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According to data taken from Census Bureau data of 2015, the Pew Research Center found that Millennials now make up the largest workforce in the nation, according to the Pew Research Center, they're expected to soon become the largest living generation.
Along with this giant demographic change are the attendant cultural shifts that come along for the ride. Millennials are the new lawyers, doctors, and service professionals of today. Thus, law firms need to attract young millennials lawyers and keep them if they are to survive. As attorney Bruce Stachenfeld has so presciently noted, if the lawyers leave, what kind of a firm do you have?
Millennials are more liberal than their aging colleagues. They prefer open office doors, casual dress, and being able to talk to their boss without feeling like their talking to their boss. The fresh word for this reorganization treatment is "holacracy". It stresses a more horizontal team approach rather than a top-down hierarchy which has been the hallmark of BigLaw. And as we know, BigLaw is starting to get a bit long in the tooth. The new generation of workers favor a work environment that has less structure and more autonomy. Besides, they also have fewer reasons to even think about BigLaw.
Nobody likes to be micromanaged. In the past, associates just accepted micromanagement as simply a part of firm life. But increasingly, millennial lawyers are emphasizing work-life balance in their employment decisions. Firms can attract young talent by tossing micromanagement policies. Instead, focus on the overall quality of a project rather than slavishly looking at minor, mostly insignificant points. One shouldn't need to micromanage fresh attorneys -- what one should offer instead is sound training. Give your new attorneys extra skills and value and you'll foster loyalty.
It is an unfortunate feature of BigLaw that its structure has tended to foment jealous rivalry and an atmosphere of distrust -- between associates and even between associates and their immediate superiors. BigLaw is a culture unto its own. Thus, BigLaw has lost a lot of its brass-ring shine because many millennials are not quite as eager to trade off satisfaction and fulfillment for name and salary anymore. Small firms can offer something that large firms can't -- intimacy and trust. Millennials, for better or worse, take mutual respect very seriously.
The entire game plan is structured around attracting great young talent. Ditching stodgy traditional customs will go a long way to doing that. Keeping your talent will require fostering a decent work environment that is built on trust and mutual respect rather than constant daily rivalries. If you strive to tailor what your firm offers to millennial talent, they'll stay -- and your firm will make it through this generational shift.
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