Episode 113: Succession Planning Doesn’t Have to Be Scary—Here’s What You Need to Know with Roy S. Ginsburg, Attorney Coach and Law Firm Consultant

Episode 113

What you’ll learn in this episode:

  • How to determine what your succession planning goals are
  • Why it’s so difficult to sell a law firm, and which types of practices may sell more easily than others
  • When to start succession planning, and how long to expect a deal to take
  • How buying a firm can be a strategic career move for young lawyers
  • Why most lawyers need to challenge themselves to be better entrepreneurs and business developers

About Roy Ginsburg

Roy S. Ginsburg is an attorney coach and law firm consultant who has practiced law for more than 30 years. He works with individual lawyers and law firms nationwide in the areas of business development, practice management, career development, and strategic and succession planning.

Roy is also a prolific speaker and blogger. He travels around the country speaking at CLEs sponsored by bar associations on topics such as selling law practices, succession planning and more. He’s a regular contributor at attorneyatwork.com.

Additional Resources:



Succession planning is the most important topic law firm owners never want to talk about. But whether you want to sell your firm or pass it on to a top associate, deciding how you want to exit your career is better done sooner than later. As a legal coach, Roy Ginsburg helps attorneys prioritize their goals for succession planning and create a plan to achieve them. He joined the Law Firm Marketing Catalyst Podcast to talk about which types of practices may be more appealing to buyers; how to help associates transition to owners; and what age attorneys should start thinking about succession. Read the episode transcript here.


Sharon: Welcome to the Law Firm Marketing Catalyst Podcast. Today, we are talking with Roy S. Ginsburg. Roy is a lawyer and strategic advisor to lawyers and law firms. He puts his 35 years of experience to work helping lawyers be more satisfied in their careers. He has several areas of expertise, but today, he’ll be talking about an area we don’t hear a lot about, and that is the obstacles lawyers face when they start the process of estate planning. That could be selling their firm to a different entity or turning their firm over to the next generation. Roy, welcome to the program.

Roy:       Thank you very much for inviting me, Sharon. It’s a pleasure to be here.

Sharon: So glad to have you. You’re talking to us from Philadelphia?

Roy:       No. What I tell people is that I’m talking from a city that, until a few years ago, no one ever heard of, and that’s Minneapolis. They know about it now for all the wrong reasons, but, yeah, I’m talking to you from Minneapolis, Minnesota.

Sharon: Tell us about your career.

Roy:       I got to the Midwest initially through law school. I attended the University of Wisconsin for law school. For a year after that, I clerked for a justice on the Wisconsin Supreme Court, and then I moved to Minneapolis after that to work for a large law firm here. I worked for a large firm for a few years, then I worked for a smaller law firm for a few years. I spent about a dozen years as an in-house lawyer. In all those times, in private practice and in-house, most of it was in the employment law area. That was the first 20. The last 20, I’ve pretty much been the consultant I am today.

Sharon: How was it that you came to be a consultant and a strategic advisor?

Roy:       I wasn’t one of those lawyers who intensely disliked practicing law, though I’ve worked with plenty of those. I just thought it was O.K. and I was looking to do something different. In some ways, I surprised myself by having this entrepreneurial bug. The initial game plan was to be a CLE speaker primarily talking about business development and ethics. I figured lawyers would attend a CLE with ethics attached to it. They did, but it’s not so easy to get gigs if you want to do that on a national basis, which was the goal. I got them, but when you have three kids and hopefully all of them are attending college, it wasn’t enough.

Then I realized that coaching was becoming popular, at least in corporate America. I knew that from being in-house and working for a few companies. I figured if I can tell a hundred people how to build a marketing plan, I can do it one-on-one. That was initially how I got into coaching/consulting. Over time, people said, “Roy, can you help me with this? Can you help me with that?” The recession was here. Could I help people find jobs? Back in 2008, a lot of small firm owners would call me looking for help with practice management issues.

Most importantly for the purposes of this program today, I got lots of calls from senior lawyers, either solo or small firm owners, not knowing what to do. So, I saw business there. This was about 10, 15 years ago. I created my own website just for that particular business. Although I do all types of consulting and coaching today, I’d say about two-thirds of my time is helping solo and small firm owners with their succession planning, because they oftentimes just don’t know what to do.

Sharon: You must have been very busy during Covid with succession planning.

Roy:       Yes and no. Much like a lot of America, for the first two months, in April and May, my phone didn’t ring. Everyone was trying to figure out how to live. Then June was business as usual. I’ve read and seen anecdotally that the pandemic was a mixed bag as far as retirement planning. It definitely incentivized some people to call and figure out what to do. On the other hand, it delayed some people because they thought, “What am I going to retire for? I can’t visit the kids,” or they realized during lockdown that they needed to have a busier practice and it was premature to retire. At least for the people that are calling me, it’s been a wash. I haven’t seen a tsunami of phone calls, but I also haven’t seen it drop off the cliff. It’s business as usual, and pretty steady at that.

Sharon: I’m thinking about how many businesses and restaurants and all kinds of people decided to pack it in and said, “O.K., I’m going to try something different.”

Rboy:       Not so much. One of the things I pride myself on is I understand the DNA of lawyers. I’m a lawyer myself. They don’t like change. They don’t like to take a chance or a risk. I didn’t realize how unique I am by not only changing my life as a lawyer but being somewhat of an entrepreneur. I’ve learned from the coaching and consulting that’s not in the DNA of most lawyers, to think entrepreneurially. Like I said, they find themselves in the profession for no compelling reason, and they stay there because it’s a half-decent living. Some love it; some hate it; most are in between.

Sharon: Did you know you had this entrepreneurial gene before you started?

Roy: Not really. It surprised me as much as it surprised family and friends, I think.

Sharon: You say that practicing law was O.K., but it wasn’t because you had this craving, or you knew that wasn’t really what you were meant to do.

Roy:  Correct. I’m like most lawyers. There’s a joke in the Jewish community: nice Jewish boys who don’t like the sight of blood go to law school. My brother’s a doctor, so I’m the lawyer. Anecdotally, I can tell you I’ve coached or consulted with well over 200 lawyers over the last 20 years or so, and I always ask every one of them why they went to law school. You think you can guess the number one answer? There actually is no close second answer.

Sharon: What else? What else was there to do?

Roy: They couldn’t think of anything better to do. Very few lawyers have a compelling reason, and this is across the board, whether you went to a premier law school or one of the ones in the box. They just find themselves saying, “Eh, it’s a nice living, not too bad. I get a little prestige.” If you’re really entrepreneurial, you don’t go to law school; you go to business school or you start your own business. That’s one of the many reasons why I think most lawyers are horrific businesspeople in general. Most lack any sort of entrepreneurial DNA.

Sharon: Did it take a while for this gene, this DNA, the entrepreneurial bug, to come out in you?

Roy: I kind of enjoyed it. Needless to say, I’ve been doing it for 20 years at this point, but I think I have been good at it. Like most lawyers, I’m not terribly creative. But if I see something, I’ll act upon the trend. My consulting business is a perfect example. I had no big plan to help senior lawyers exit. I saw the demand and said, “Huh, I think there’s something here,” and then went with it. I’m good at spotting a trend and acting upon it, but big-picture-wise, I’m not so good. I wouldn’t have thought this would be a good way to make a living as a lawyer. It just turned out that way.

Sharon: Why do you think prioritizing is so difficult for lawyers?

Roy: Lawyers tend to be very reactive. When they call me, for some of them, it’s a big, big deal because they’re in denial, like a lot of people when it comes to what they do. Even though they realize they’ve got to do something, they haven’t taken a step back. Lawyers, again, are not very reflective. They’re not sure what they want to accomplish, so they try to make a lot of money on a deal, or they want to make sure their clients are going to be well-served, or they want to make sure staff is going to be maintained. I don’t want to say those are conflicting goals, but depending on the importance of a goal, they may do some things differently when they figure out what they want to do for succession planning.

Sharon: Why is it harder for a law firm to do a succession plan? What are the obstacles they face versus another business?

Roy:  Probably the biggest obstacle is it’s a very immature, underdeveloped marketplace, unlike a lot of other professional services such as CPAs and dentists, for example. That’s a mature marketplace. People have been buying and selling CPA firms for years. Same thing with dentists or any other professional service. Law, as you may or may not know, was ethically prohibited for a while, although lawyers got around that, at least the clever ones. It’s still on the up-and-up. A lot of people don’t realize that there’s even that possibility. A lot of people don’t call me for help because they don’t even realize they can do anything. It’s more out of ignorance.

Another fundamental difference between other professional services is each practice is pretty much unique. A million-dollar criminal defense law firm is completely different from a family law firm which is completely different from an immigration firm which is completely different from an estate planning firm. It may have similar revenues, but the only thing in common with those four practices is that they’re owned by a lawyer. They have a J.D. next to their name and they passed the bar, but it’s like comparing a grocery store to a gas station, and they happen to be owned by a lawyer. Even if you’re in a small town and there are 10 firms, oftentimes they don’t necessarily compete against each other. There may not be a natural buyer in the town or in the big locations.

A lot of younger lawyers don’t even realize they can buy a firm and that’s a strategic way to build a practice. Part of my job is educating younger lawyers about how one way to jumpstart their practice is to buy. They just don’t think like businesspeople. If you’re a small business lawyer, you do deals all the time, but they can’t connect that dot to themselves.

Sharon: Having a PR and marketing firm, I was told—I don’t think this is the case, but I was told from day one, “You’re not going to sell your firm. People don’t sell firms. They just can’t sell firms.” Are lawyers told the same thing?

Roy: Pretty much. They’re not necessarily specifically told by someone, but when they ask about it, they’ll find it out. In fact, the way most people find me—I’m in Minneapolis. My clients are nationwide; five to 10% are from Minnesota, which I think is very typical. Someone, a small firm owner who’s about 65, 70, 75, goes to their buddy or a colleague and says, “Hey, what are you doing about the firm now that you’re getting older?” and they say, “I’m not really sure.” They say, “Is there anything I can do?” “I don’t know.” So, they ask around town and realize there’s no one in town who can help them.

The good news for me is that 60- and 70-year-olds now know how to search the web. If you search “Can I sell my law firm?” or “How do I do this?” or “How do I do that?” I come up very high. Not that I want to pat myself on the back too much, but I don’t have much competition. So, it’s easy to come across me, and I say, “Hey, I can do something.” In other words, most people have no idea what can be done. All they do know is that sometimes they have internal people. I help those firms, but those who are solo or have no good candidates inside, like you said, they think there are no good options, but there are.

Sharon: You do come up very high because of your website and your blog. You come up very high when it comes to succession planning. Let me ask you this: when you say they don’t have internal people, do you mean they don’t have somebody ready to move into their position?

Roy:       Yeah. Small firm owners have one, two, three, four, sometimes as many as five or six associates or people who’ve been there for a long time, and they’re thinking they want to sell it to the internal people and theoretically preserve the legacy. What they often call me for help with is how to price it and structure it. Is it realistic to get the money over this amount time? I also give them an idea of how much to ask for, because they’re often clueless about what their firm may be worth.

 Sharon: When you say theoretically they want to preserve their legacy, do you think that’s important? Do these people think it’s important?

Roy:       Again, that goes back to your question a few minutes ago: what are they prioritizing? To some, that’s a big deal. Others don’t care at all. Most are somewhere in between about preserving their legacy.

Sharon: Do you find that most people have an unrealistic expectation as to what their firm is worth?

Roy:       Very much at times. Some firms aren’t worth much at all. Those are the ones who have goodwill, which is very personal. For example, if you’re a prominent criminal defense lawyer and you have a location in your city, your geographic area, your county, and you’re a solo, people call you because they want you; they don’t want anybody else. The best way I describe it to laypeople or even to lawyers about whether your practice has value, think about if it’s a Friday afternoon and you ride off into retirement sunset, and on Monday you sell the firm to me. If I answer the phone, will they work with me on Monday?

Going back to the prominent criminal defense lawyer, for example, no way in hell are they going to work with me. They’ll just go to the next name on their list. They wanted to work with the guy or the woman who sold the firm on Friday. Other practice areas, it’s going to be a different answer. They may work with me. So, I always tell lawyers the two-word answer about whether they’ll work with you on Monday is, “It depends.” My job as a consultant to my clients is to figure out what it depends upon. For some lawyers, they have nothing to sell.

The best example of a firm that has value, on paper at least, is estate planning. You know people are going to come back and revise the will. You know they are going to die and maybe need probate. It’s not so theoretical that the phone will ring. I think, given the nature of the relationship, a lot of people will assume the seller vetted the buyer. They’ll figure, “My former lawyer was pretty good at creating my estate plan, and I don’t know anybody I could call at this point without starting from scratch. So, yeah, I’ll work with them.” I’m sure you’re much like me. A lot of the people we’ve been working with, especially our doctors, they’ve all retired and we had to try someone new. Sometimes they sell the practice, and most people, especially with a dentist, they’re willing to try him once. The same thing with an accountant. It’s the same thing with a lawyer for certain areas. They’ll give him a shot. Others, there’s just no way they will give him a shot. It’s very, very dependent on the practice area.

Sharon: That’s interesting. I never thought of it that way. How do you turn it over if it’s dependent on the practice area? How do you turn a criminal defense firm over to a senior person so the name of the firm carries on, let’s say, as opposed to the person?

Roy:       It’s going to depend. There are some criminal defense firms that are very prominent with advertising and people have no expectation they’re going to hire the person on TV. Personal injury is a good example. Those have value. In other words, the people calling up have no expectation they’re going to work with the person on the billboard or on TV. You can preserve the legacy. There’s a brand and there’s value there. In that respect, it helps.

Let’s say you’re a small business attorney. Let’s say you have a dozen really good, consistent clients. You’re like a general counsel for half a dozen or a dozen smaller companies. There, it’s certainly possible to transition the relationship, but that’s going to take time and effort. You’ve got to make sure there’s company chemistry. That’s a deeper relationship. So, I tell people if you have 10 clients like that, it’s unrealistic to think all 10 are going to work with the successor. It’s also unrealistic to assume that no one’s going to work with the successor. It’s going to be somewhere in between. It’s going to be very dependent on how they hit it off, but certainly you get an advantage as a buyer to get that introduction. There’s no guarantee it’s going to work, but you’ve got to believe some of them will work.

That’s why it’s very difficult to predict how successful a transition is going to be. Again, it’s very dependent on the practice area. Going back to estate planning, without that deep relationship, the odds improve significantly that when they call the former clients, they will work with the successor, as opposed to a small business attorney.

Sharon: It seems like you need a longer timeline. What timeline do you recommend to think about this?

Roy:       I tell people that if all the stars are aligned, which they rarely are, nine to 12 months. If they’re not, 18 to 24. That’s just to make sure. It takes time to do a deal. The buyers want to do some due diligence. From the buyer’s perspective, it’s usually not the top thing on their radar to get done. They have client demands. It takes time, and sometimes when you get close to doing the deal, it falls apart. I’ve seen that happen. So, it gives you time for a do-over.

Oftentimes you don’t know how long these things are going to take. The age range for me is 60 to 80. I’d say at this point, I think 70 is the new 65, but I have many lawyers calling me in the mid- to upper-70s which in my view is probably—that gives you no time for do-overs at all. I can’t make this stuff up. I’ve had people sign five-year leases when they’re 77. I won’t tell them to their faces, but I’m thinking, “What were they thinking doing that?” A lot of people are, quite frankly, in denial. They think that just because they feel good at 75, they’re going to feel the same way at 80, and chances are you’re not. I’ve become somewhat of a pop psychologist for aging lawyers, talking them through the plans. Some intentionally delay. They put me off. They don’t return the phone call. Even when they pay me the money up front and I want to get moving, they’ll still delay.

Sharon: If I come to you with my firm and say, “I have an estate planning firm or whatever kind of firm; it’s a mixed bag of practice areas,” do you shop it around? What do you do?

Roy:       Good question. For some, yes. I think that’s one of the things that quite pleasantly surprised me. Being a consultant here in Minnesota, I figured helping seniors with an exit strategy would just be a nice way to enhance my consulting business. I know a lot of lawyers in Minnesota; I’m very familiar with the marketplace; all good. Needless to say, I update my website. I’m getting calls from all over the country. Over time, I realized I can help these people, and what I realized once I got into this was usually the best buyers are going to be internal people or friendly competitors. It’s not like selling a house, where you just put it on some law firm listing site and you know people are going to look. Even if people did look, it’s so dependent on the practice area. You can’t sell a family law practice to a criminal law attorney. They don’t know what the hell they’re doing.

Oftentimes, my clients are going to know the best buyers. So, I work with them trying to assess who of your friendly competitors do you think has the wherewithal. I see things they don’t see and vice versa. It works. There are some clients where there are no obvious friendly competitors. Then, yes, I do help them find those parties, but I’m going to level with you; it’s not often the case. Oftentimes, the only way to reach these people is directly contacting them, and most don’t realize that’s something to even consider. It’s not as easy to find buyers as one may think out there. The marketplace is maturing, but I can do it nationwide because typically the sellers themselves, if forced to think about it, can find people who may be interested.

Sharon: Let’s say I’m in Oregon or on the West Coast and I want a certain practice we don’t have in our firm. We had an estate planning practice a million years ago and it didn’t bring in any money, but we want to try it again. Do we come to you and say, “Find us an estate planning practice”?

Roy:       Yeah, but I’m going to tell you the same thing. You can probably do it yourself for a lot less money. I tell younger lawyers all the time when I’m doing business development coaching, one way to build your practice is to try and find some older lawyers in your area and ask them about their retirement plan. Sometimes they get them for nothing because the older lawyer has no idea there’s value there and they could actually sell them. There is no simple way for a younger lawyer or a law firm to do this.

You could hire a headhunter-type. I’m really not a headhunter in any way, shape or form, but when some of the bigger firms try to build a practice area, they will poach successful people from other law firms and ask if they’re interested in moving. Those aren’t necessarily a sales situation. Most of the law firms who do that want the business right now and need to beef up.

Sharon: Would you say business development is an important part of this? I’m thinking of an example where we were called in because the managing partner was a rainmaker. He wanted to retire in the next few years, and he wanted help in making the other people rainmakers or business developers.

Roy:       That’s a problem with a lot of smaller firms where you have one rainmaker, one leader—even some firms with as many as 20, 30, 40 lawyers, you have one or two rainmakers, and the others haven’t done that for a variety of different reasons. As I’m sure you know, for most lawyers, rainmaking doesn’t come naturally. A lot of lawyers just want to sit at their desks; they have no desire to get out there. A lot of those firms, quite frankly, are going to fold up, and the younger lawyers who have been in denial thinking the gravy train was going to continue, it won’t.

Sharon: It’s one of the things people look at when they’re assessing a firm. They look at the books, but I presume they also look at how many rainmakers there are, how many people are bringing in business.

Roy:       Yeah, for sure, but it really depends. One of the things I tell younger lawyers considering buying a firm and deciding whether it’s worth it is just look at it as another way of marketing. You can spend money on Google AdWords; you can spend money hiring consultants. There are a lot of different things you can do. One thing to do, though—and it’s going to cost money and time, but one way to least jumpstart the practice is to buy a practice.

Sharon: Would you say that one of the obstacles or one of the things that makes a law firm more difficult to sell or buy is that there’s no central place? I haven’t looked, but I’ve seen listings of CPA firms.

Roy:       Right, that’s one of the many reasons. I actually thought for a time that was something I could make money off of, but then I realized there are a handful of smaller websites that market other businesses and they’ll have a legal section. But I’ve had clients advertise it. Typically, the people who respond are young lawyers who have no money; they’re still in debt and they don’t necessarily have the expertise. I’ll go back to what I said very early in this program: it’s just not a sophisticated marketplace. That’s why it’s hard even if you’re looking to buy. Occasionally I have listings on my website, but I have no illusions that people are going there all the time, like “Let’s see what law firms Roy is listing this week.” Even if they’re interested, it’s got to be the right location; it’s got to be the right practice. There are so many ifs, it’s not that you can just say, “Oh, that’s something I can buy.”

I will also say, as you’re probably aware, that some states are experimenting with nonlawyers owning firms, specifically Utah and Arizona. Once all states get on board—and I think they will, but it’s going to be 10, 15 years—then you’ll see a very sophisticated marketplace. For example, Raymond James and Merrill Lynch and Fidelity, they’re going to buy up estate planning firms left and right. The estate planning lawyers won’t know what hit them. Certain practice areas are going to be very, very vulnerable to nonlawyers coming in. Bankruptcy is another example, a lot of paper-intensive types of things. Then you’ll see someone, at that point, making a lot of money by having listings because you’ll have buyers out there actually looking. But now you have to be a lawyer, and typically if you have that kind of DNA, you never became a businessperson to begin with, so you’re not looking to buy firms.

Sharon: Take us through the steps if I come to you and say, “It’s time for me to retire, but I have no idea what to do. What do I do?”

Roy:       I get asked that a lot, especially from younger lawyers. At least a few times a month, someone calls me up and they’re about 55 or 60. They’ve still got five, 10 years of practicing, which is realistic. They say, “Roy, I don’t want to screw things up. What do I need to do to prepare my law firm for sale?” I don’t know if you remember Obama. President Obama had a theory of diplomacy. His theory of diplomacy was don’t do stupid shit, as I’m sure you know. I’ll keep this PG rated. And that’s what I tell my clients. Don’t do something stupid. What’s something stupid? Signing a five-year lease at 77.

Until the marketplace becomes more mature, the time to make money is while you practice law, period. It’s not a good idea to build the practice for getting it ready for sale. Also, again, I pride myself on knowing the DNA. Everybody who calls me knows they should have a better process for this. They should invest more in this, but they’ve known that for the last 30 years. What makes them think that now, after 30 years, they’re going to do it and get it ready for sale? They’re not. They’re just going to go from crisis to crisis. So, I tell them, “Do whatever you’re doing to make as much money as you can now. The chances of doing that somehow detracting from the value is slim to none.” Given the immature place in the market, there’s nothing really to do other than to make sure you don’t mess things up that you’re presently doing.

Sharon: I feel like I’m opening a Pandora’s box. If I say I want to earn all I can while I’m practicing law, would I do anything different?

Roy:       No, in fact, you wouldn’t. You’d try to get the work out efficiently. You’d double down on doing business development. You’d try to leverage some people. Just do the basics. But as you know from your experience working with law firms, getting the basics down sometimes can be very problematic for law firms. Going back to the million-dollar criminal defense lawyer who built personal goodwill, I tell people like that they’ve got good news and bad news. The good news is you made a lot of money in your career. The bad news is you’ve got nothing to sell.

But again, even if you’re an estate planning lawyer, it’s the same: keep track of your clients and make sure a buyer would be able to contact all the people. Have a good process in place. A lot of lawyers come to me and say, “Roy, I figured out the best way to create this or create that. I’ve got the best process, so that in and of itself is going to provide value to my law firm,” and I tell them, “Yes, I know you have a great practice, but you know what? So does everybody else.” They think they have a great practice. It’s going to be tough to convince somebody that the way you do things is better than the way they do things.

Sharon: It sounds like what we hear over and over, that the hidden gem—

Roy:       No, there is no hidden gem. The hidden gem is usually the personality of the seller who has that unique rainmaking ability. As for getting the work out, occasionally you’ll have people that actually have figured out a way to provide the service better, but again, most lawyers won’t pay anything extra for it. What I tell people is if you have that sort of process, it may enhance the likelihood that it’ll sell faster and you’ll have more interest in the firm, but to quantity it is virtually impossible.

Sharon: So, what am I going to do? I have savings and I say, “O.K., I’ve been a big-deal criminal defense lawyer. I have millions of dollars in savings.”

Roy:       Well, one thing you can do is if you have internal people, you can start transitioning some responsibilities to them so it’s not going to be such a hiccup if and when they take over and you do a deal with them. There’s really nothing special or unique besides figuring out the timing, of course. I get people calling me now and they say, “Roy, I want to get it done by the end of the second quarter,” and I’ll say, “It’s not going to happen. I can still help you, but it’s not going to get done by then.” It takes time, so give yourself enough time.

One of the things I definitely need to mention is if you die prematurely, or even if you live a long life but there’s some sort of disability, you’re going to leave a mess. I have worked with the grieving widower or widow. It’s not pretty. It’s not pretty at all when they die. Even if they die at more of a normal age, let’s say 70s or 80s, but the lawyer was in denial, and especially if it’s a solo practice with a minimal staff, this poor spouse—because that’s ultimately who’s got to figure things out—they don’t know what to do. No one plans for that stuff. All lawyers here, they need to have a contingency plan in place if they get hit by the proverbial bus. Needless to say, it’s a hell of a lot more important to have it when you’re 65 or 70 than when you’re 35 or 45. You need it nevertheless, but of course the chances of it happening increase. It’s so important to have something in place. I can’t predict the future; it’s above my paygrade as far as when those things are going to happen, but you need to have something in place if you do get hit by the proverbial bus. As we get older that’s more likely to occur. Of course, few lawyers want to acknowledge that and do something about it.

 It’s going to be more and more of a crisis, I think, in a lot of states as the boomers retire, because we’re just seeing the start of the boomers. I’m 65 myself and I’m right in the middle of that. You have some of the senior ones dealing with it, but again, people aren’t retiring at 65 as much, especially as solo and small firm lawyers where they’re not booted out as easily in bigger firms. They tend to be booted out earlier than solo and small firm owners because they decide what to do. They don’t have any firm issues there.

Sharon: Do you work with firms that aren’t consumer? You’ve mentioned estate planning.

Roy:       I work with all types of firms. Occasionally I work with bigger firms where there’s one or two particular rainmakers. Again, they’re in denial about what to do. The other lawyers don’t want to step up to the plate. Those are the firms I was mentioning earlier that are going to be falling apart. Everyone’s going to scatter once that rainmaker and/or leader retires, and they do the best they can to transition. In the bigger firms, it’s hard to transition clients because they don’t invest in the leadership to give it to the younger lawyers. They still want to make as much money as possible. There’s only so much money to go around in the bigger firms when they compensate the partners they don’t want to let go. Sometimes they have only themselves to blame when that occurs.

Sharon: Not letting go, that’s probably a big problem you run into a lot. Whoever has the relationship doesn’t want to let it go.

Roy:       Exactly, they don’t want to let it go. Less money, less prestige. Even if you’re one of the younger lawyers who sees the accident occurring, it could be political suicide to raise it in a small firm. It’s fraught with a lot of issues. When it comes to the selling piece, most of my clients are solo and small firm owners with maybe half a dozen or a dozen lawyers, but on occasion, I’ll get called in to do more big picture succession planning for firms. That’s just transitioning clients, which, again, goes down to compensation and figuring out a way to keep the institutional clients in the firms. In some practice areas it’s easier to do, others not so easy, and a lot depends on the clients. There are so many different variables.

Sharon: You’ve given us a lot to think about when it comes to estate planning and succession planning. I think it’s just recently I’ve heard a lot about it, but thank you very much for it. I greatly appreciate it.

Roy:       My pleasure. Thank you.

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