An older lawyer wants a younger lawyer to return phone calls.  The younger lawyer wants the older to return texts.  An older lawyer wants to interact face-to-face.  The younger lawyer wants to interact electronically.  An older lawyer wants to see a younger lawyer well-dressed and at his or her desk.  The younger lawyer wants to be casually dressed and working remotely.

Have any of these situation come up at your law firm?

“A law firm can have as many as four different generations working together at the same time – and often on the same team,” said Caroline Turner.  “Each of these generations brings different expectations and styles to the table – depending on the cultural climate in which they grew up.  Each generation can be dismissive of the traits of those who are older or younger.”

Generations are strongly shaped by historic and technological developments during the first two decades of their lives.  These in turn lead to different values and different approaches to work and the workplace.  Depending on a lawyer’s generation, there are specifics “do’s” and “don’ts” to effective workplace interaction.

When misunderstood, these differences can hinder communications and workplace experience,” said Turner.  When understood, these differences can be put to work to enhance the goals of the law firm.”

Turner discussed generational differences at the monthly educational meeting of the Rocky Mountain Chapter of the Legal Marketing Association, held March 11 at Ocean Prime in LoDo, Denver.

Turner is a lawyer and principal at Difference WORKS LLC, where she helps leaders achieve better business results by creating inclusive work environments.  She is author of Difference Works:  Improving Retention, Productivity and Profitability through Inclusion.  She is former general counsel of Coors Brewing Company and a former partner at Holme Roberts & Owen.

“The four generations are typically referred to as the Traditional, Boomer, Gen X and Millennial generations, said Turner.  “These are generalizations.  Obviously, many of your lawyers come to you from the ‘cusp’ or transition point of two generations, and will exhibit mixed traits.”

This is part one of a five-part article.  For the complete article:

Radio-age meets Internet age:  How do different generations of lawyers communicate?