generation gap

Statistics show that vast majority of managing partners in law firms in America are older (and usually male) members of the baby boomer generation, born between 1946 and 1955. Many lawyers from this demographic are hanging onto their practices well past the traditional age of retirement, and this phenomenon is leading to an age imbalance that could put the futures of many major firms at risk.

In an article in the New York Times in November, 2015, Elizabeth Olson explored the ramifications of this generational gap. She quotes the predictions of informed observers who believe that, among other downsides, the growing chasm could lead to the splintering of many established firms when senior partners finally do retire.

Olson points out that research conducted by Altman Weil in 2015, the results of which were published in Law Firms in Transition, showed that only 31 percent of the biggest firms had a formal succession plan.

Some firms have now begun to adopt strategies aimed at retaining promising associates. Olson talked to a representative from Bryan Cave, a 950-lawyer firm that has started a “business academy” to give associates more say in firm planning. She reports that other firms are taking more entrepreneurial approaches.

How has your company begun to address the generational divide to ensure that younger lawyers not only join and stay with your firm, but are allowed the room to grow? Let me know your thoughts on this – or any other – matter, either in the comments below or directly via email.