Recently, we discussed what law firms should know and understand about their Gen Y attorneys.
Millennials are a controversial generation, but I suppose that each generation is. When a new generation comes of age, it typically translates to change. Change often breeds discomfort. Therefore, each generation has criticisms to cast on the next. But in the end, different doesn’t mean better or worse - it just means different. While each generation holds positive and negative attributes,
there are several characteristics innate to millennials that can help the modern law firm grow and prosper.
Recently, we illustrated The State of Mobile Technology in the Legal Industry. We showed that 15% of the 1,268,011 licensed attorneys in the United States are millennials. Interestingly, the things that are natural or assumed to millennials are also, in many cases, appreciated by other generations as well. If you take a look at the legal industry, you’ll find that the levers of success in the modern law firm are aligned with millennials’ innate attributes and priorities.
Below we explore ways that millennials are making the legal industry better for everyone:
- Millennials demand technology. As technology natives, millennials are very active users of mobile devices and other new technologies. In fact, nothing makes for a disgruntled Gen Y attorney more than a firm that does not have the right tools available to enable the attorney to do his or her job in the most efficient way possible. In a recent post by Toby Adamson, she also concurs “Millennials are more self service oriented and more willing to adopt technology to get something done faster”. She states “Dictation will die with this generation. Millenials think while typing."
- Millennials embrace mobility. Millennials came to age in the era of mobility. A typical millennial will share “war stories” about his or her first mobile devices, used during their teenage years. As mobile functionality has increased, so has millennials’ reliance on these devices to manage their work and personal lives. This means that millennials are naturally adept at conducting business anytime, anywhere - whether in the office or at the baseball field on the weekends.
- Millennials are driving innovation. While millennials may come to the workplace with a certain set of expectations (which can be misread as entitlement), they are relentlessly focused on seeking solutions and improvements that will bring change to both their immediate environment and the world at large. As children, millennials were taught that “anything is possible.” This unleashed a creative and visionary energy within the generation, which is already known for innovators like Mark Zuckerberg. According to a recent survey published by Deloitte, 62% of millennials describe themselves as innovative and 78% believe that innovation is essential for business growth.
- Millennials believe in purpose. The old phrase “It’s not personal, it’s business” does not resonate with millennials. When a millennial commits to something, they tend to embrace it from every aspect. Jobs and careers are carefully chosen stepping stones that allow them to execute on their life purpose. Things like profit and salary are only one metric that millennials use to evaluate their job and the organization that they work for. In some ways, this has left both employers and consumer product manufacturers scrambling to understand just how to appeal to millennials. In fact, a recent Fast Company article titled, “Millennials’ Version of the American Dream,” discussed how this generation is motivated by flexibility, the ability to forge meaningful connections, the desire to leave a legacy and work for organizations whose missions they believe in.
- Millennials are relentlessly efficient. The efficiencies that millennials look for can change the economics of the law firm so that the firm will be on track to run leaner. Consider that most law firms are operating with higher attorney to legal assistant ratios than ever before, between 1:4 - 1:6. One of the primary reasons that this is even possible is that new generations, like millennials, are tech savvy and hold a self-service mentality. This trend benefits the law firm as service offerings improve and costs are lowered, yielding a savings between 25%-40%.
Millennials were raised during an era of economic prosperity, so they’ve always had access to new things. Now they’re looking for substance. The Deloitte Survey mentioned above reflects this. When asked about the purpose of a business, the top answer was to “improve society.” This is very telling of the millennial mindset.
Millennials seek to use technology that will allow them to complete their work efficiently and effectively. They strive to continually improve the organization they they work for as well as society as a whole. While each generation presents with new expectations and styles, we can all agree - millennial priorities are good for everyone at the firm.
How do you feel that millennials are encouraging positive change within the legal industry? Share your comments below.