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Book Review: Designing a Succession Plan for Your Law Practice

By Ida O. Abbott

If you own a law firm, “Designing a Succession Plan for Your Law Practice” is essential reading.

Most lawyers don’t want to think about, much less go through, succession planning. But at some point in your career, it will become apparent that out of desire or necessity, the time is approaching for you to leave or retire and you will have to figure out what to do with your practice. The sooner you begin to plan for it, the easier and more effective the succession process can be. But even if you are ready and eager to get started, you are likely to face a conundrum: How do you do it? “Designing a Succession Plan for Your Law Practice” gives you the guidance you need.

Steps That Lead to Greater Satisfaction and Success

Written by Tom Lenfestey and Camille Stell, “Designing a Succession Plan for Your Law Practice” explains what you need to know and do to prepare yourself and your firm for your eventual departure. The authors are experts with a wealth of knowledge and experience advising lawyers in these areas. They understand (and offer examples to illustrate) the factors that lead lawyers to resist and avoid succession planning, as well as the problems that come up when lawyers wait too long to begin planning. But, using an ongoing case study, they also show how taking the right steps, with adequate planning, can lead to greater satisfaction, peace of mind — and profitability.

One special strength of this book is its detailed advice on how to evaluate and sell or transfer a law practice. Lenfestey and Stell appreciate that most lawyers don’t know how to assess or enhance the value of their practice in anticipation of selling it. They assert that your practice is more valuable than you think it is and then explain how to quantify and increase that value so that when you are ready to transfer or sell it, you will maximize your return. They describe the enhancements you will need (technologies, marketing) and provide checklists, exercises and worksheets. Plus, they include an extensive appendix that takes you through the financial calculations.

Once you have made your practice more valuable and marketable, they follow up with a detailed chapter on how to sell or transfer it, including the role and usefulness of a law practice broker. They include guidance about when and how to announce your intent to your colleagues, clients and others, and walk you through the steps involved up through the sale or transfer. They even provide sample scripts for introducing conversations with your spouse, partners, associates and clients about your succession plans.

Reading this book is like having a conversation with friends who understand what you’re facing and genuinely want to help you find the best outcome for your practice so that you can leave with financial and emotional security. By giving you so many tools, and such a clear road map, the authors have eliminated any excuse you might have to avoid getting started.

Related Reading …

“Lawyer Retirement: Planning for Life After Law During a Pandemic” by Camille Stell

“Prepare Yourself for a Happy Retirement” by Ida Abbott

“Saving for Retirement While Running Your Practice” by Ryan McPherson

“5 Tips for a Successful Succession Plan” by Camille Stell

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Ida Abbott Ida O. Abbott

Ida O. Abbott is a leader in the field of talent management. She has enjoyed a four-decade career as a lawyer and consultant and now applies her talents to help firms improve retirement processes and to serve senior professionals as a retirement mentor and coach. The Wall Street Journal named her book “Retirement by Design” one of the best books of 2020 on retirement and aging. She is a Fellow of both the American Bar Foundation and the College of Law Practice Management. She is the author of numerous seminal books, including “The Lawyer’s Guide to Mentoring, 2nd Edition” and “Sponsoring Women: What Men Need to Know,”  and is a popular speaker. Learn more at

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