You are in charge of your firm right now, but one day, you will retire. Who will take your place and transition into your role? How can you ensure that their transition will be a smooth one? A successful transition of leadership requires a successful succession plan, the process by which you can identify and develop the new leaders of your firm who will take over when you move on.
However, succession planning is not a one-off event. You should treat it as a critical process in your firm’s business development, planning five years in advance of when you plan to retire. This way, you will be able to enjoy the retirement years that you rightfully deserve, all while maximizing the value and credit you receive for the firm you built. By treating succession planning as a long-term process, you will be able to assure that you institutionalize both your firm and your legacy. You will further establish your firm’s brand that, with proper planning, will last through generations of successors in the firm.
Succession Planning is Accomplished in Steps
Successful succession planning requires research, marketing strategy and business development. Being a part of a succession plan means that you can have a hand in institutionalizing your firm’s name and legacy, all while making sure that the person who takes your place shares your firm’s values and best interests at heart. With that said, there are a few critical steps that are necessary to consider while you’re developing your succession plan:
First, do some research. You need to learn more about your business, internal culture, target markets, goals and expectations. Your objectives should be to study items like your desired marketplace position, strengths and weaknesses, key messages, threats and opportunities, current and desired client profiles, implementation of strategic communications, image and messaging, as well as a demographic analysis of your attorneys themselves.
Your firm research needs to include an evaluation of each of your attorneys and their individual contributions to the firm and the firm’s values. A realistic valuation of your firm can help to better support your transfer of ownership plans for the future. Additionally, your research should consider a client transition plan for who will take over the firm’s most important clients when you move on. This research will provide a detailed situation analysis of your firm, which will allow you to move forward with a solid succession plan and maximize your marketing dollars.
Second, build your brand. Your brand is your most important asset which will create value for you and your firm long after you have retired. You can do this successfully by conducting a thorough Brand Analysis, which will show you what clients, prospects and recruits see and think when they encounter your various brand touch points.
In addition to a Brand Analysis, you should obtain a complete professional audit of your website and aim to build the very best website possible. For businesses, websites are one of the most important communications tools of the 21 st century. Websites provide a foundation for a firm with a big vision – a firm like yours!
Third, begin business development coaching. You should aim to coach your firm’s future leaders, including your associates. This will be the best way to show your attorneys and recruits that you
genuinely care about their growth.
Finally, handle the firm structure. Once you’ve completed steps one through three, you will be in a better place to determine partner roles, structures and responsibilities, while also developing leadership and management responsibilities. This will ensure that your firm is left in a good place once you do retire. You should also determine compensation and retirement plans, as well as transition clients that remain well-represented within your firm. It is important that you support growth for the generations of lawyers to come.