Back in 1967, the Beatles released a song written by Paul McCartney when he was 16 years old: “When I’m Sixty-Four, ” the theme of which was: when he turned the incredibly old age of 64, would he still be loveable enough to be needed and fed?
Today, the “Mayden” in “Young Mayden,” would appear through the eyes of the 16-year old Paul McCartney to be not so Young, as today is her 64th birthday. But funny, 64 doesn’t seem so old from her 64-year-old perspective. And, to many law firm partners who perhaps played a drafting hand in their firm’s mandatory retirement policies, 65/70 may have seemed ancient when drafting, but not nearly so old as they turn 60, 61…
The mandatory retirement rationale harkens back to the days when most clients were “firm” clients, handed down like grandmother’s pearls. These policies predated the days of partner and client fluidity. Many firms have revisited their policies and made changes, however many are still in place “as is.” And now, firms are all over the board in how they treat mandatory retirement – from the hard and fast, to the policy on the books with the ability to waive once/twice, to the hard and fast (but we waive when nobody is looking because she is just too good), to the “step down,” to the “we start talking about transition at age x,” to no policy at all – it just happens. Or not.
Then, there are the firms which have jettisoned their mandatory retirement policies altogether, not only keeping good, productive partners (who, if they elect to remain active are allowed and encouraged to do so provided they comply with the standards which apply to all partners), but in addition, enabling those firms to be on the receiving end of many talented, experienced lawyers, still blowing and going, who are departing mandatory retirement firms with valuable relationships and reputations in tow. This is why Young Mayden loves mandatory retirement policies.
Yes, Mayden is now 64, and Young isn’t far behind. And many of our friends and colleagues that we have developed relationships with over our combined 60+ years of practice and bar service are staring down the mandatory retirement abyss. Some look forward to the leap… but more aren’t ready to stop. These are the baby boomers. To quote another song title – Forever Young. They want to stay in the game, And Young Mayden is here to help.