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Best Practice: Law Firm Retirement - Planning Retirement

Asked and Answered

By John W. Olmstead, MBA, Ph.D, CMC

Q. I am a partner in a six-attorney firm in downtown Chicago. I am sixty four and starting to think about retirement and would appreciate your thoughts on how where to start.

A. Begin to visualize getting older, your mortality, and retirement. Think about the amount of time that you have left on this earth. If you are sixty-five you may live to be eighty. Thus, you have fifteen years left and this is your planning horizon.

Retirement planning is deciding on how to use this time. It is about the process of deciding what you will do in your retirement and putting a plan into practice. As the amount of time left to you decreases, its value increases to the point where it will be more valuable than monetary assets.  It will be more valuable that a new house, a new car, a new boat, or a chest full of cash. Time enjoying life, being with your family, and spiritual renewal will become more important than earning money. The greatest change when you retire is how you will use your time.

Retirement planning begins with taking the time to think about how you will use you time. If you live fifteen years beyond your retirement your will have 28,800 hours that will have to be filled with retirement activities. (five days a week, eight hours a day, 48 weeks, for fifteen years)  Start by creating an interest activity list, a time plan, and then DECIDE, PLAN, and ACT.

You options include:

  1. Continue working in your present situation;
  2. Continue to work for compensation but in another occupation; or
  3. Retire and pursue recreational and other retirement activities without compensation.

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John W. Olmstead, MBA, Ph.D, CMC, ( is a past chair and member of the ISBA Standing Committee on Law Office Management and Economics and author of The Lawyers Guide to Succession Planning published by the ABA. For more information on law office management please direct questions to the ISBA listserver, which John and other committee members review, or view archived copies of The Bottom Line Newsletters. Contact John at

Posted on November 9, 2016 by Morgan Yingst
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Member Comments (1)

The Senior Lawyers' Section Council did a recent CLE presentation on October 19th at the CRO, and I recommend that you follow up with the ISBA about obtaining the video of this program, because I think it might answer some of your questions.
Gary T. Rafool