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How to Plan for Law Firm Succession and Transition

Noel Peel

Written by

Noel Peel


September 20, 2018


The departure of a valuable associate, partner or administrative staff is inevitable but too many law firms fail to prepare. Failure to plan for succession and transition as associates, partners and other employees retire or move to new job opportunities can create a lot of disruption and productivity loss. Let’s explore how to plan for law firm succession and transition to make it easier when the times comes.

Create a Talent Pipeline

Every law firm should behave as if every single position in their firm will be vacant at some point. Always stay recruiting and networking with new talent that would be a good fit for your law firm. Keep nurturing these connections even when all your associates, partners, and administrative staff are happy and have no plans for leaving.

Attend relevant events every quarter. Make it a habit to send your H.R. person to job fairs and other employment events once every quarter. They will make great connections and can use these events to build your law firm’s reputation amongst high-quality talent.

Maintain a job board presence. Create a profile on the most relevant job boards and websites. Where do law firms post job openings? It depends. The most obvious place is on sites that target attorneys, paralegals, legal secretaries and other legal professionals but there are less obvious options too. For example, having a profile on Glassdoor will help raise your profile amongst job candidates and existing employees.

Work with a recruiter. Establish a working relationship with a good legal recruiter. Experienced recruiters have deep talent pools that can help them deliver qualified candidates to your inbox in a matter of days instead of weeks.

Maintain relationships with former employees. Former employees are a great resource for finding new talent. And since they have firsthand knowledge of your law firm, they can offer potential new hires the insider view of what to expect.

Creating a good pipeline of qualified candidates will help you fill open positions faster.

Build A Strong Brand

Law firms that have strong employer brands have no problem attracting top-quality job candidates. A strong employer brand will do the following:

  • Let job candidates know what growth opportunities you offer.
  • Provide clear information about compensation packages.
  • Provide honest former employee feedback about what it’s like to work there.

If you want to develop a strong employer brand one of the first things you should do is get former employees to leave public online employer reviews. Hearing these testimonials on a third-party site will help convince candidates that you’re an employer worth considering.

Train Future Leaders

If you want to seamlessly transition skilled associates into partner positions, it’s necessary to begin instilling in potential partners the leadership skills required for the position. As you’re onboarding your first-year associates, keep an eye out for ambitious and talented lawyers who want to take the partner track.  Begin offering them leadership training that will help them develop the foundational skills every partner needs.

When planning for succession and transition, be sure to create a system that makes the departure of associates, partners, and administrative staff easier for your law firm to process.

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