Changes are afoot, and the next generation of attorneys doesn’t necessarily see things the way you do. They have different priorities, different styles, different long-term goals. If your firm is currently working to integrate a new generation of 22 to 37-year old millennial lawyers into your practice, as most are, it is crucial to understand what they are looking for and how to provide it, while not undermining the traditional values and practices of your firm.
As Jordan Furlong says in his article “Deciphering the Millennial Lawyer”:
“The millennial personality is a poor match for traditional law firm culture. Law firms are conservative, hierarchical organizations that sell time, value experience, reward seniority, and encourage personal sacrifice. It’s hard to overstate how little this interests your average millennial, who is drawn to a workspace that offers open collaboration, occupational creativity, rapid advancement, and personal fulfillment.”
And therein lies the root of the problem; the millennials simply want different things than your firm is structured to provide. How effectively you are able to implement these changes will determine the future of your firm. Some guidelines to ease the transition:
- Accept their differences and try to accommodate them.
- Target their strengths – confidence, collaboration, flexibility.
- Offer variety rather than specialized roles.
- Redefine the road to partnership and test their commitment early on.
Now, one of the big problems with incorporating such drastic changes is that it can feel like capitulation. But the first step is getting past that mindset and recognizing these changes for what they truly represent, the inevitable transition from one generation to the next. It is going to occur eventually whether you embrace it now or not. It may be hard to do, but in the long run your firm will be more successful because you got out ahead of the curve instead of waiting until it was forced on you.