Are you ready for the labor shortfall?

The Wall Street Journal last Saturday wrote about what will happen to companies when their Baby Boomers retire. This discussion is consistent with our recent comments about law firms forcing partners to retire at an arbitrary age, usually at 65 years.

The firms surveyed by the Journal about what they are doing with Baby Boomers responded as follows:
1.    Implementing/enhancing succession-planning programs:   59%
2.    Providing training for professional development: 53%
3.    Increasing employee recruiting and retention efforts: 45%
4.    Implementing/enhancing mentoring programs: 35%
5.    Inviting retirees/future retirees to be consultants/trainers: 25%
6.    Increasing compensation/bonuses: 15%

It is apparent that many companies are still ignoring the realities of today’s workplace. Two years from now, workers over 45 years of age will equal 40% of the total workplace. Unless the “elder statesmen” of the law firm are engaged productively, it is quite possible that they will leave the firm and either go to another firm or start their own practice. Such folks generally don’t go away quietly … and they are usually successful in taking some prominent clients with them.

And don’t forget the consequences of the government’s action against the Sidley law firm of Chicago and their claims of age discrimination.

Reduced productivity can be dealt with by the firm; but our discussion presumes that productivity is not altered. The only factor that is different is crossing the line of a designated age — a number, nothing more. Not only is it good business to keep such folks actively engaged as lawyers, as mentors to younger lawyers and as elder statesmen dealing with the firm’s clients, the law prohibits age discrimination, it is also the law.


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