Raising the Bar: Millennial Attorneys

October 3, 2017 Legal Industry News

In a previous post, I wrote about the importance of understanding “millennial” lawyers—a generation of lawyers who grew influenced by technological developments and financial uncertainties that is not interested in the corner office or employer loyalty. These lawyers come in bolder, embracing diversity and defining success differently.

Here are a few more important observations that came up in discussion after that post:

A New Take on Work Life Balance

For this new generation of lawyers, work-life balance doesn’t mean fewer hours on the job for their families—it means a more predictable workflow and flexibility as to where and when their work gets done. In conversations with this group of attorneys, they want to be able to work from home on the weekend. Most supervising attorneys are understandably skeptical when first presented with this—but when I bring up the topic, many report that by granting younger attorneys flexibility, they would receive excellent work in return.

The takeaway: flexibility doesn’t mean laziness. Millennial attorneys are still focused on excellent client service—what they are challenging is the traditional way of getting there.

Mobility

Prospects for professional growth is one of the key reasons that millennial attorneys choose one employer over the other. Generally, millennial attorneys are less eager and willing to just sit and stay put—most want to know what their options are and that there is a target (or rather, targets) that they can work towards.

The takeaway: evaluate whether you are able to provide meaningful work that will help advance a junior attorney’s career in your practice. Additionally, consider setting aside resources and time to ensure that seasoned attorneys are mentoring fresh attorneys. As a bonus, this creates an organic environment where all attorneys are comfortable supporting each other as peers and colleagues.

Feedback

Feedback, checkpoints, and evaluations are all millennial hallmarks. Virtually all millennials come from backgrounds where they have received a lot of feedback, and enter the legal workplace craving feedback as well. There is no silver bullet to providing adequate feedback, but it should be made a priority. This demonstrates to hungry attorneys that their employer is responding to their needs, and that they should seek support when they don’t know how to do something rather than trying to do it on their own and hiding their mistakes.

The takeaway: brainstorm ways to implement, update, or improve a formal training program for young attorneys. Perfecting “mentorship” is tough, but it is worth it.

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