For reasons that escape me, many people in the legal profession believe the practice of law is not amenable to working part-time. While this issue usually arises for new parents, part-time work is also a great option for senior solo and small law firm attorneys to consider before they completely exit the profession.
The Benefits of Working Part-Time
Working part-time is particularly ideal for those senior lawyers who still love practicing but have grown tired of the daily grind. It’s also ideal for those who have no clue what they’ll do once in retirement. Part-time work can also act as a bridge. For instance, some do it until they’re able to receive Social Security benefits. Others pursue part-time work when they want to enhance their overall nest egg.
If you’re a solo or small firm owner thinking about retiring, working part-time can be a significant and practical first step in that direction. And it’s easier than you think. Here’s how.
Be More Selective With Your Client-Base
When you have an incentive to take fewer clients, you’re free to now look for every red flag during the initial screening. If there’s anything that tells you, “I don’t want to work with this person or on this type of matter,” you can simply say no. There are plenty of other lawyers around to help that potential client.
Raise Your Fees
Raising fees works especially well for clients who have come to you via referrals. These clients are never as price-sensitive as lawyers think. Most are only concerned that your fees are in the ballpark of their expectations. Their objective is rarely to find the cheapest attorney in town.
I can already hear some of you saying to yourself, “But I’m going to lose some business if I do that.” That’s the point! And, trust me, your bottom line won’t suffer as much as you fear since the clients that do retain you will be paying more.
But Won’t Downsizing Affect a Possible Future Sale?
As a lawyer, you’ll appreciate this answer: It depends. But I wouldn’t lose any sleep over it.
Depending on your practice area and how much you downsize, the firm’s overall numbers may not suffer all that much if you are working part-time. Even if they do suffer, you’ll still likely come out ahead. That’s because the extra money you will have earned by working part-time will usually exceed any loss in the firm’s value when selling.
Is It Time to Consider Moving to a Part-Time Practice?
The time may be ripe to consider a slowdown as opposed to a complete stop. It’s an exit strategy that can work quite well.
More Advice on Retirement and Succession Planning
- “Is This the Time to Plan Your Retirement?” by Ida O. Abbott
- “Planning for Life After Law During a Pandemic” by Camille Stell
- “Five Ways a Sabbatical Can Help You Assess Retirement” by Camille Stell
- “Tips for Successful Succession Plan” by Camille Stell
- “Book Review: Use Design Thinking to Plan Your Retirement” by Camille Stell
- “Prepare Yourself for a Happy Retirement” by Ida Abbott
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