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02/12/22-The stories behind the legal sector news

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The golden years – smoothing partners’ journeys into retirement/unretirement and the benefits this brings

Our society has changed in so many ways in recent decades as to render it unrecognisable to previous generations. Just one of the infinite number of changes is the impact of our increased longevity. The fact that we now live so much longer has fundamentally altered the way that we think about retirement: whereas a previous generation of law firm partners might have planned to coach, become non-executive directors or play golf at the end of their career, today’s partners do not wish to spend what might well be many decades of their lives essentially twiddling their thumbs.

Though they no longer desire all the pressures and commitments that their current position entails, partners do still want to feel valued and to put all their skills to good use in some form of work activity – ‘unretirement’, in other words. But how should they go about it, and what form might their unretirement take? And what are the benefits to law firms in helping partners to find the answers to these questions?

This is where firms like Next-Up come into play. Founded by CEO Victoria Tomlinson in 1990, Next-Up works with corporates to offer a range of services for directors, partners and employees to help them understand the impact of retirement on mental health and create a plan to use their skills and experience in new ways to ensure wellbeing.

Law firms such as Addleshaw Goddard are benefitting from Next-Up’s Your Future programme, which includes a panel of people who have unretired to share how they each worked out what they wanted to do. The programme also helps participants understand the emotional impact of retirement, and helps with new skills.

My former colleague Mary Peterson, Head of Responsible Business at Addleshaw Goddard, can clearly see the benefits of this: “We want all leavers to leave on the best possible terms – so investing in people who are in the latter stages of their career is never a wasted investment. We want them to be advocates for the firm[…].” Her sentiments are echoed by Liz Gray, Director, Partner Relations at EY: “[Partners are] rainmakers, they can offer advice, identify talent, refer services, make connections, help with pitches, market our people. In helping them with their transition from the firm, we are demonstrating what this generation and the profession can offer back to society. We’re also opening the door for next-generation leaders.”

And this is a crucial point: by helping partners to see the next stage of their professional journey in a positive light, the experience of their retirement or unretirement does indeed become a positive one: for them, their teams, and the firm at large. It makes partners more productive in their last years, avoids awkward conversations and poor morale, and opens new opportunities to younger professionals, who can in turn benefit from the mentorship of the outgoing partners. And very few partners actually fully retire, with many of them mentoring start-ups and tech entrepreneurs, angel investing, taking charity trustee roles and even starting their own businesses. These can all provide opportunities for their old firm – if they left on good terms. It’s a win-win situation for everyone.

Next-Up’s founder and CEO Victoria Tomlinson has been kind enough to write a guest blog on this topic for us, which you can find here. It includes specific advice on how firms can help partners, and further outlines the economic benefits of sensitively guiding partners into unretirement.

Do you know what your unretirement might look like? Please feel free to share your ideas with us in the comments section below.

Consolidation is happening – just maybe not where we expected

As always, this year’s The Lawyer UK200 annual ranking makes for interesting reading – especially the dedicated report on the lower half of the UK 200, which The Lawyer dubs ‘the Independents’. Although the ranking shows just how fragmented this part of the UK legal market is, it also reveals the somewhat astonishing rate at which the small, independent firms are being picked off by the market’s heavy-hitters.

Thus two of the three jointly bottom-ranked firms have already been gobbled up by larger firms – Goodman Derrick has been acquired by South-West firm Royds Withy King to form RWK Goodman, while Coffin Mew has been bagged by the law firm hoover Knights.

In the face of tough economic conditions, the number of small independents seeking the shelter of larger, more diversified firms is only likely to increase. We’d be willing to bet money on next year’s ranking revealing a very altered landscape in this segment of the market

Cooley lays off 100 employees as Twitter ripples hit legal market

The Silicon Valley-based law firm Cooley has fired 100 lawyers and other staff in the wake of a precipitous slowdown in its tech practice — and mere weeks after Elon Musk’s Twitter dropped the company.

In a press statement, the Palo Alto-headquartered firm said that it had been forced to cut staff following an “unexpected economic downturn”, and claimed the move would help it align “with current and anticipated demand” from its clients, which include Meta (the owner of Facebook), Apple, Netflix and venture capital groups.

Here at TBD, we can’t help wondering whether Cooley might come to bitterly regret this move, and should maybe have stuck things out for a bit longer – after all, the firm had assembled one of the best sets of tech lawyers in the world, and now stands to lose many of them to competitors. The tech world may be experiencing a temporary setback, but the sector as a whole isn’t going anywhere and has repeatedly demonstrated its astonishing powers of reinvention and innovation.

Let’s see what happens next. (Also, did the marketing team foresee this?)

Post of the week – a great use of Christmas-movie references

We want to commend Jon Gregson, a partner and employment lawyer at Weightmans, for his brilliant LinkedIn post this week. In it, Jon raises awareness of Weightmans’ holiday pay service for irregular or zero-hours workers through the medium of Christmas-movie references – it’s the perfect combination of funny and effective. To quote Masterchef’s Greg Wallace, who also seems to be a ubiquitous presence on the telly in the runup to Christmas: “wahay, brilliant!”

More than anything, Jon has achieved the seemingly impossible: incontravertably demonstrating that Die Hard is a Christmas movie!

News in brief

The UK gets closed out of the EU public registers – a return to the ‘era of corporate secrecy’

Deripaska trial delayed as his lawyers fear he won’t be able to cover their fees

The law firm that was due to represent the Russian tycoon Oleg Deripaska – who stands accused of contempt of court – at the High Court has questioned whether his legal fees might exceed the £500,000 limit imposed by government sanctions:

Raab confirms real-world pay cut for criminal defence solicitors in what the Law Society calls “a fatal blow to the criminal legal aid sector”

The sorry saga of the chronic underfunding of our once-proud criminal justice system continues:

The beginning of the end of crypto anonymity?

A London court has ordered cryptocurrency exchanges including Binance, Coinbase, Kraken and Luno to hand over customer details to a rival operator to help it track $10.7mn in stolen funds.

Planning for the future

“In any profession that’s highly regulated, you get that dread of ‘Oh no, what do I have to do now?’ when you get the email from compliance.” How do you manage your wealth when you’re a higher earning professional? 

Dates for your diary

  • 5 December –  Law Society seminar – Lawyers with Disabilities Division virtual networking event: To mark Disability History Month and International Day of Persons with Disabilities. Everyone is invited to a virtual Lawyers with Disabilities Division (LDD) networking event.
  • 7 December – Judicial appointments interview training for solicitors – A Law Society webinar to equip delegates with the skills to help enhance their application and interview performance. This training course has been developed specifically for solicitor applicants.
  • 9 December – 16th International Conference on Family Law – This event aims to bring together leading academic scientists, researchers and research scholars to exchange and share their experiences and research results on all aspects of Family Law. It also provides a premier interdisciplinary platform for researchers, practitioners and educators to present and discuss the most recent innovations, trends, and concerns as well as practical challenges encountered and solutions adopted in the fields of Family Law. The conference will be held virtually.

I hope you ‘ve enjoyed this edition. Have a great weekend when you get there!


Si Marshall

Legal marketing expert – I love lawyers, their stories and how they help clients | Marketing | PR | Digital Marketing | Business

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