Interview With Catherine Sanders Reach:
Tips On Retirement Planning For Lawyers

In February, when MyCase exhibited at the New Orleans Solo and Small Firm conference, I presented to attendees on iPad apps for lawyers. After my talk, I interviewed Catherine Sanders Reach, the Director of Law Practice Management and Technology for the Chicago Bar Association and former Director at the American Bar Association’s Legal Technology Resource Center.

Catherine shared her wealth of knowledge on succession planning for lawyers and explained that as Baby Boomer lawyers age and look toward retirement, they are increasingly asking her more questions about preparing their law firms for the future. She gave lots of useful tips on implementing a succession plan, emphasized the importance of making technology choices that will stand the test of time, and recommended creating easy-to-use workflow processes that can be shared and handed down to other lawyers in the firm.

You can watch the full interview or read the transcript below and for more succession planning tips and more, make sure  to read this blog post which includes lots of great advice from law practice management expert Ed Poll.


Niki Black:
Hi. This is Niki Black. I’m here in New Orleans at the Louisiana State Bar Solo and Small Firm Conference with Catherine Sanders Reach. She is the Director of Law Practice Management and Technology with the Chicago Bar. Welcome.

Catherine Sanders Reach: Thanks Niki and thanks for having me.

Niki Black: My pleasure. What I wanted to talk to you about today was retirement and succession planning. I’m wondering, how often do lawyers approach you about this topic?

Catherine Sanders Reach: You know, as the boomers are getting ready to retire, I’m getting a lot of questions and a little bit of stress about the attorneys who are looking for ‘how can I shutdown my practice?’ and a lot of them seem to be wanting to bring on associates, get them trained up and then kind of give their practice over to them, which I think is fantastic, but they’re a little trepadacious for a really funny reason. They say they’re not using technology and they feel bringing in a young attorney is someone who’s going to be looking for technology.

Niki Black: So, what tips do you give them to help them sort of bridge that gap?

Catherine Sanders Reach: So, for one thing, I tell them use the technology that makes sense for your practice. You don’t have to add every single bell and whistle. The thing that I think is most important when they’re looking at bringing someone in is something that helps them capture their workflow so that the new associate can see how does this practice area work, how do you bring in a matter, how do you close a matter and the whole process throughout.

It also helps them kind of keep in pace with each other in terms of, you know, they’re sharing cases now. So, anything from a practice management system to I’ve even helped people build those types of things in Microsoft OneNote. Just anything that can be shared and can involve checklists and workflows and seeing where you are in a matter I think is really important. The other thing is often times these attorneys will have been using an AOL or a Yahoo account for a really long time and so I try to get them to get a domain, get a hosted exchange or Google for business so that they have a better communic- shared communication, shared calendar. All that sorts of stuff.

Niki Black: Okay. Those are some really great tips. Thanks so much for sharing. This is Niki Black, thanks for listening and hope we see you next time.

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