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The Last Week
Old 04-28-2010, 12:30 AM   #1
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The Last Week

I've been counting down the last week until I...call it semi-retire. Everyone at work calls it retiring. That is, I plan to continue workinga about 1 day a week.

It was only the end of last week that this became public knowledge at work and it has been somewhat interesting to see the reactions or non-reactions. I did talk individually to the attorneys in the group that I practice with and they all responded fine.

What has been interested this week is everyone else. I have a number of the support staff (non-attorneys) congratulate me or tell me how lucky I am. They clearly see being able to retire as a good thing and something that I should be very happy about. I've had people explicitly tell me that being able to retire is wonderful and that everyone works toward that.

The contrast has been with the attorneys. Except for the ones that I talked to who work closely with me, not a single attorney has said word one to me about the retirement or the ESR or, well, anything. I can't help but feel that many don't see this as something wonderful and don't really understand why i want to do it at my young age (I'm 56 so not all that young).
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Old 04-28-2010, 12:42 AM   #2
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I don't know much about lawyers. Could it be that the lawyers are competitive with you and don't feel comfortable acknowledging your success in reaching retirement?

Or, perhaps they feel uncomfortable because you are a woman and they aren't supposed to ask a woman's age.

Or, maybe there is a "culture" among lawyers in which retirement just isn't considered to be a lawyer-like thing to do before one is terribly old and decrepit.

I have no idea.

But anyway, I'd take the good hearted congratulations from the support staff in the way in which they are intended, and blow off the odd response from the lawyers. YOU know that you are on the verge of successfully attaining your goal of early retirement! That's terrific.
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Old 04-28-2010, 01:07 AM   #3
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I think there is probably a combination of things. I think that most of the lawyers certainly wish me well. I do know a couple have told my immediate boss that he will never be able to replace me and I think they see me leaving (or severely reducing my hours) as something that is good for me which I have a right to do but which is a blow to the firm. This is coupled with the fact that recently a significant high level attorney with the firm was diagnosed with an extremely serious illness and that is probably also very much on people's minds (as it should be) and is dominating the thoughts of most.

I also think part of it is that many attorneys don't get the concept of retirement at all. I don't think I've ever known an attorney in good health to voluntarily retire. I've known a number of attorneys still practicing in their 70s or later. So while I think they would generally wish me well I also think that the concept of retiring in one's 50s is entirely foreign to many.
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Old 04-28-2010, 07:09 AM   #4
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I also think part of it is that many attorneys don't get the concept of retirement at all. I don't think I've ever known an attorney in good health to voluntarily retire. I've known a number of attorneys still practicing in their 70s or later. So while I think they would generally wish me well I also think that the concept of retiring in one's 50s is entirely foreign to many.
My wife just ESRd from her practice at 57 (closer to ER, she will just have a minor business development relationship with the firm). None of the other attorneys even contemplate such a thing. My brother (attorney/lobbyist) is still going strong at 76. As long as they enjoy what they are doing I say, go for it.
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Old 04-28-2010, 10:45 AM   #5
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I think there is probably a combination of things. I think that most of the lawyers certainly wish me well. I do know a couple have told my immediate boss that he will never be able to replace me and I think they see me leaving (or severely reducing my hours) as something that is good for me which I have a right to do but which is a blow to the firm. This is coupled with the fact that recently a significant high level attorney with the firm was diagnosed with an extremely serious illness and that is probably also very much on people's minds (as it should be) and is dominating the thoughts of most.

I also think part of it is that many attorneys don't get the concept of retirement at all. I don't think I've ever known an attorney in good health to voluntarily retire. I've known a number of attorneys still practicing in their 70s or later. So while I think they would generally wish me well I also think that the concept of retiring in one's 50s is entirely foreign to many.
Come to think of it, the very few attorneys that I have known have worked until the day they died (in their 80's). So, I can relate to what you and donheff are saying, that retirement might signify poor health to the other attorneys at your work.

I can certainly see why they aren't congratulating you, if they are unsure as to whether or not your retirement is due to some extreme illness! I do think you are right that they would wish you well, if they were sure it would not be a faux pas to do so. After all, they have worked with you for years. I'm sure they wish you the best.
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Old 04-28-2010, 11:11 AM   #6
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I didn't mean to imply that they think I'm ill, just that the illness of this other person is something people are thinking about more than whether or why I'm retiring. I think that many just enjoy their work and don't really understand why people would retire. Also, I think that for some the long hours required has led to them not necessarily having a lot of outside interests so they think that they would be bored during retirement because they had nothing to do. I, on the other hand, have lots of outside interests so have a long list of things I want to do.
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Old 04-28-2010, 11:22 AM   #7
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I think retirement is wonderful! You will be free to do what YOU want to do with your time, to pursue your outside interests or just relax and decompress. Sounds to me like you aren't going to be one bit bored in retirement.

It's kind of sad when people get so wound up in their jobs, that they don't really know how to live a fulfilling life if they aren't working. Of course THEY don't see it that way, but I do.
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Old 04-29-2010, 01:11 AM   #8
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Today was sort of interesting. I was asked to write a listing to send to a headhunter for my replacement. I found it surprisingly difficult. The things that make me particularly valuable are not the type of things that you can really put in a job description.
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Old 04-29-2010, 09:40 AM   #9
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Don't make it too stringent! And make the job sound interesting. After all, you want them to find somebody, so that they won't be calling you back forever...
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Old 04-29-2010, 01:42 PM   #10
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I would venture to say that for many people being an attorney is not what you "Do"
In a real sense it is what you "Are" Retirement does not change that basic understanding. Sure there are crooked and lazy and inattentive attorneys, but equally there are those who have gone to the wall or the mat for a client and win or lose they are deeply affected by the process.
General Royall, who defended the Nazi saboteurs and was later Secretary of the Army always felt that his defense work in that case was the high point of his entire career . You don't retire from what you are.
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Old 04-29-2010, 02:20 PM   #11
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Congratulations on your last week as a full timer, KM.

I know only one attorney who is retired and his big law firm keeps an office for him anyway (is this common in big firms for retiring partners?). Not sure if he ever uses it. I really don't think the other five attorneys I know well will retire until they are in their 70s, if then.
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Old 04-29-2010, 02:27 PM   #12
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Martha may have some insight. She went part time (attorney) first. Wherever she is she'll eventually get back here.

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Old 04-29-2010, 04:39 PM   #13
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I've been counting down the last week until I...call it semi-retire. Everyone at work calls it retiring. That is, I plan to continue workinga about 1 day a week.

It was only the end of last week that this became public knowledge at work and it has been somewhat interesting to see the reactions or non-reactions. I did talk individually to the attorneys in the group that I practice with and they all responded fine.

What has been interested this week is everyone else. I have a number of the support staff (non-attorneys) congratulate me or tell me how lucky I am. They clearly see being able to retire as a good thing and something that I should be very happy about. I've had people explicitly tell me that being able to retire is wonderful and that everyone works toward that.

The contrast has been with the attorneys. Except for the ones that I talked to who work closely with me, not a single attorney has said word one to me about the retirement or the ESR or, well, anything. I can't help but feel that many don't see this as something wonderful and don't really understand why i want to do it at my young age (I'm 56 so not all that young).
I think its a sign of the times for corporate america...

very few people I work with show any sense of humor or emotion at work (all professionals). The ones which do are ones I know outside of work too- thru other things- or people which have been around a long time and just know everyone in general.

the people which supported you probably "knew" you best of anyone. They feel comfortable around you enough to express appreciation. More than likely this is based on you treating them well when they helped you, or you being such a tough person to work with they wanted you gone.
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Old 04-29-2010, 05:04 PM   #14
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I've been counting down the last week until I...call it semi-retire. Everyone at work calls it retiring. That is, I plan to continue workinga about 1 day a week.
Congratulations on achieving one of life's great milestones, one that some people really never fully achieve. Too bad about the reaction of some, but you can't worry about that - you can only control your reaction. I wish you the best...
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Old 04-29-2010, 05:57 PM   #15
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Congratulations on making your deam a reality !
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Old 04-29-2010, 06:44 PM   #16
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Thanks for the well wishes.

I don't think it was until the end of the day that I realized I actually getting to be a little bit upset.

Looking at it rationally, I realize that perhaps I shouldn't feel that way.

Part of it is that the past few days have started to be a real transition. Basically not being in the loop so much and not being given work that I would have been given before. Now, feeling strange about it (not upset about this part but strange) is sort of irrational on my part as they are doing what I asked. That is I met with each person in group and told them that I don't want to routinely be copied on things, I want off the circulation list on matters. I only want to be emailed or sent things on matters where I am specifically being consulted about something. I don't want the day to day, ongoing involvement. And that is how it has been this week. This is what I want (and it really is) yet it still feels strange.

The part that is upsetting me somewhat is that no one is talking to me about my semi-retirement, no one is asking me anything. It is like it is just invisible. I talked to one the attorneys that I work closely with today who is a good friend (he has known about my plans for months). I know he is interested and wishes me well. But, even he hasn't suggested we go to lunch or anything. His perception is that most people basically see this as not so much me leaving as me simply going to reduce hours and not be there as often but they will see me next week. And I can rationally understand that. Of course, for me this is a huge life altering change. Going from working long hours full time to working 1 day a week is a huge, huge difference. But he perceives that most people don't actually see me as retiring or even semi-retiring so much as just working less hours.

And, yet....he mentioned that one of the administrative people had asked him what he thought I would be doing with my time. That is an interesting question but it is even more interesting that she asked him but not me.

Anyway, I realize I'm being somewhat inconsistent. I don't want people making a huge fuss or acting like they will never see me again when I'll be there one day next week....yet it still seems strange that more hasn't been said.
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Old 04-29-2010, 07:00 PM   #17
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In my case, I eased into semi-ER after the start-ups I joined failed, and I did not want to return to a megacorp setting. So, I was spared the big jolt of an abrupt life change. I would say that your ambivalence was not all that unusual. Of course we know about our friend Midpack over there...

About people who act like nothing happens, well, the truth is that life goes on, and they have to carry on. When I left my secure megacorp job to pursue my pie-in-the-sky, my friends and coworkers acted cool, but I later found out that they were really curious and wanted to know what happened to me. Yes, they often queried each other about me, as I later found out. It made no difference though to what I had to do about my own life and decision.
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Old 04-29-2010, 07:42 PM   #18
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Thanks for the well wishes.

I don't think it was until the end of the day that I realized I actually getting to be a little bit upset.

Looking at it rationally, I realize that perhaps I shouldn't feel that way.

Part of it is that the past few days have started to be a real transition. Basically not being in the loop so much and not being given work that I would have been given before. Now, feeling strange about it (not upset about this part but strange) is sort of irrational on my part as they are doing what I asked. That is I met with each person in group and told them that I don't want to routinely be copied on things, I want off the circulation list on matters. I only want to be emailed or sent things on matters where I am specifically being consulted about something. I don't want the day to day, ongoing involvement. And that is how it has been this week. This is what I want (and it really is) yet it still feels strange.

The part that is upsetting me somewhat is that no one is talking to me about my semi-retirement, no one is asking me anything. It is like it is just invisible. I talked to one the attorneys that I work closely with today who is a good friend (he has known about my plans for months). I know he is interested and wishes me well. But, even he hasn't suggested we go to lunch or anything. His perception is that most people basically see this as not so much me leaving as me simply going to reduce hours and not be there as often but they will see me next week. And I can rationally understand that. Of course, for me this is a huge life altering change. Going from working long hours full time to working 1 day a week is a huge, huge difference. But he perceives that most people don't actually see me as retiring or even semi-retiring so much as just working less hours.

And, yet....he mentioned that one of the administrative people had asked him what he thought I would be doing with my time. That is an interesting question but it is even more interesting that she asked him but not me.

Anyway, I realize I'm being somewhat inconsistent. I don't want people making a huge fuss or acting like they will never see me again when I'll be there one day next week....yet it still seems strange that more hasn't been said.
In a sense, it almost seems like this aspect of semi-retirement is more difficult to handle than a complete retirement. When I retired, they gave me a party and everyone said all the nice stuff about missing me and all that I done through the years, asked me what I was going to do, congratulated me, ate cake and finger foods and so on, and I got to tell them how much they meant to me and how proud I was to have worked with them through the years. Since you're semi-retiring, you don't get that closure. As silly as a retirement party may seem, it has a purpose and it does help with this sort of thing. I think I'd feel strange too, if my experience had been like yours has been.
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Old 04-29-2010, 07:49 PM   #19
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It may be because they think you will soon be back to a few days a week or they do not understand why you are leaving . I did the same thing I retired and went to one day a week . That year solidified my resolve to fully retire but no one believed it . They kept on saying you will be back . I finally told them I was burned out and taking a leave whether it would be six months or forever I was not sure of . This satisfied everybody .They still contacted me offering me jobs until they realized I was permanently retired .
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Old 04-29-2010, 07:50 PM   #20
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Katsmeow,

Congratulations to you.

I had a similar experience during my final days. When I left it was pretty short notice. My co-workers weren't happy that I decided to leave but I knew I was doing what was best for me. In the final day, for celebrating, I ending up bringing in a cake on my own. (Didn't matter to me as I was HAPPY it was my final day). My co-workers were saying, "this isn't a happy day, it's a sad day." But they did go ahead and bring me out to lunch and wished me well.

I will say that when I left, I was more than happy to leave a very stressful, hectic job. But during my last day, when I took some time to reflect in my own cubical, I was getting sentimental as I looked back at my entire career. From when I started to my final days. I suppose because it hit me that was the last time, after 20+ years, I would walk out the building for the final time.
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