Millennials and the partnership pathway: how to maximise Millennial potential

Millennials and the partnership pathway: how to maximise Millennial potential

We are living in a unique period in history where for the first time five generations of professionals are all at work—and working together. This epoch could pose a significant challenge for employers, as law firms have a tough brief in balancing the different, and often conflicting, value sets of the different generations. However, reconciling the realities and traditions of the legal industry with the values of Millennials and Gen Z employees is more important than ever. As increasing numbers of baby boomers begin to take retirement, in the space of five years the workforce will see the Millennial cohort retain the majority and by 2020, more than 50% of the global work force will be Millennial.

Despite their ascendency, Millennials continue to confound many business leaders. Often, their professional aspirations and motivations do not tally up with the status quo. A recent survey, found that only 30% of junior lawyers are interested in becoming partners in a law firms, a pathway which had previously defined or confirmed success for lawyers. While this may be cause for concern, the survey results should galvanise law firms into harnessing their Millennial talent to safe guard the partnership pathway as an appealing and culturally relevant opportunity.

Broadly speaking, Millennials possess five key characteristics:

  1. They are curious, and reason driven. Millennials want to know why they are doing something and will question the value of the proposed task. Big picture thinking defines this group, as does their desire to ‘make a difference’.
  2. Millennials do not value occupational longevity in the same way as their baby boomer colleagues. On average, Millennials stay in a job for a maximum of three years before leaving. In addition to this, they often fly in the face of ‘occupational monogamy’ and will be involved in ‘side hustles’ as well as their 9–5.
  3. Millennials demand a good work/life balance and will leave jobs if they appear to be inflexible.
  4. This group are tolerant, feminist and globally minded.

While on the surface it appears that the partnership model and the Millennial are largely incompatible, there are a number of overlapping values that make Millennials great prospects for partner.

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About the author:
Catherine is one of the Future of Law's digital editors. She graduated from Durham University with a degree in English Literature and worked at a barristers chambers before joining Lexis Nexis.