Alabama
Alaska
Arizona
Arkansas
California
Colorado
Connecticut
D.C.
Delaware
Florida
Georgia
Hawaii
Idaho
Illinois
Indiana
Iowa
Kansas
Kentucky
Louisiana
Maine
Maryland
Mass.
Michigan
Minnesota
Mississippi
Missouri
Montana
Nebraska
Nevada
New Hampshire
New Jersey
New Mexico
New York
N.Carolina
N.Dakota
Ohio
Oklahoma
Oregon
Pennsylvania
Rhode Island
S.Carolina
S.Dakota
Tennessee
Texas
Utah
Vermont
Virginia
Washington
W.Virginia
Wisconsin
Wyoming
Law Firm Website Design Companies : The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly

When Law Firms Say It's Time to Retire

  Legal Business  -   POSTED: 2007/10/18 10:31

The American Bar Association doesn't want them. Most lawyers apparently don't like them. But many law firms have them. Retirement policies exist in several forms, but the 65-and-older crowd isn't looking to hang up its hat as early as it once was. Only 38 percent of lawyers agree with mandatory retirement policies, while 50 percent of firms have them, according to a recent survey of nationwide law firms by Altman Weil.

Aside from the 38 percent who agreed with mandatory retirement provisions, 46 percent disagreed and 16 percent were not sure.

At its annual meeting in August, the American Bar Association adopted a recommendation proposed by the New York State Bar Association that calls for firms to eliminate mandatory retirement policies and evaluate older partners on individual performance.

Opponents of the recommendation said firms shouldn't be told how to run their internal policies, particularly ones that are a matter of private contracts.

"The profession's position on this seems to be moving towards getting rid of those things," James D. Cotterman, an Altman Weil principal who handled the survey, said of mandatory retirement policies.

Aside from any question of legality, Cotterman said it makes good business sense to do away with retirement policies.

People are living longer, are healthier, have wisdom to share and have a "tremendous" prominence in the community, he said.

"There's really no downside to that," Cotterman said.

Firms should be planning for the next generation regardless of age, Cotterman said.

"If you have mandatory retirement, it's easy because you can say, 'Well, you've reached the age and you're out,'" he said.

It's the job of a managing partner or executive committee, however, to make the tough decisions, Cotterman said. That's what evaluations are for, he said.

According to the survey, the majority of respondents (61 percent) plan to continue working in some capacity after retirement. Of those who continue to work, 48 percent will continue to practice law and 35 percent will pursue another line of work. Seventy five percent will work part time, according to the survey.

If any of the respondents are Pennsylvania attorneys, their future career plans may depend on where they work.

At Stradley Ronon Stevens & Young, for example, partners are required to retire at age 65, 66 or 67, depending on their date of birth and how that coordinates with Social Security payments, managing partner Jeffrey A. Lutsky said.

On its face, the policy doesn't provide for retirement-age attorneys to simply leave the equity partnership tier; they must leave the firm.

Lutsky said that from time to time, partners ask for exceptions and they are granted on an individual basis. If extensions are granted, they are generally done on a one-year to two-year term. Extensions are based on the partner's current contributions to the firm, but not necessarily just his or her book of business, Lutsky said.

There have been occasions when the firm has transitioned partners into a senior counsel role when they plan on working part time, he said.

"This is an issue that's obviously being framed by demographics," Lutsky said.

Issues surrounding retirement, he said, aren't things the firm talks to partners about on their 65th birthday. That planning starts a couple of years out.

Despite the increasing talk about the morality and legality of firm retirement policies, Lutsky said he thinks the firm's policy works for the firm.

It allows Stradley Ronon to transition both client matters and leadership roles to a younger generation, he said.

"We're creating opportunities for younger people," he said.

That doesn't mean the firm has left it's older attorneys empty-handed. Stradley Ronon pays "significant" retirement benefits to its partners that are firm-funded, which is something many large firms no longer do, Lutsky said.

That pool is partially funded by the firm from year to year, and the rest is paid out of partner profits, he said.

Thorp Reed & Armstrong has what its managing partner Jeffery Conn calls a "flexible" policy. The firm requires that partners retire -- but not necessarily leave the practice -- at age 67.

Conn said partners can either request to stay on longer as an equity member or they can take another role as of counsel or senior counsel, for example. He said pretty close to all of those attorneys at retirement age stay on in another role.

Having a policy in place allows a firm to address the issue of retirement at a set, and known, time.

Mark Alderman said he wasn't quite sure he'd call his firm's policy mandatory. At Wolf Block Schorr & Solis-Cohen, the partnership agreement calls for attorneys at age 68 to transition out of the equity partner tier, he said.

"It does not require retirement or any particular alternative status," Alderman, Wolf Block's chairman, said.

Some attorneys retire before 68 and others continue in various capacities well into their 70s, he said.

There are also exceptions to nearly every rule. It is possible to waive the mandatory transition, Alderman said. Many partners have asked for the waiver and the firm has asked many partners if they were interested in the waiver, he said.

Eckert Seamans Cherin & Mellott Chief Executive Officer Timothy Ryan said up until about 15 years ago, his firm had a retirement policy.

"We jettisoned it with the belief that our members continue to be contributing past the age of 65," he said.

The firm's former system would take 10 percent of a member's equity away for a five-year period and then another 50 percent at age 70, which meant they were no longer a member, Ryan said.

"Sixty-five just seemed to be almost a random date selection," he said, calling the time frame an "unnecessary restraint."

The firm hasn't had any problems without a retirement policy and there hasn't been any talk of bringing one back, Ryan said. When Ryan, 48, transitioned into leadership, there were no problems with older members and the firm still has some of the same clients it did when it opened 50 years ago, he said.

Altman Weil's survey, conducted in September 2007, includes responses from 521 lawyers in management positions in U.S. law firms, including 28 percent from firms with 50 to 99 lawyers, 35 percent from firms with 100 to 249 lawyers, 17 percent from firms with 250 to 499 lawyers and 20 percent from firms with 500 or more lawyers.

The results show that lawyers in smaller law firms and women lawyers were less likely to support mandatory retirement.

In the firms where retirement was mandatory, 38 percent force retirement at age 65 and 36 percent say age 70. The smallest firms tend to use 70 as the retirement age, while most other firms look to 65.


Legal News | Breaking News | Terms & Conditions | Privacy | Law Firm Web Design, Attorney Website Design by Law Promo

ⓒ Breaking Legal News. All Rights Reserved.

The content contained on the web site has been prepared by BLN as a service to the internet community and is not intended to constitute legal advice or a substitute for consultation with a licensed legal professional in a particular case.
   More Legal News
   Legal Spotlight
   Exclusive Commentaries
   Attorney & Blog - Blog Watch
   Law Firm News  1  2  3  4  5  6 
   Lawyer & Law Firm Links
San Francisco Trademark Lawyer
San Francisco Copyright Lawyer
www.onulawfirm.com
New Rochelle Accidents Attorneys
New Rochelle Personal Injury
www.kboattorneys.com
Chicago Business Lawyer
Cook County Contract Law
www.rothlawgroup.com
Canton Criminal Lawyer
Canton DUI lawyer
www.cantoncriminalattorney.com
Surry County Criminal Defense Lawyers
Yadkin County Family Law Attorneys
www.dirussolaw.com
Oregon DUI Law Attorney
Eugene DUI Lawyer. Criminal Defense Law
www.mjmlawoffice.com
Houston Car Accident Attorneys
Wrongful Death Attorneys Houston
Houston Wrongful Death
New York Adoption Lawyers
New York Foster Care Lawyers
Adoption Pre-Certification
www.lawrsm.com
Santa Ana Workers' Compensation Lawyers
www.gentryashtonlaw.com
Indianapolis personal injury lawyer
Brain injury lawyer Indianapolis
www.rwp-law.com
Eugene Bankruptcy Attorney
Bankruptcy Attorney Eugene
willamettevalleybankruptcy.com
Lorain Elyria Divorce Lawyer
www.loraindivorceattorney.com
Denver, Colorado Drug Crimes Lawyer
www.vanlandinghamlaw.com
   More Legal News  1  2  3  4  5  6
   Legal News Links
  Click The Law
  Daily Bar News
  The Legal Voice
  The Legal Report
  Legal News Post
  Crisis Legal News
  Legal News Journal
  Law Firm Logos
  Attorney Web Design
  Immigration Law Web Design
  Law Firm Directory