Retirement For Young and Old Lawyers: Part One 

“I look in the mirror and wonder who the little old lady staring back at me is.”

Doris Gottheil, age 95

What a strange title. Everyone knows that it is only old lawyers who have to worry about retirement, not young ones. Right?

I think not.

Life is kind of like Tetris. The pieces fall. You try your dang best to arrange them in lines to buy yourself more time. Then the bottom starts filling up, you have less space to maneuver, and then you lose.

You will get to retirement sooner than you think, and once you get there it is generally too late to do much maneuvering. It is everything that you did when you were younger that determines how you will enjoy your retirement years.

So yes, young folks. You  need to be thinking about this stuff. You may be retired for thirty or forty years. It deserves a tad more planning than your next vacation.

So, here are some of the things that you might want to think about:

A. What is retirement? I like the following definition: “retirement is when you are doing exactly what you want to be doing.”  So think about it. What do you want to be doing? Working? Working part-time? Volunteering? Living in the tropics? Teaching? Photography? Painting? Golfing?

As Yogi Berra famously said, “if you don’t know where you’re going, you’ll end up someplace else.” 

    You need to decide what your retirement will look like so that you can plan to get there.

    B. Once I am quoting old guys who most of my young readers will have to Google to confirm that I am not making them up, I might as well continue with this one from Telly Savalas who asked, “who loves ya, baby?”

    One of the things that will make you miserable in retirement is loneliness. It might even kill you. Think about that as you sacrifice your relationships with friends and family to generate billable hours. You are going to need to have people around you when you retire. They are not so easy to find when you are older. Keep the loved ones you have. Also, do not succumb to the insane delusion that your work colleagues and clients are going to be your support network when you retire. They won’t be.

      C. I am quite possibly the happiest married man that I know, but it took me two tries. In retirement I get to spend a lot of time with my wife, and both of us are happy about that. It is not that way for everyone.  Some of you might think more along the lines of Groucho Marx, who said, “marriage is an institution, and who wants to live in an institution?” If so, do not bring that baggage into retirement. If your primary relationship does not work for you, fix it  or replace it long before you want to retire.

      This was me scratching the surface of a very important topic. Next time I will continue with my brilliant reflections on retirement for young and old lawyers.

      This article was originally published by Law360 Canada, part of LexisNexis Canada Inc.

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