I want to discuss a topic of growing importance to in-house legal departments around the globe: succession planning. It’s no secret that the population is getting older and the “Baby Boom” generation is starting to retire. While a number of companies are working hard to put formal succession plans in place, there are many that are behind the curve. Moreover, most company plans tend to focus on succession of the CEO or CFO. Other key C-Suite positions are not receiving the same level of attention, or any attention at all. In particular, the succession of the General Counsel is often relegated to “also-ran” status. And within the legal department itself, there is usually little to no formal planning going on around succession management for senior or other key roles. This lack of planning can lead to big problems down the road.
This failure to plan arises from two things: 1) succession planning is a low priority for the legal department given everything else going on; and 2) it’s hard to get started and it can seem overwhelming – meaning an early onset of “planning paralysis.” Neither of these is a valid reason to fail to properly plan for succession within the Department. The good news is that it’s never too late to get started and you can participate in the process regardless of your position in the Department. Succession planning can be broken down into three parts: 1) evaluation of succession needs; 2) development of succession talent; and 3) putting a succession plan into place. There a lot to cover, so grab a cup of coffee and get comfortable as this edition of “Ten Things” will take you through the steps needed to create a succession management plan: