Millennials have taken over the world…
Now, this doesn’t mean we are facing the apocalypse or the end of an era. In order to create synergy and a great working environment, it is imperative for you and your firm, to understand the motivations, needs and workflow of the millennial lawyer.
This generation values several things that senior lawyers might consider irrelevant. This situation, which is not restricted to the legal sector, forces companies to adjust their schedule, hierarchy, motivational speech and even dress code to the current times and employees.
As this tendency is common not only in Australia but all over the world, think about it not as a problem, but as an opportunity to be part of a breakthrough in legal services. You will be evolving at the same pace as both your clients and employees.
Millennials and the Legal Industry
Sometimes misunderstood, or judged over misconceptions, millennials are extremely capable individuals. Lack of interest and motivation, as well as a demanding approach and dependency on the internet, can be oriented to great success. They are indeed, different from previous generations, but the same misconceptions have been applied to every other generation before them.
When it comes to numbers, a vast majority of the labour force consists of employees who were born between the 1980s and the late 1990s. This number will consistently grow in the following years. This statistic reinforces the urgent need to accommodate your ideas to make the best of this generation.
Preparing yourself and setting up a workplace where their unique qualities can be fully exploited will make a great difference to your firm.
Characteristics of the Millennial Lawyer
Several scientific articles coincide that millennials are lazy. Some studies say they are self-centred and that they lack both motivation and concentration. While others say they are narcissistic, need constant feedback and motivation and jump from job to job which shows a lack of loyalty. These are the negative aspects that most people identify this generation.
On the other hand, positive aspects such as multitasking, transparency, honesty and an open mind are also recognised among millennials. Regardless of how hard it is, empowering lawyers by listening to their needs and suggestions, and allowing them to modify schedules and having more ME time, will be fundamental. Listen to them, as they will often surprise you with disruptive strategies and “client-catching” ideas.
Samuel Li, an Australian entrepreneur and lawyer from Longton Legal, said “Our millennials are showing great initiative in transforming our company. They are thinking differently, and this has helped our clients in their businesses. Clients tell us that they want the latest business trends and new ways from our firm to help them navigate and think differently.”
How to Properly Deal with Millennial Lawyers
Here are a few tips which will help you get the most of these challenging but extraordinary individuals. Although there is no magic formula to make this happen, think about the fact that not only lawyers are now millennials, but your clients as well.
First, inspire, provide feedback and advisory to your newcomers. Millennials, although highly disruptive, value experience and timely advice. Communication and guidance are the keys to success as they will provide you updated information on the development of a case or transaction and give you trustworthy lawyers.
As feedback is a two-way street, you should ask for their opinion on current developments and important aspects of the law firm, regardless of their position in the firm. As Susan Smith accurately declares, “Provide them with more information on the business of law so that they better understand — and have confidence in — the firm’s strategies for success in future”.
Second, appreciating that hierarchies exist for a reason, there are no excuses for eliminating hierarchies and communication barriers in the firm. Team-work and multidisciplinary skills are among the best features of millennials. They often avoid working for big firms that can be strict and have communication barriers between associates, senior partners and junior lawyers.
Although in Australia, firms tend to be more open and less strict in this specific category, multinational legal firms, regardless of their office location, and tend to work with the same anachronistic model on a worldwide scale.
In relation to hierarchies in legal firms, Fiona Crawford, General Manager of Human Resources at InfoTrack, describes retention and satisfaction: “Your staff doesn’t want to see 25 lawyers between them and the partners. They want access to your senior partners, so give them that access. Take them out for coffees.”
Third, offer training on what your firm needs the most. Millennials love being updated on almost everything. From technology to news, this generation will know everything that is happening around the topic they like. Providing them with the relevant tools and courses will help both parties.
Also, creating an early promotion system where lawyers are involved in designing the strategies and working hand in hand with senior partners, will make them feel valued and motivated.
Fourth, consider the possibility of flexible schedules and remote work. Working is not in the core of millennial lives. We are not saying that they are lazy, but that they prioritise enjoying life over work, unlike previous generations.
Provide new scenarios, such as video conferences instead of meeting in person, or take advantage of new means of communication and time management applications. This will help them deliver their work and have a certain amount of freedom. Also, consider remote work and telecommuting for some positions or several days a week.
To do this you should also think about a different approach to billing and working schedule. Meeting deadlines and providing certain work, while moving away from the billable hour system, will be highly valued by both millennial lawyers and millennial clients.
Several big law firms in Australia have implemented, with outstanding results, new options for work schedules and telecommuting. This new approach has increased employee retention and satisfaction.
The site Law and Technology Today describes this new approach: “Millennials reject the notion that “life” and “work” are antithetical concepts that must be balanced against each other. Rather, work should be an enhancing an interesting aspect of life.”
Your firm will greatly benefit from new perspectives and ideas from millennial lawyers. They have proven to be a great asset to any industry when they feel motivated and involved in crucial decisions. You will be surprised by how their ideas can increase efficiency and work-life balance to every member of your firm.
Jon Michail, Image Consultant | Personal Branding Coach | Business and Personal Branding Strategist | Author | Group CEO and Founder, Image Group International |
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