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Groups to offer August seminars on attorney retirement

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There’s an old joke in the legal profession that attorneys never retire.

So the Indiana State Bar Association and Indiana Judges and Lawyers Assistance Program have partnered to present three conferences in late August about retirement preparation: “What’s Next … Planning for the Retirement that YOU Want.”

Maryann Williams, director of section services for the ISBA, recalled the retirement party of an attorney she attended when she was still practicing law. She remembered that no one seemed to know how to plan the retirement party because no one remembered going to one before.

While that’s not to say all attorneys should retire at a certain age or should keep working forever, Terry Harrell, JLAP executive director, said she has noticed an increase in calls concerning retirement.

More often than not, those calls were from colleagues who thought their fellow attorneys should retire before disciplinary actions were filed or worse.

In some cases in which an older attorney is having trouble handling his or her workload, it isn’t necessarily because of issues related to age but could be a reaction from medications or depression that can possibly be addressed through treatment, she said.

But more often than not, she said, the attorney doesn’t have treatment options if he or she is past what other professions consider a normal retirement age of mid-60s to early 70s, she said.

Terry Harrell mug Harrell

So Harrell spoke with Williams and the ISBA to determine if there was a way to offer help to attorneys in their 40s, 50s, and early 60s, while they still had ample time to plan for retirement. She considered a program in Oregon to be a model for the Indiana program.

At first, she and Williams talked about doing a session at the Solo and Small Firm Conference but quickly realized it was important enough to be its own event.

In late August, those plans will come to fruition with three scheduled all-day seminars that will take place in Evansville, Indianapolis, and a yet to be decided location in Lake County, making it accessible to many attorneys around the state. Depending on how these sessions go, Williams said more might be planned in other locations in the future. The sessions will also be modified based on the evaluation forms and what participants will ask future conferences to include.

Williams said the conferences were planned with help from the General Practice Solo and Small Firm, Senior Lawyers, Business Law, Litigation, and Probate Trust & Real Property sections.

Final details, as well as the registration forms, will be available on the ISBA’s website, www.inbar.org, in mid-June.

Williams said she has already received calls from attorneys who’d like to be added to the list of interested participants. She said each venue can hold up to 50 participants, and admission will be $100 for ISBA members, and $150 for non-members. She suggested interested attorneys sign up soon after the registration information is posted.

Included in the price of the seminar is a copy of the book, “Lawyers at Midlife: Laying the Groundwork for the Road Ahead.”

One of the book’s authors, Pat Funk, will speak at the seminars. Funk is an independent financial educator who isn’t trying to sell a specific product but helps educate individuals about how best to plan for smooth financial transitions for retirement.

Financial planning isn’t the only goal of the conference.

Harrell said she’d heard from attorneys “who did everything they needed to in terms of financial planning and retired at an appropriate age, and they got depressed because they did almost nothing but practice law. At the end of their career, they didn’t have hobbies or a social life. Lawyers don’t do well after they energetically practiced law however many hours a week and then have nothing to do.”

The conference will address this issue, including why it’s important to have something to do, whether that’s golf, fishing, dancing, gardening, or another hobby that if they’re already doing it before they retire, they’ll be able to do it more after they retire.

For some people, she said a retirement plan might include doing some legal work – maybe a few hours a week – even if they’re no longer practicing full time. Or if attorneys want to retire completely, there’s no need for them to continue practicing law if they don’t want.

The sessions will also address how attorneys can successfully close their practices or hand over their client files to other attorneys when they retire.

A best practices guide to the surrogate attorney rule, which has recently been revised and was officially made available at the Solo and Small Firm Conference, will also be discussed at the retirement seminars.

There are other tips when it comes to attorneys and retirement planning, depending on the attorney’s preference.

For instance, Harrell recalled a seminar dealing with retirement issues she did a few years ago.

“A lawyer in the room said he would ask three or four of his best friends to promise to tell him when it’s time to retire. He said, ‘If one said it, I might not listen to him, but if three or four told me, then I probably would take it seriously.’”

For more information, visit inbar.org, or contact Maryann Williams at (800) 266-2581 or mwilliams@inbar.org.•

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  1. So that none are misinformed by my posting wihtout a non de plume here, please allow me to state that I am NOT an Indiana licensed attorney, although I am an Indiana resident approved to practice law and represent clients in Indiana's fed court of Nth Dist and before the 7th circuit. I remain licensed in KS, since 1996, no discipline. This must be clarified since the IN court records will reveal that I did sit for and pass the Indiana bar last February. Yet be not confused by the fact that I was so allowed to be tested .... I am not, to be clear in the service of my duty to be absolutely candid about this, I AM NOT a member of the Indiana bar, and might never be so licensed given my unrepented from errors of thought documented in this opinion, at fn2, which likely supports Mr Smith's initial post in this thread: http://caselaw.findlaw.com/us-7th-circuit/1592921.html

  2. When I served the State of Kansas as Deputy AG over Consumer Protection & Antitrust for four years, supervising 20 special agents and assistant attorneys general (back before the IBLE denied me the right to practice law in Indiana for not having the right stuff and pretty much crushed my legal career) we had a saying around the office: Resist the lure of the ring!!! It was a take off on Tolkiem, the idea that absolute power (I signed investigative subpoenas as a judge would in many other contexts, no need to show probable cause)could corrupt absolutely. We feared that we would overreach constitutional limits if not reminded, over and over, to be mindful to not do so. Our approach in so challenging one another was Madisonian, as the following quotes from the Father of our Constitution reveal: The essence of Government is power; and power, lodged as it must be in human hands, will ever be liable to abuse. We are right to take alarm at the first experiment upon our liberties. I believe there are more instances of the abridgement of freedom of the people by gradual and silent encroachments by those in power than by violent and sudden usurpations. Liberty may be endangered by the abuse of liberty, but also by the abuse of power. All men having power ought to be mistrusted. -- James Madison, Federalist Papers and other sources: http://www.constitution.org/jm/jm_quotes.htm RESIST THE LURE OF THE RING ALL YE WITH POLITICAL OR JUDICIAL POWER!

  3. My dear Mr Smith, I respect your opinions and much enjoy your posts here. We do differ on our view of the benefits and viability of the American Experiment in Ordered Liberty. While I do agree that it could be better, and that your points in criticism are well taken, Utopia does indeed mean nowhere. I think Madison, Jefferson, Adams and company got it about as good as it gets in a fallen post-Enlightenment social order. That said, a constitution only protects the citizens if it is followed. We currently have a bevy of public officials and judicial agents who believe that their subjectivism, their personal ideology, their elitist fears and concerns and cause celebs trump the constitutions of our forefathers. This is most troubling. More to follow in the next post on that subject.

  4. Yep I am not Bryan Brown. Bryan you appear to be a bigger believer in the Constitution than I am. Were I still a big believer then I might be using my real name like you. Personally, I am no longer a fan of secularism. I favor the confessional state. In religious mattes, it seems to me that social diversity is chaos and conflict, while uniformity is order and peace.... secularism has been imposed by America on other nations now by force and that has not exactly worked out very well.... I think the American historical experiment with disestablishmentarianism is withering on the vine before our eyes..... Since I do not know if that is OK for an officially licensed lawyer to say, I keep the nom de plume.

  5. I am compelled to announce that I am not posting under any Smith monikers here. That said, the post below does have a certain ring to it that sounds familiar to me: http://www.catholicnewworld.com/cnwonline/2014/0907/cardinal.aspx

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