Friday, December 14, 2007

Law Firms Confront Aging Workorce in Their Own Profession

Elizabeth Goldberg writes in American Lawyser that as baby boomers hit their 60s, U.S. law firms are trying to keep the most experienced and talented ones from walking out the door. She tells older lawyers that are healthy and productive and eager to keep working, that law firms want them and are willing to help out with work/life balance, setting one's own schedule, and getting flexibility. She cites one study showing that boomers now constitute 70% of law firm partners. "Boomers will not only challenge traditional notions of when partners retire, but also how they do so."
Already, retirement age is a hot topic in law firms, especially as mandatory retirement policies have increasingly come under attack. In January the New York State Bar Association issued a report opposing mandatory retirement on the grounds that it is archaic and unfair. In August the American Bar Association adopted the New York Bar report and recommended that all firms end forced retirement. And in October, Sidley Austin settled a long-standing age discrimination case with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission that included a promise to revoke the firm's mandatory retirement policy.
According to an American Lawyer survey of the top 200 firms, in 69% of them, 20-39% of the equity partners are age 50 or older, and at 23% of firms, more than 40% of the partnership is 50 or older. Furthermore, 64% of the firmsd have a mandatory retirement age, ranging mostly from 65 to 70.

Source: American Lawyer "Law Firms Face Gray Area as Boomers Age" (December 10, 2007)

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