Demographics of US companies and increasing demands on law departments

As we watch the retirements of the baby boom cohort, the strata in companies where employees have been learning about their companies for 15 or 20 years and are in their late 50’s and early 60’s, law departments become valued repositories of institutional knowledge. Business managers ask the lawyers how issues were handled in the past …

That is, unless law departments endure the same exodus of experienced grey hairs. I have spoken with one government law department that is staring at the virtual certainty of watching its best lawyers take retirement, en mass and imminently. Something like 40 percent of its lawyers are retirement eligible in the coming three years. A tsunami rushing out to sea.

Law departments need to develop retention packages, keep a few key retirees as consultants, rely more on law firms, build robust knowledge management tools, train backup lawyers in-house, or otherwise cope with the coming talent void. (See my post of April 18, 2005 on the average age of US in-house counsel.)

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