In the 4/23/17 edition of Crain’s Cleveland Business, Peter Brosse weighs in on planning for the future of the law firm. In “Graying legal field brings need for succession planning” (Jeremy Nobile), Peter discusses the preparations Meyers Roman has undertaken to ensure a smooth and efficient transition for the younger generation of attorneys.
Prepared for the future
Peter Brosse, a partner at Cleveland midsize law firm Meyers, Roman, Friedberg & Lewis, said he brought up the issues of succession planning recently largely because of the age factor. Having a clear plan in place isn’t just helpful for lawyers, but the entire administration. The review and planning process for them formally began in October 2015 and was wrapped up in February.
Excerpt from Article:
After a comprehensive review, the firm has a better sense of where it wants to add bench strength moving forward, and it has an administrator who handles a variety of duties, from human resources to employee benefits, working with her outgoing counterpart. The firm also set a goal to review leadership development possibilities in the near future.
The planning process involved settling hard-to-discuss questions on everything from compensation to who will take on clients following a lawyer’s death or retirement.
If someone dies, for instance, their family is paid a certain percent of their clients’ revenue — assuming the client stays — for three years (which comes in addition to an insurance-funded death benefit).
“This way, there’s less of a financial burden on the firm,” Brosse said.
Relieving stress over questions about things like compensation was important to maintaining a good culture, he added.
“Tension is the other reason we did that,” Brosse said. “Younger attorneys look at all this and wonder, how does this affect me? They don’t want to be sitting there paying for and working for a retired or deceased partner. Because we have something tied to dollars collected from clients, you don’t have that — it’s 15% in our case — and there’s a scale on retirement. At the end of the day, we were able to show there wouldn’t be a financial strain on the firm.”
Brosse was motivated to start the conversation because he wants to see the business flourish.
“I see this as a firm that I and others helped grow, and I want it to be sustainable,” he said. “We’re all asking these same things: What happens here if something happens to you or someone else? Well, those are good questions. But no one asked them until now.”
Not having those plans in place could be devastating to a midsize firm like Brosse’s.
Besides now having a clear transition plan for clients and businesses as partners leave, Brosse said the firm is feeling a renewed sense of confidence in the future.
“The younger attorneys now know there’s a plan in place. They see there’s development of leadership that’s been put in place and we’ve started steps to implement those,” Brosse said. “From a sustainability perspective, I definitely think people are feeling more comfortable. It shows we’re in good shape today, and I think it will make us even more competitive in the marketplace.”