How to work with the millennial lawyer

July 14, 2017

Gen Y, or more commonly referred to as “millennials”, make up the largest generation of the workforce and are often misunderstood by employers. Most millennials are working for law firms that often have little knowledge on how to effectively work with the modern-day millennial. This can lead to tension in the workplace, breakdowns and massive miscommunication.

Firms commonly encounter an imbalance with millennials as they continue to apply outdated management policies and procedures. What motivated older generations doesn’t appear to be working with millennial lawyers. It’s becoming clear to the legal recruiting services industry (and recruiters in general) that this generation has very different expectations and priorities from those that came before it.

Work-life balance doesn’t hold the same meaning. Millennials understand that it can’t be all work and no play and, more importantly, can’t be all play and no work. They take pride in their jobs, in fact it’s one of the most important aspect of their lives. They want a career that easily fits into their lives and vice versa. Millennials give high praise to finding a corporate culture that allows them to integrate both work and non-work-related demands into their days. Flexibility is key.

Leadership and professional development is important. Millennials value continual personal and professional growth. Law firms are excellent at providing professional development opportunities, however, the millennial lawyer is looking for opportunities that will allow them to develop their skills and knowledge in areas beyond the law, such as public speaking, writing, sales, and creativity. This is a great opportunity for law firms to groom associates for business development down the road.

Millennials value mentorship, respect experienced lawyers and want to learn! They admire accomplished men and women who helped paved the way for other younger generations in the legal profession. Millennials look up to these individuals, who have worked hard to build successful careers, because ultimately, they want the same thing. Lawyers are often told at an early stage in their careers to find mentors and build relationships, unfortunately, law firms rarely incorporate mentorship into their work culture.

Millennials like to give back. Law firms that show a commitment to philanthropy and social responsibility will resonate well with millennial lawyers. Investing more resources in pro bono work, legal clinics, and other volunteer work aimed at addressing social justice issues will go a long way in retaining associates.

It’s a new age and law firms that are willing to embrace the changing face of the workforce will have a better chance at retaining their star associates for the long-haul. Management principals that were once important to the seasoned lawyer may not be as relevant to today’s up-and-coming rainmaker.

If your firm is thinking about associate retention, why not reach out to one of the top legal recruiting firms to discuss your options? Our legal recruitment consultants team is available to discuss retention strategies with you.

Akash Bir, Senior Recruitment Associate