Across the country judges and their family members are reporting the importance of talking about hopes and strategies before approaching retirement. Most say they wish they'd started planning and finding common ground about expectations at age 50 if not before. But they also emphasize it's never too late to address retirement concerns and find new vision.
Judges may differ from each other and from the people in their households in what they anticipate. Expectations may even be tied to personality type. Most like structure, while some prefer flexibility. One judge revels in travel planning involving golfing and visiting family and friends. Another looks forward to increased volunteer opportunities for helping others in their communities and elsewhere. Some want to assist other nations with their judicial systems through special projects of the National Center for State Courts or the Central European and Eurasian Law Initiative (CEELI). Activities like writing or researching attract some judges. A number of judges intend to take courses to learn a new language, improve computer skills, discover how to research their family tree, or study a variety of academic subjects. They know when learning never ends vitality is increased.
Lawyers may be unique in their ability to make choices around how day-to-day life will look in retirement. Some judges expect to do part time or full time work in their "retirement" years. Many plan to do mediation or arbitration locally, nationally, or internationally. Their experience with neutrality and credibility as judges help equip them for effective alternative dispute negotiating. Others look forward to adjunct teaching in law schools or universities where their experience and knowledge are valued. Some hope to become "senior judges," continuing to function as part-time judges. Still others will become "private judges" in states where such work is authorized. Many others prepare to work as lawyers or consultants privately or with others. Some will serve "of counsel" to law firms in areas of special interest. A few will take on altogether new non-law-related careers after retiring from judging.
Resources are available for beginning family discussions about retirement expectations. Many states offer programs about judicial pensions. Some states and the federal judicial system present more comprehensive retirement planning seminars. In many cases both judges and their family members are invited to attend. A popular Internet search engine offers over 302,000,000 articles on retirement. Information is also available in libraries. But since health, mobility, and opportunities exceed anything prior generations may have experienced, the use of fairly new materials is important. An online bookstore lists over 5,700 retirement books while pointing to their most popular ones.
One place to begin assessing what materials would be personally helpful would be to take the brief "Grace Retirement Index" in When Every Day Is Saturday, a book by former Purdue University Vice President Richard Grace. It examines thoughts and feelings about the following six areas to help determine what features need more thinking: Freedom and Leisure, Finances, Work, Family and Friends (a location issue), Health, and Helping Others. The author concludes by saying what many judges and their family members have said repeatedly, that good attitude and planning are essential to enjoying a fulfilling retirement.