Cardinal principle of law firm management, the inverted yield curve, Heaven’s Way

Demographics are key to midsized law firms. And as Baby Boom lawyers enter their 70s, the yield curve demands deft management.

Mandatory retirement policies don’t work well in midsized firms. Nobody likes them, and they do a poor job of realizing the value of senior lawyers. Experience, judgment, and client relationships last, but at some point, the yield curve inverts. At some point, diminished stamina, the potential for disabilities, and cussedness kick in.

How to maximize the former and minimize the latter?

The Sixth Century Chinese sage Laozi gave thought to the problem. He observed:

“Stretch a bow to the very full,
And you will wish you had stopped in time;
Temper a sword-edge to its very sharpest,
And you will find it soon grows dull.
When bronze and jade fill your hall.
It can no longer be guarded.
Wealth and place breed insolence.
That brings ruin in its train.
When your work is done,
then withdraw! Such is Heaven’s Way.”


-Laozi, Dao De Jing

The principle goes beyond midsized law firms.

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