Philadelphia attorney Robert Heim quickly scanned the list of partners eligible for election to his law firm’s policy committee, hunting for his name. He enjoyed this familiar ritual. Like so many other validations, the list confirmed his leadership at a firm where he made partner three decades ago. He took pride in having won election every year in which he was eligible. But this year would be different. There it was in black and white: ineligible.
At age 64, he could no longer complete a two-year term because committee members had to be younger than 65. He had supported the age cutoff every time the issue had come up. Now that it applied to him, the policy stung.
“It was the first time in my life that I was ever too old for something,” he recalls. “It made me start to think, ‘I’m in the traditional retirement zone without having spent even one day thinking about it.’ ”
That unsettling moment nearly three years ago set the silver-haired litigator on a path familiar to hundreds of thousands of baby boomers nearing retirement. For him and others, the notion of being too old is unexplored territory. Who was he if he was no longer a litigator at the peak of his game? He didn’t feel old. Yet he began to wonder whether it was high time he considered moving on, if there were other things he wanted to do with his life than practice law.