Millennials as Corporate Counsel? The Good, the Bad, the Inevitable
Millennials are taking over. With more than 75 million 20- to 30-somethings in their ranks, Millennials now outnumber Baby Boomers as America's largest generation. They recently became the largest part of the workforce, as well, and by 2025 they'll make up 75 percent of all workers.
But what do in-house counsel think of this new generation? According to a recent survey by Thomson Reuters, many in-house attorneys think Millennials will bring much-needed changes to the profession, while some of the old guard still have concerns about these upstarts.
Millennials: Just Starting Off
Though there's no consensus about the exact cut-off date for Millennial membership, most agree that Millennials are those born sometime between 1983 and 2000, give or take a year or three. That puts most of them in their early 30's or younger, still at the start of their legal careers. Many are just now making inroads into corporate legal departments and in-house positions.
A survey conducted by Thomson Reuters, "The Generational Shift in Legal Departments," looked at how current in-house attorneys viewed these younger colleagues. The survey involved 153 attorneys, 29 percent of whom identified as Baby Boomers, 49 percent as Gen X, and 22 percent as Millennials.
For the most part, the results were positive. Millennials were viewed as tech-savvy, entrepreneurial, creative, and collaborative, with a strong value for diversity.
Seventy-four percent of respondents thought that millennial attorneys would hasten technological adoption in their departments. Seventy percent said Millennials wanted to be involved in decision-making processes, and 63 percent thought that Millennials expected to be promoted quickly.
Millennials were also typically perceived as valuing work-life balance more than others and preferring organizations that matched their values and morals.
Not all perceptions of Millennials were positive, though. Common negative views of Millennials were that they are addicted to social media, overly candid, and entitled. (One wonders whether we're describing HBO's "Girls" here, or Millennial lawyers.)
Most importantly, Millennials were deemed disloyal by many of their colleagues, who thought they were looking to jump from one job to the next. And though younger workers do change jobs more often, older generations' views of Millennial career advancement didn't match with the predictions made my Millennials themselves.
Sixty-nine percent of Boomers thought that Millennials would leave their current organization in less than 5 years, for example. Only 38 percent of Millennials predicted moving on in under five years, while 47 percent planned to stay longer.
When Millennials do jump ship, it's often for a better salary. Ninety-four percent of Millennials surveyed marked salary increases as they main reason they'd change jobs.
Whether you're embracing the Millennial future or screaming "get off my lawn," increased Millennial influence in corporate legal departments is inevitable. Just check out this stat from the survey. When asked what they planned to do next in their careers, 50 percent of Millennials said they expected to move up in their current legal department.
For Boomers, the most common response was "retire."
- What Corporate Lawyers Think About Millennials (The Wall Street Journal)
- How to Manage a Multigenerational Legal Workforce (FindLaw's Strategist)
- Law Partners Are Aging Faster Than CEOs of Companies They Serve (FindLaw's In House)
- For GCs, Legal Issues Abound as Workforce Ages (FindLaw's In House)
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