoubtedly progress. The Lawyer notes, “Our survey suggests that some firms are treating partner retirement seriously . . .” and, as we are quoted in the survey, “attitudes in the big firms are changing.” Nonetheless, The Lawyer continues, “many firms have simply been failing to fully recognize retirement as an issue.”
What we have found is that where firms are prepared to put in place appropriate structures to support individuals to shape their own future, the necessary conversations follow much more easily.
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