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Preparing for the retirement of a veteran lawyer

The loss of experience, judgment, social networks, and cohesion when a veteran retires can wound a legal department. Most of what that lawyer contributed leaves at retirement, locked away in the retiree’s brain as tacit knowledge. What can a general counsel do to staunch the retirement loss?

Have the veteran coach a successor. Have the veteran prepare guidelines and rules of thumb about what she has learned. Have the veteran draft standard form documents with alternative language to handle different possibilities. Keep matters on a matter management system so the work of the old-timer remains available to others. Maintain a document management system so that the veteran’s work product remains accessible to all.