BigLaw and millennials: peas in a pod
Almost every day, we see another article on millennials; they are examined, prodded and prodded to determine exactly what they are and why they are not like the rest of us.
I would say otherwise. They are like the rest of us, only better. Millennials represent the hopes and dreams of the generation that came before them. We made them, therefore, we should already understand them.
Yes, Baby Boomers (and those slightly younger) raised millennials in the same way that BigLaw, the world’s largest and most successful law firms, trains its young lawyers. Like parents, partners teach best practices to partners. They are models of what works and what doesn’t. BigLaw creates environments, activities and committees geared towards pleasing its associates. In more ways than one, partners praise partners, particularly for their skillful use of various technologies. In fact, BigLaw continues to offer associates, of course, the most advanced technology on the market.
BigLaw’s parents taught their progeny to appreciate time away from work as much (or more) than time in the office. Women and minority attorneys, who had to work harder and harder to get noticed and promoted, taught their boys and girls that everyone should be held to the same standards; their children were taught not to accept anything less. As BigLaw parents of all styles worked diligently to climb the ladder of success, they taught their children that being the best in both recreational and academic pursuits is paramount.
Baby Boomers expanded BigLaw’s practice beyond regional, national and international. As their practices grew, they encouraged their children to be local and global, as learners and leaders. BigLaw parents taught independence; their children learned it. And then BigLaw parents were able to praise their children for yet another achievement.
It should come as no surprise that Baby Boomers have created millennials. As in many other endeavors, we did a good job. Studies routinely show that millennials are the most educated generation to date. Some may observe that millennials appear to “have a right,” but millennials believe that everyone else has a right, too. They are a generous and generous generation, as highlighted in almost every published report that statistically analyzes millennials. In fact, Deloitte’s Annual Millennium Surveys confirm, time and again, that millennials prefer to work with organizations that have a purpose beyond financial gain.
Is it bad that millennials want to believe in their employers’ social missions, rather than simply their professional purposes? After all, some young attorneys’ work may be entry-level or may not provide the most exciting content, and learning how to do it right can be an all-day and all-night proposition. Yes, the BigLaw Baby Boomers worked 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. No, they did not enjoy it. The difference is that (their) millennials weren’t brought up to smile and put up with it; They were raised to work hard, add value, and fight for what they believe in.
BigLaw: The challenge is to embrace millennials, understand and meet their career goals, and give them something to believe in. It would be a shame to let all your hard work go to waste and watch your luscious peas find another pod to call work, life, and balance.