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,, 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, or contact Maryann Williams at (800) 266-2581 or•


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  1. We do not have 10% of our population (which would mean about 32 million) incarcerated. It's closer to 2%.

  2. If a class action suit or other manner of retribution is possible, count me in. I have email and voicemail from the man. He colluded with opposing counsel, I am certain. My case was damaged so severely it nearly lost me everything and I am still paying dearly.

  3. There's probably a lot of blame that can be cast around for Indiana Tech's abysmal bar passage rate this last February. The folks who decided that Indiana, a state with roughly 16,000 to 18,000 attorneys, needs a fifth law school need to question the motives that drove their support of this project. Others, who have been "strong supporters" of the law school, should likewise ask themselves why they believe this institution should be supported. Is it because it fills some real need in the state? Or is it, instead, nothing more than a resume builder for those who teach there part-time? And others who make excuses for the students' poor performance, especially those who offer nothing more than conspiracy theories to back up their claims--who are they helping? What evidence do they have to support their posturing? Ultimately, though, like most everything in life, whether one succeeds or fails is entirely within one's own hands. At least one student from Indiana Tech proved this when he/she took and passed the February bar. A second Indiana Tech student proved this when they took the bar in another state and passed. As for the remaining 9 who took the bar and didn't pass (apparently, one of the students successfully appealed his/her original score), it's now up to them (and nobody else) to ensure that they pass on their second attempt. These folks should feel no shame; many currently successful practicing attorneys failed the bar exam on their first try. These same attorneys picked themselves up, dusted themselves off, and got back to the rigorous study needed to ensure they would pass on their second go 'round. This is what the Indiana Tech students who didn't pass the first time need to do. Of course, none of this answers such questions as whether Indiana Tech should be accredited by the ABA, whether the school should keep its doors open, or, most importantly, whether it should have even opened its doors in the first place. Those who promoted the idea of a fifth law school in Indiana need to do a lot of soul-searching regarding their decisions. These same people should never be allowed, again, to have a say about the future of legal education in this state or anywhere else. Indiana already has four law schools. That's probably one more than it really needs. But it's more than enough.

  4. This man Steve Hubbard goes on any online post or forum he can find and tries to push his company. He said court reporters would be obsolete a few years ago, yet here we are. How does he have time to search out every single post about court reporters and even spy in private court reporting forums if his company is so successful???? Dude, get a life. And back to what this post was about, I agree that some national firms cause a huge problem.

  5. rensselaer imdiana is doing same thing to children from the judge to attorney and dfs staff they need to be investigated as well