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After William D. Bailey Jr. joined his law firm in 1960, he came to favor a mandatory retirement policy as a way to keep fresh blood pumping through the Wilmington, Del., office. Four decades later, he was on the other side of that policy. “I wasn’t ready to retire, but I voted for it, along with a lot of other attorneys,” said Bailey, 71. Retiring from the 20-lawyer The Bayard Firm in November 2005, he took his eminent domain practice a year later to a small Wilmington law firm, where he now works “mostly full-time” with the other seven attorneys. “I didn’t want to stop,” said Bailey, of counsel to Biggs and Battaglia. Bailey’s move illustrates the career transition that hundreds of thousands of lawyers will be making in the next few years as baby boomers become senior citizens. And with more than half of the large firms in the nation operating under some type of mandatory retirement system, the exodus will be profound. About 1 million lawyers are licensed in the United States, according to the American Bar Association. Extrapolating from the current total of attorneys, a full quarter of attorneys � or 250,000 � are expected to start retiring by 2011. The question is: What will all these people do with themselves? The ABA hopes they will work pro bono. The huge numbers of attorneys moving out of the profession have prompted it to launch its Second Season of Service, a program spearheaded by ABA President Karen Mathis. It urges retirees to use their experience to serve the underrepresented and helps facilitate the representation. “We don’t just want to brush up on our golf game,” said Mathis, in an e-mail message. “Most lawyers will want to keep on serving.” According to the ABA, some 17 states and the District of Columbia have rules that allow out-of-state lawyers to provide pro bono services. Others are considering similar arrangements. In a profession that is famous for its Type-A personalities and compulsive workaholics, lawyers generally do not move smoothly into a life of playing mahjong and taking trips to see the grandkids. “The No. 1 driver for what attracts lawyers to their profession is mental stimulation,” said Larry Richard, a psychologist and consultant on law firm leadership and organization with Hildebrandt International. The move from full-time work to retirement or even part-time work is a shock for most people and is more acute for white-collar professionals, Richard said. He added that the typical lawyer � “in general,” he stressed � is not a social creature. That lack of social skills can lead to isolation, which, in turn, can cause physical and mental health problems. “Whether they want it or not, they have a social connection at the law firm,” he said. “That goes away when they retire.” Frank Federman, 73, retired from Federman & Phelan in Philadelphia about two years ago. After his departure from the firm, which he founded in 1961, its leaders changed the name to Phelan Hallinan & Schmieg. Federman, who practiced forfeiture law, was designated as “of counsel” when he retired, a decision that was “mostly prompted by the firm,” he said. “You get used to it,” he said, adding that he and his wife stay busy. “We get 20 pieces of mail a day. That takes time.” Caring for an elderly aunt and his mother-in-law also requires much of his attention, he said. About half of law firms have some form of mandatory retirement policy, according to a recent survey by the American Bar Association of 2,000 law firm leaders. Retirement programs vary widely and often are enforced inconsistently. Firms may give concessions to retirement-age lawyers who are still big rainmakers and push out others who are less profitable. They also may try a soft-sell approach to aging lawyers initially, and then get tougher if they refuse to move on. For the time being, law firms are expecting a decision from the U.S. district court in Chicago in a lawsuit filed by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission against Sidley Austin over whether the firm’s retirement policy violated age discrimination laws. When Frank Musselman, 81, retired from Milbank, Tweed, Hadley & McCloy, not much changed with his arrangement, he said. His compensation stayed the same, even though technically he became a retired partner. Musselman, who made partner at the New York-based firm in 1960, was a former managing partner. Today, he goes to Milbank’s offices about two days each month, he said, where he shares work space with other attorneys who need an office on a limited basis. He uses those accommodations to stay in touch with clients. “I don’t do their work, but I make sure it gets done,” Musselman said. A delicate balance Facilitating retired attorneys’ ties with their firms while simultaneously empowering new leaders to run the firm is a delicate balance, said Richard, the consultant. More seasoned lawyers may have valuable institutional knowledge, but a new regime needs to feel free to take the firm in the direction it deems suitable, he said. The compromise, at least at many bigger firms, is to allow retirees to stay on as counsel, senior counsel, senior partner or some other title but with diminished equity status. Former Holland & Hart partner Ed Flitton, who retired from the Denver-based firm in December, is modifying his practice to fit with his new of-counsel status. Flitton was managing partner of the firm from 2000 to 2006. He is in the office about two days each week and is launching a mediation practice. Holland & Hart requires partners to retire at age 64, but Flitton decided to make the move at 60. What he feared most was losing the social connection with the other attorneys. By regularly going to his office, he has maintained many of those relationships so far, he said. In all, he said retirement agrees with him. “When you turn 60, you say, ‘OK, I’ve got about 20 good years left. How many of those do I want to spend practicing law?’ It just doesn’t make sense to spend that time in a stressful environment,” he said. He added that since he retired four months ago, he has lost 20 pounds and reduced his blood pressure by 10 points. It took Catherine Richardson “about a nanosecond” to get adjusted to her retirement from the Syracuse, N.Y., office of Bond, Schoenick & King. The former president of the New York State Bar Association and the first woman partner at her firm was ready to slow down when she turned 62. Bond Schoenick requires partners to retire at that age. Like many other retirees, she has an office at the firm, but she spends most of her time working on the boards of a few nonprofit foundations. She is not in favor of mandatory retirement in general, but she is delighted with her new lifestyle. “It’s really nice to be able to sit with a cup of coffee in the morning,” she said.

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