Change may be inevitable but that doesn’t mean it is welcome. Far from it. Everyone has to leave their law firm but staying put may often seem more comfortable, for all sorts of reasons.

One section of Smith & Williamson’s 22nd Annual Law Firm Survey Embracing change in a new era for law firms (there’s that C word again) looks at the impact of the recent introduction of restrictions on pension contributions, noting that

93% of firms do not have a programme in place to support partners in financing their retirement, and virtually all firms continue to leave it to the individual partners to get retirement advice which, for the most part, they pay for themselves.

One consequence identified by the authors of the Survey, is that

later retirements due to lack of financial security may have significant implications for the firm, not least the difficulty of bringing on and rewarding younger talent and dealing with the differing expectations of multiple generations in the workplace.

To address this, they suggest

firms may benefit from putting a clearer and more formal strategy in place to plan for partner retirements. Otherwise, firms could find that they have higher numbers of older partners working for longer, leaving them unable to offer the career progression and rewards sought by the next generation.

Our experience, working with both partners and their firms, is that it is just as much about the meaning as the money. Financial security is undoubtedly important, but it is only one in a number of factors that determine the attitude of partners to transition.

Smith & Williamson is spot on in advocating that firms should have a clear and formal strategy for partner retirement. But it has to be one that addresses both the practical issues, such as financial security, and the more philosophical.

And it is no good just having the strategy. How firms implement it is critical, if the retirement process is to become less fraught and painful than it is now.

If you agree with us, and you want to know where to start, then just send us an email or call us.