Succession Planning and Diversity Initiatives for Law Firms

Dave Ernst and Carol Bernick photo

What We Do

Ernst + Bernick brings over 70 combined years of law firm experience and 25 years of law firm management to law firms wanting to develop programs that: 

  • Allow lawyers to successfully transition from full time practice to maximize a smooth transition and maintenance of client relationships for the firm;
  • Identify barriers within the firm that may be impacting the firm’s ability to retain or promote women and lawyers of color;
  • Provide effective financial incentives to drive desired behavior.

Ernst + Bernick can also provide 1:1 mentoring to lawyers thinking about retirement or transitioning to less active practice and to mid- or senior associates wanting help developing their practices consistent with the firm’s strategic priorities to help ensure success. We offer individual or group coaching for lawyers in your firm assuming new leadership roles.

Who We Are

Carol Bernick

bernick | full bio

Carol’s focus is on helping law firms maximize their ability to retain or promote women and lawyers of color

Dave Ernst Portland

David Ernst

ernst | full bio

Dave’s focus is on lawyer succession planning and coaching lawyers who are assuming new firm leadership roles

Carol Bernick has 35 years of experience as a successful trial lawyer and business leader. As a partner at Davis Wright Tremaine (an Am Law 100 firm), Carol chaired the Attorney Evaluation Committee, the committee charged with recommending the advancement of associates to partnership. She also was elected to the firm-wide Executive Committee. For almost six years Carol was the Partner-in-Charge of the firm’s Portland office (at the time 100 attorneys). She developed creative ways for senior lawyers to remain involved at the Firm in new roles that created avenues for the transfer of experience and client relationships.

In 2014 Carol left DWT to become the Chief Executive Officer of the Professional Liability Fund, a position she held for five years. Then in 2020, Carol returned to Davis Wright Tremaine to devote herself to identifying barriers for success for women and lawyers of color—whether those barriers were institutional or personal—and worked to change systems internally and mentor lawyers to build and sustain fulfilling practices while balancing their personal lives. Carol also has experience in helping firms obtain Mansfield Certification.

David Ernst retired from law practice last fall after 37 years as a litigation attorney focusing on food safety. Dave worked at two firms over the course of his career, joining Davis Wright in 2011. Throughout his career, Dave served in many firm leadership and management roles. This included office managing attorney, firm president (175 lawyer firm), the compensation committees of two firms, and the firmwide succession planning partner at Davis Wright. Dave has a particular interest and expertise in succession planning for lawyers and law firms. He has worked with many lawyers over the years to develop thoughtful succession plans which ensure the continuation of client relationships and the development of younger lawyers. 

Let’s Talk

We have been ”in the trenches” as law firm lawyers and leaders for many years and would like to share with you the benefit of our experiences. Our goal is to partner with you to make succession planning and lawyer development a core value of your firm

We are happy to work with law firms of all sizes and can bill on an hourly or per-project basis. You can get in touch with us using the contact form below.


Contact Us

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