Hiring For Succession

Kathy Fortin

January 30, 2017

Hiring can be a gamble, no matter the field or the position. For small law firm founders, hiring a lawyer is no different. Giving consideration for a successor is more challenging. The key is to recognize the differences between hiring another lawyer and hiring with succession in mind.

 In our consulting experience, most small or mid-sized law firms often have a history of hiring several associates. (Many experience losing them, also.) As a practice grows and becomes busier, the founder reaches a point when the decision is made to hire a lawyer. The objective is simple- hire a worker-bee to pick up the workload. Fast forward ten years, and that same founder, perhaps reaching age sixty or older, realizes he (or she) would like a successor to take over the firm, but the current associate is not the right candidate. This is a common occurrence we see when asked to assist with creating a plan for succession. It serves to illustrate there is a vast difference between a lawyer who desires a 9 to 5 job and one who has the entrepreneurial spirit, ambition and other unique qualities to run the firm. Recognize that there is a huge difference and seek the right candidate. Look for someone who may not be able to fill your shoes exactly, but the right person who can carry the firm forward.