FUTURE-PROOFING - The bad news is that succession planning has gotten a lot more difficult during the pandemic. The good news is that law firms have never been very good at it anyway, so not much has changed. Still, there remains the small matter of what to do if you don’t want your firm to go the way of the buffalo after all the senior partners retire. As Law.com’s Jessie Yount reports, a desire to secure leadership for the future is driving a number of midsize firms to resume merger talks and strike deals that were largely put on hold over the past 18-plus months. The pandemic further exacerbated the need for the next generation of law firm leaders, as management confronts obstacles related to the virus itself and how to return to the office. But another consequence of COVID is that baby boomers aren’t the only ones leaving the profession, according to Kristin Stark, a law firm consultant at Fairfax Associates. “To complicate matters, the pandemic has reduced the partnership glue, which has previously held many partnerships together,” Stark told Yount. “It has also led more partners to disengage from the practice of law prematurely through early retirements or a shift to other types of work. This instability in the partnership composition has further contributed to a feeling by some smaller and midsize firms that they need to join forces with a larger firm in order to remain viable and avoid dissolution.”

PREPARING PROSPECTIVE PRACTITIONERS - In October, as Law.com’s Avalon Zoppo reported, data released by the National Association for Law Placement showed that first-generation law school students are worse off in the job market after graduating compared to their peers who have at least one parent or guardian with a law degree. Recognizing that all law students should have equal access to the information needed to succeed in law school and beyond, a number of law firms are increasing their outreach aspiring attorneys, especially at Historically Black Colleges and Universities, Law.com’s Dan Roe reports. But what should that outreach actually entail? Samendio Mathieu, a May 2021 graduate of the Florida A&M University College of Law who recently joined South Florida firm Rumberger, Kirk & Caldwell as associate, told Roe that firms looking to engage law students on campus can fill educational gaps left by the law school curriculum. “Coaching moot court, doing mock trials, sponsoring a law review, would create regular interactions with law students and build familiarity,” he said. “A lot of students don’t have familiarity with attorneys actually practicing law unless their parents, family members, and friends were lawyers. Considering FAMU is an HBCU that’s not the case for a lot of students.”