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MCLE Self-Assessment Test

Bar to host two workshops to help lawyers plan for retirement

By Amy Yarbrough
Staff Writer

More than half of working-age households are at risk of not having enough money to maintain their standard of living after they retire, according to a study by the Center for Retirement Research at Boston College.

What’s more, the outlook for baby boomers and Generation Xers looks far less rosy than it does for those now entering retirement, the 2010 National Retirement Risk Index notes.

To attend the workshops contact Richard Carlton at 415-538-2355 or Indicate the date you’d like to attend and the number of people attending. Spouses and partners are welcome.It’s with that somber forecast in mind that the State Bar is planning a series of workshops aimed at helping lawyers map out their financial future. “Planning for a Healthy Financial Future and a Retirement You Can Enjoy” is currently scheduled for Oct. 16 and 22 at 180 Howard St. in San Francisco and Oct. 28 and 29 at 845 S. Figueroa St. in Los Angeles. The seminars will take place from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. with a break for lunch.

Richard Carlton, acting director of the State Bar’s Lawyer Assistance Program, said the sessions should be particularly useful for sole practitioners, noting, “There is a general perception that a lot of people who work for themselves don’t do a great job of planning for their financial future.”

Following the October workshops, the Lawyer Assistance Program will offer one-on-one financial planning sessions for individual lawyers.

Fewer and fewer Americans have pensions to rely on, and generally Social Security benefits only cover 20 to 25 percent of expenses, Carlton said. Whether you even have the option of retiring may depend largely on the extra money you’ve set aside.

“Unless you decide early on what that nest egg is going to be, you may or may not have the resources to do that,” Carlton said.

“We’ve had many attorneys in our program over the years who are in their late 60s, early 70s without even a thought of stopping working because they don’t see it as an option,” he added. “We’re not even talking about fancy lifestyles, we’re talking about the basics.”

Attorney Jay Foonberg, a former chair of the State Bar’s Senior Lawyers Division who has  led seminars for senior lawyers on retirement, said some lawyers are resistant to planning because they don’t want to stop working and don’t intend to. Then, they’re hit with a major roadblock, like health problems.

“When you reach 65 you’re really in the fourth quarter of your life,” he said. “They don’t prepare. There are a lot of reasons people have. They just worry about it when the time comes.”

The San Francisco sessions will offer tips on maximizing Social Security and deal with topics such as annuities and when, where and how attorneys can retire, according to presenter Bob Goldman, a Sausalito-based financial planner.

Because he and the other fee-based planners presenting at the workshop do not have products to sell, that advice will be objective, he said.

Financial educator Pat Funk, one of the authors of the book “Lawyers at Midlife: Laying the Groundwork for the Road Ahead,” will lead the L.A. seminars. She described her presentation as more of a life planning program and said it will help lawyers figure out what they will need to have a fulfilling retirement and how to make their savings work for them. It will also touch on “new approaches and new paths for saving money in retirement that weren’t available to our parents and grandparents,” she said.

“I think it’s going to be an opportunity to identify where they are in their retirement planning. Are they on the right path, or are there some corrective actions that will help put them on a better path?”

Funk said the financial information will not only be valuable to attorneys, but their clients, noting the amount of influence that lawyers can have.

“We’re finding that attorneys have to be more financially literate with their clients,” she said. “It’s a unique role that attorneys can play.”

Funk, who has led planning workshops in Oregon and a number of other states, said even wealthy attorneys can benefit from the information. Even attorneys who use professional money managers  have told her they learned things their advisers didn’t bring up, she said.

“My challenge to myself (is) everyone gets to go away with one thing that they didn’t think about,” she said.

The final hour of the program is an optional, free presentation on stress, depression and related concerns. It qualifies for one hour of MCLE credit in competency issues.

To attend the workshops contact Richard Carlton at 415-538-2355 or Indicate the date you’d like to attend and the number of people attending. Spouses and partners are welcome.