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When Is It Time for a Lawyer to Retire?

By William Vogeler, Esq. | Last updated on

As a lawyer, you may find it hard to set a specific time to retire because law life is complicated.

Unlike Cinderella, there is no magic hour when your coach turns into a pumpkin. Your car may need a tune up, but that's a different story.

Retiring from the law depends on a lot of factors. Here are a few to help you know when it's your time:

Heavy Cases

Warehouse workers carry heavy cases. But lawyer caseloads are heavier than refrigerators, and you can't just push them out the door.

As every responsible litigator knows, you have to go through legal procedures to withdraw from cases. Transactional attorneys, too, may have long-term ethical duties to former clients.

But if your caseload is winding down, and you feel like slowing down, maybe it's time to retire.

Life Signs

Unfortunately, too many lawyers die on the job. Others survive health scares -- like heart attacks, strokes, and breakdowns -- and then go back to work.

One lawyer, commenting anonymously on why lawyers don't retire early, said his friend died of an undisclosed heart problem. The attorney decided then he was not going to die at his desk or in a courtroom.

"Life is too short and there are too many things to do and to enjoy," he said.

Money Matters

Money matters in retirement -- just like in the rest of life. In all cases, it's about how much you need to live.

Writing for Time, Elizabeth O'Brien says there are three signs you can retire. It's about saving enough, managing debt, and staying busy.

Of course, lawyers are always busy. Somebody will ask them legal questions -- even if they are retired.

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