Making a Smooth Transition to Retirement

After spending several decades in the legal profession, I’m finally ready to retire. I plan to leave my legal job within the next year. How can I prepare myself — and my employer — for my pending departure?

Congratulations on your upcoming retirement. Here’s some legal career advice to help you make a smooth transition from full-time employment to full-time retirement, along with some thoughts on how to get your manager and your team ready for your final day.

  • Give plenty of notice. If you’re in a senior- or manager-level position, let your boss know about your retirement plans from three to six months in advance. The extended amount of time will allow your company to find your replacement before you leave. Once you’ve set a last day, arrange to notify your team at once, if possible – perhaps at a staff meeting.
  • Help with the transition. If your replacement starts at the company during your final months in your legal job – or if the company plans to fill your position by promoting someone from within – get involved with that person’s training and orientation. Teach them about the firm’s history, and introduce them to key clients and your professional network. Help them make career goals and provide them with good legal career advice. That way, you can help make the transition as seamless as possible.
  • Make the shift gradually. Retirement doesn’t have to mean going cold turkey on your legal job. In fact, it’s better for you and your firm if you slowly reduce your hours over an extended period, perhaps a few months. A gradual transition like this allows your coworkers to get used to your absence before your departure and can help you adjust to the upcoming life change. Work with your manager and colleagues to find a schedule that makes sense for everyone.

One last bit of legal career advice: Just because you’re retired doesn’t mean you have to stop working. You can volunteer pro bono services for a favorite cause or shift to project-based consulting on issues you care about. You can also share your legal knowledge with the upcoming generation, through formal teaching or informal mentoring. Retirement doesn’t look the same to everyone, so make yours your own.