The Perfect Law Firm Succession Plan


Here at Bitter Lawyer we realize that we have a duty to our clients. At a recent CLE, above the chatter of that asshole in the front row, we learned that this duty may include what happens after we die. Initially our thought was: sounds like someone else’s problem. After all, if either of the attorneys here bite the dust, the attorney won’t be around to deal with the fallout. But that’s kind of a dick move. So we decided that we need a succession plan in the event one of us dies before the other.

The First Attempt

Our first attempt was childish and silly. Whoever dies first gets off for free. The surviving attorney just has to take over all the files and deal with it. He can hire someone, get rid of clients, whatever. And he has to give half the money in the operating account to the dead lawyer’s family.

But that sounded like a huge pain in the ass for the surviving attorney, and a windfall for the dead attorney’s family. We don’t want to encourage our families to get rid of us early, so we ditched that plan.

The Second Attempt

OK, we know that neither of us wants to deal with the other person’s clients. After all, most of those clients are ones we’ve swapped with each other because we cannot stand them. Our second attempt at a succession plan was as follows: the surviving attorney would collect all necessary money from the dead lawyer’s clients. Then he would hire some poor soul right out of law school to deal with those clients, paying him next to nothing. Then give thirty percent of the operating account to the dead lawyer’s estate.

Third Time’s a Charm?

Our second attempt at a plan seemed good at first. But it made us sad. We don’t necessarily want to survive each other. Plus, if we do, how are we supposed to deal with the grief of losing our law partner, then immediately deal with the annoyance of running a practice alone and hiring some kid? It sounded very draining. And 30%? If we are really baller when one of us goes, that could still be a huge payout to what we are assuming will be a bitter and unhappy spouse.

We briefly considered just offing ourselves once one person died. That didn’t even make it into a full plan because then, according to the CLE, someone would still be responsible for sorting through all our files and talking to our clients. We are assuming that in the coming years we will have committed enough sins. That’s no way to leave the world. So, inspired by George R.R. Martin, our final succession plan:

  1. One partner dies.
  2. Surviving partner goes on a huge vacation using the operating account funds.
  3. After the vacation, the surviving partner calls a meeting of all the firm’s clients.
  4. Clients are fed lots of food, and ample alcohol and cocaine are available
  5. Surviving partner locks all of the clients in a room and mows them all down.
  6. Surviving partner takes one for the team.
  7. All the firm’s remaining funds are given to a charity.

This plan is simple and effective. Nobody has to worry about the clients, and no bitter spouse makes out like a bandit at our demise. But the best part: the payout to charity will keep us from ending up like Marley and Marley.

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