Planning for retirement

A guest post by Ronnie Fox of City firm Fox & Partners

Fox: From partnerships to piano

In 2006 I started thinking about retirement whilst founding a boutique practice specialising in partnership and employment law (now Fox & Partners).

Ten years later, a friend told me that I would never be able to retire; that remark prompted me to spend the following 12 months buckling down to the serious task of planning for retirement.

Retirement planning means devoting time and energy:

  • to organising your own path to retirement;
  • to working out a legacy and how you would like to be remembered;
  • to finding out ways of ensuring succession and reducing the burdens on your colleagues and family; and,
  • to minimising the risk of dying whilst working at a desk.

The invaluable help and support of colleagues has enabled me to wind down gradually into semi-retirement. The objective now is to increase the proportion of every week engaged in enjoyable and fulfilling tasks and to reduce the amount of time spent doing anything else. There have been three significant milestones in my journey towards retirement.

A partner asked whether there were any lessons which could be extracted from 50 years in the practice of law.

That triggered a list of points starting with the importance of a team approach – referring to “our client” and not to ”my client” – and concluding with the key to successful law firm management: getting people to play to their strengths.

Then, a major new instruction in an interesting case came my way. After taking a deep breath, I concluded that there were at least 10 reasons why my reverting to full-time practice would be a bad idea in view of the way in which the practice of law had changed (including GDPR, anti-money laundering, requirements to provide pricing information, undermining succession arrangements, the consequences of Brexit and cyber threats).

Finally, in July 2019, I was invited to put together a book about retirement. I had previously published a book about golden handshakes, contributed chapters to five different legal textbooks and written many articles. But I had never edited a report composed by a team of expert contributors. So I agreed to give it a go.

A crucial part of the route to a happy retirement is keeping the mind active by learning new things. (That is why my eldest granddaughter is teaching me how to play the piano. That is why my wife and I have recently taken up bridge.)

After hearing that I was considering the implications of retirement, several lawyer friends said to me that, because I love the practice of law, I would never be able to retire completely – but that if the book was produced and did contain some sensible ideas about how to plan for retirement, they wanted to know how to go about it for themselves.

As a direct result, I now offer retirement counselling to professionals!

The task of putting together the book took much longer and turned out to be more difficult than I had imagined. We would not tell readers what to do; that is what lawyers do all the time. Instead our approach would be to suggest questions about retirement which lawyers and other professionals need to ask themselves because rarely will those questions be asked by others.

Our book/special report on partner retirement has now been published.

The outcome has been a happy one. In the course of my journey towards retirement, I have learnt a tremendous amount from colleagues at Fox & Partners and the other contributors to the book.

I now have more time to spend with family and friends, Covid-19 permitting. Books which have been sitting unopened on bookshelves for years are being read and enjoyed.

This period of staying at home provides an ideal opportunity to start planning for your retirement. That will definitely help you to cope with whatever life may bring.

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