Bar News - June 21, 2017
NH Investigates Program to Assist Lawyers Nearing Retirement
By: Cecie Hartigan
The NH Lawyers Assistance Program (NHLAP), with the endorsement of the NH Supreme Court, last month hosted a special program designed to increase knowledge among New Hampshire legal community leaders around assisting attorneys as they reach retirement age.
The program, titled “Strategies for Transition: Mapping a Plan for New Hampshire,” featured speakers from the North Carolina Transitioning Lawyers Commission (TLC), a group founded to address lawyers’ needs as they approach retirement. This group has created a simple and effective approach to assisting lawyers who need to retire but do not want to, those who want to retire but are not certain how to do so, and paralegals and office staff who may need assistance in some cases. The work of the commission, like that of all lawyers’ assistance programs, is confidential.
In New Hampshire, more than half of all NH Bar Association members are currently over the age of 50. In addition, more than half of all association members practice in solo or small firms, which can create challenges if there is no clear succession plan in place.
In cases of sudden or unexpected incapacity, NHLAP is often called to assist with the tasks associated with closing a firm and providing for clients’ needs. As so many of New Hampshire’s lawyers reach retirement age at once, the NH Supreme Court and the NH Bar Association would like to proactively prepare for cases such as these, which are expected to become more frequent over the next decade.
The TLC speakers noted that many lawyers do not wish to retire and find it hard to see life beyond the identity of lawyer, particularly if it has been a satisfying experience.
Peter Beeson, a semi-retired lawyer who attended the program, said he’d like to serve on such a committee, “from the ‘mostly-retired’ perspective… if only to reassure lawyers that after a few uneasy months of finding another structure for our lives, (retirement) can be a wonderful gift we give ourselves for decades of hard work.”
Lawyers of all ages attended the program and there was resounding support for the idea of creating a similar committee in New Hampshire.
To learn more about the NHLAP, which offers confidential help to New Hampshire attorneys in a variety of circumstances, please visit the program’s website.
Cecie Hartigan is an attorney and the executive director of the independent and confidential New Hampshire Lawyer’s Assistance Program.