Millennial Lawyers Cause Disruption: Next Steps...

By Sharon Golec on Wednesday, October 24th 2018
Management des Directions Juridiques

By 2025, millennials (born between 1981 and 1999) will represent 75% of the workforce, according to a study by Robert Half.  They will soon become the majority, and their preferences will therefore modify business culture.  Starting now, how can legal departments do a better job with harnessing millennials’ energy and responding to their aspirations?

A study by Thomson Reuters, “Legal Department 2025 – The Generational Shift in Legal Departments”  proposes some ideas, using as a starting point the most common perceptions of General Counsel about millennials:

- They are tech savvy (74%)
- They want to be involved in decision-making of the legal department (70%)
- They expect to be promoted quickly (63%)
- They value life/work balance more than other generations (63%)
- They prefer to work for companies that align with their values (59%)

Technology:  it is indisputable that millennials have grown up with technology, and view it as an opportunity rather than a threat.  They can be real assets to legal departments involved in digital transformation and its impact on tools, processes and outsourcing.  Naming millennial lawyers to a “digital assessment” team, and naming one as the team leader, is an excellent way to capitalize on this critical competency while giving the millennials visibility and responsibility (see points two and three above).

Decision-making:  General Counsel can benefit from millennials’ creativity and open-mindedness, as well as their interest in frank discussion (note that they are considered “too candid” by survey respondents), to solicit their point of view.  Millennials do not want to have to “pay their dues” before being entitled to express their opinions.

Promotion:  there may be a disconnect between perception (69% of baby boomers think that millennials will stay in their current company for less than five years) and reality: 38% of millennials think that they will stay for less than five years, but 47% expect to stay more than five years.  A major issue is probably millennials’ lack of visibility about their career prospects, since only 26% of legal departments have succession planning, and only 6% have a formal mentoring program.  There is room for a better alignment of interests here, since millennials are very interested in receiving coaching and mentoring by experienced lawyers, in both formal and informal settings.  For their part, companies have much to gain by ensuring that Baby Boomers’ knowledge is retained.

Life/work balance: the study does not make any specific recommendations, other than reminding General Counsel of the need to be attentive to the issue.  In our experience, millennials are not afraid of working hard, but they want to work smart.  They want to make full use of technology 
and the mobility it offers, and be judged on their results, not on hours spent in the office.

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