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Internal Succession

Firms across the country, large and small, are facing what is often identified as a daunting task. That task is creating, managing and executing a solid, internal succession plan that effectively addresses a firm's short, intermediate and long-term goals and continuity issues.

The challenge of an internal succession plan is unusual, as it can take on both internal and external considerations simultaneously with "top to bottom" and "left to right" factors within the firm itself. Several of these factors will be discussed in this internal succession module.

It is important to note that the approach to, and creation of, an internal succession plan for a firm is truly unique to the firm itself. Some of the more obvious reasons that each plan is unique to the firm are:

  • What are the firm's capacity issues or opportunities?
  • Does a firm have access to an internal talent pool or to external talent?
  • Structure of the firm - is the firm top heavy?
  • What is the tenure or age of its partners?
  • What is the time and timing of the partners' succession plans?
  • What is the level of internal commitment of the firm's partners to address this issue?
  • Is the current partnership agreement written to assimilate upcoming or new partners?
  • How does a firm analyze its success quotient, or lack thereof, for internal succession?
  • What is the willingness of the partner group to understand or agree to longer term continuity and the sacrifices that may be necessary to achieve this?
  • What are the specific roles/responsibilities of the partners approaching retirement or succession?
  • Does the internal succession plan factor role reallocation as well as role succession and what is the difference?

An internal succession plan is difficult as it can take many different and occasionally conflicting goals. Some have said an effective internal succession plan is like an internal acquisition, and they would be right. Some have said it feels like an internal sale of the firm, and they, too, would be right. Some have said it is better if we find an external solution, and they also could be right. It truly depends on what resources you have, currently, or could secure in reasonably short order, and whether the goal of achieving the "common good" can be agreed to. That is the elephant in the room for most firms; whether the goal of achieving the common good can be agreed to or achieved.

This module will provide foundation for you and your firm to walk through many of the steps for internal succession.

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