"Old and Making Hay:" The Results of the Pro Bono Institute Firm Survey on the Viability of a "Second Acts" Program to Transition Attorneys to Retirement Through Pro Bono Work

Kenneth Glenn Dau-Schmidt
Esther F. Lardent
Reena N. Glazer
Kellen Ressmeyer


In his 1998 Fairchild Lecture, Professor Marc Galanter proposed the idea that senior attorneys should be encouraged to undertake "a second 'public service' career" as a way of transitioning to retirement. The logic for encouraging such "Second Acts" in lawyers' careers is compelling. As Professor Galanter has demonstrated, in the coming years, there will be record numbers of attorneys navigating the transition to retirement as the "Baby Boomers" reach their golden years. This substantial body of highly skilled lawyers could have a significant impact on fulfilling unmet needs for legal representation. If even 5% of the practicing attorneys over sixty-five participated in such a program, this would double the number of attorneys working primarily on public interest work by as soon as 2011! Such work could provide personal renewal and fulfillment as a capstone in the careers of this idealistic generation. Moreover, if such a movement were embraced and systematized by the legal profession, it could provide substantial benefits to firms and the profession as a whole. While facilitating the retirement of an unprecedented number of senior attorneys, "Second Acts" programs would allow those senior attorneys to retain contact with their clients while those clients transfer to other attorneys in the firm and allow senior attorneys to focus on training and mentoring junior associates through pro bono work. This work would also help meet the pro bono obligations of the firm and the profession as a whole.