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'Old and Making Hay:' The Results of the Pro Bono Institute Firm Survey on the Viability of a 'Second Acts' Program to Transition Attorneys to Retirement Through Pro Bono Work


Kenneth Glenn Dau-Schmidt


Indiana University Maurer School of Law

Esther F Lardent


Georgetown University Law Center

Reena N. Glazer


Pro Bono Institute

Kellen Ressmeyer


affiliation not provided to SSRN

September 22, 2009

Cardozo Public Law, Policy and Ethics Journal, Vol. 7, No. 1, 2009

Abstract:     
In his 1998 Fairchild Lecture, Professor Marc Galanter proposed the idea that senior attorneys should be encouraged to undertake "a second 'public service' career" as a way of transitioning to retirement. The logic for encouraging such "Second Acts" in lawyers' careers is compelling. As Professor Galanter has demonstrated, in the coming years, there will be record numbers of attorneys navigating the transition to retirement as the "Baby Boomers" reach their golden years. This substantial body of highly skilled lawyers could have a significant impact on fulfilling unmet needs for legal representation. If even 5% of the practicing attorneys over sixty-five participated in such a program, this would double the number of attorneys working primarily on public interest work by as soon as 2011! Such work could provide personal renewal and fulfillment as a capstone in the careers of this idealistic generation. Moreover, if such a movement were embraced and systematized by the legal profession, it could provide substantial benefits to firms and the profession as a whole. While facilitating the retirement of an unprecedented number of senior attorneys, "Second Acts" programs would allow those senior attorneys to retain contact with their clients while those clients transfer to other attorneys in the firm and allow senior attorneys to focus on training and mentoring junior associates through pro bono work. This work would also help meet the pro bono obligations of the firm and the profession as a whole.

To further explore and facilitate the development of such "Second Acts" programs, the Pro Bono Institute has undertaken a survey of law firms on the magnitude of their current concerns in facilitating the retirement of senior attorneys, benefits to attorneys and firms in establishing such programs, and possible problems to be addressed in the development of such programs. In this essay, we present the results of the Institute's survey, along with the other existing arguments and data supporting the establishment of "Second Acts" programs and suggest how they might most usefully be constructed. In the first section of this essay, we present the existing data and literature concerning the establishment of "Second Acts" programs. This discussion not only summarizes the existing literature, but also serves as a basis for the discussion of our survey. In the second section we present and discuss the results of our survey. These results suggest that there is indeed a need for and interest in "Second Acts" programs that will facilitate the transition of attorneys into retirement with personally and socially meaningful work, and that firms believe that such programs will meet some of the firms' practical business needs. Finally we offer our conclusions regarding the desirability and optimal form of "Second Acts" programs based on our findings.

Number of Pages in PDF File: 23

Keywords: Pro Bono, Legal Profession, Retirement

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Date posted: August 12, 2008 ; Last revised: September 25, 2009

Suggested Citation

Dau-Schmidt, Kenneth Glenn and Lardent, Esther F and Glazer, Reena N. and Ressmeyer, Kellen, 'Old and Making Hay:' The Results of the Pro Bono Institute Firm Survey on the Viability of a 'Second Acts' Program to Transition Attorneys to Retirement Through Pro Bono Work (September 22, 2009). Cardozo Public Law, Policy and Ethics Journal, Vol. 7, No. 1, 2009. Available at SSRN: http://ssrn.com/abstract=1215190

Contact Information

Kenneth Glenn Dau-Schmidt (Contact Author)
Indiana University Maurer School of Law ( email )
211 S. Indiana Avenue
Bloomington, IN 47405
United States
812-855-0697 (Phone)
812-855-0555 (Fax)
Esther F Lardent
Georgetown University Law Center ( email )
600 New Jersey Avenue, NW
Washington, DC 20001
United States
Reena N. Glazer
Pro Bono Institute ( email )
1025 Connecticut Avenue, NW
Suite 205
Washington, DC 20036
United States
Kellen Ressmeyer
affiliation not provided to SSRN
Feedback to SSRN


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