This is part five of a five-part article:
New law firm associates most likely belong to the Millennial generation, also called Gen Y. These are lawyers age 33 and younger.
Transformative events that took place during the formative years of Millennials include 9/11, the war on terror, the Oklahoma City bombing, a rash of school shootings, the Great Recession and the first African-American president. They grew up with iPods, laptops and smart phones.
“Millennials were doted on by their protective ‘helicopter’ parents,” said Turner, “who scheduled their every activity and praised them for every little success. They grew up feeling confident, entitled and used to praise. They grew up spending a lot of time with their parents and other adults. They do not see older adults as superiors, but as peers.
”Because they grew up with the Internet, Millennials are used to working anywhere and at any time,” said Turner. “They prefer texting and other social media to using the telephone. They are fiercely multicultural and want to work at law firms that value diversity. They dress informally and might require reminders about ‘office attire’ that does not expose skin and bra straps, or involve flip-flops.”
In the workplace, Millennials do not respond well to criticism. They are not used to it. They like to work long hours and in groups – but not necessarily in the office and on a nine-to-five schedule. They see older lawyers as equals, and are blunt rather than guarded when it comes to sharing their opinions.
In today’s workplace, it is important to encourage Millennials with frequent, positive feedback,” said Turner. “Other generations should avoid insisting on ‘face time’, unless it is necessary.”
There is more than one way to approach and solve a legal problem and best serve clients. The more perspectives, the better the outcome. The various generations at law firms should value (rather than judge) the perspectives of their colleagues – those older and more-experienced, and those younger and less-experienced. It makes the workplace more interesting — and leads to better outcomes.
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