Millennials now account for 43% of actively licensed lawyers and will eventually join Generation X in assuming leadership roles in law firms as Baby Boomers retire over the next decade. What do senior attorneys need to understand about this generation in order to train young lawyers for today and prepare them for tomorrow?
Linda Woolf, Managing Partner at Goodell DeVries, was among the presenters at the Maryland State Bar Association's 2019 Legal Summit & Annual Meeting in Ocean City, Maryland. She served on the panel "Bridging the Generation Gap" to discuss managing Millennial lawyers. In a presentation analyzing generational demographics and characteristics, Linda outlined key points that firm leaders should understand when working with young lawyers.
Linda discussed what Millennial lawyers value:
- Meaning: Millennials want to make a difference. They are focused on community service and social responsibility and want to feel that their work fulfills a meaningful purpose.
- Work-life Balance: Young lawyers want to work remotely, maintain flexible schedules, and have time for hobbies and family.
- Collaboration: Millennials are not tied to the traditional law firm hierarchy and are more likely to view everyone's roles and viewpoints as having equal importance.
- Diversity and Inclusion: Members of this generation value diversity of experience. They are more likely than lawyers of previous generations to belong to a minority group.
- Technology: Millennials grew up with and embrace technology. They view it as indispensable for achieving efficiency and "working smart."
Likewise, it's important to understand how Millennials learn:
- Research-based: Millennials respond best to a variety of visual, auditory, and kinesthetic information.
- Relevance: Information for information’s sake does not impress.
- Rational: Millennials need to understand why before accepting a policy or rule.
- Relaxed: They prefer a laidback approach with flexibility, freedom, and creativity.
- Rapport: Millennials need to feel a connection to the instructor.
(Source: "The 5 R’s of How Millennials Learn," Christy Price, Ed.D., Dalton State College, 2009)
According to the ABA, about 400,000 Baby Boomer lawyers will retire within the next decade. Although Millennials are now still concentrated in associate ranks, they will soon take their places among partners and practice leaders. To manage Millennial lawyers effectively and prepare them to lead, senior lawyers must understand how to teach and encourage a generation that brings to the profession a new set of values and approaches.
For more information on her presentation, "Managing Millennial Lawyers," contact Linda Woolf.