Articles From the Team
Have millennial lawyers got the right idea?
Recently, there have been a lot of articles reporting a rise in millennials who are ‘quitting’ their lucrative careers to live life differently. Headlines include: ‘Why more millennials are quitting lucrative jobs to travel’ and ‘43 per cent of millennials plan to quit their job within 2 years’.
I often hear the ready response amongst partners and directors at law firms: millennials are the ‘snowflake generation’ who have unrealistic expectations and lack the work ethic that previous generations had. But have these partners and directors taken a step back to look at it from the perspective of the typical (and bright) law graduate? Unlikely.
When they entered the workforce they would’ve had little or no student debt; house prices were a fraction of what they are today; everything was low-tech; the pensionable age was lower; and, the choice of career paths much less.
Fast forward to 2019 and we live in an entirely different world.
The millennial mindset and the legal profession
When technology offers so many different ways of staying connected and making a living, it increases opportunities for sharp brains to innovate and get ahead of the game (and many reasons for not commuting to an office every day). Is it any wonder that debt-ridden millennials who struggle to pay rent and save for a house deposit (and can probably look forward to working until they’re 70), are seeking a different way of being?
Studies also show that millennials are concerned about ethics and care a lot more about the environment than previous generations. Another reason why your average millennial might be turned off by a large corporate that's purely focussed on the bottom line.
As a legal recruitment consultant, I can already see that millennial inclinations are making themselves felt within the current legal market. I regularly come across lawyers who've taken one to two years out, mid-way through their career, to travel; NQs who want a number of months off to travel before they start their new role; an increasing number of lawyers who no longer desire a permanent role as they can get a great day rate on a fixed-term contract and then take three months off before their next project; and, junior lawyers who want part-time work - not because they have a family but because they’re in a band or have other creative interests they want to pursue.
Interpreting the legal CVs of the future
CVs are going to look a lot different in the future. Of course, there will always be career driven lawyers who want to rise through the ranks and make partner, but hiring managers will need to take a different approach in how they interpret CVs. Candidates who've "moved around a lot" or have "a lot of gaps on their CV" and "don’t seem to stay anywhere very long" should never be written off for these assumptions alone. Hiring managers must be prepared to look at the skills a candidate can bring for the time that they’re there, particularly in a market where there are far more jobs than candidates!
I imagine we’ll see an increase in fixed-term contracts within private practice; increasingly flexible working hours and practices; and, more firms showcasing their high standard of ethics and commitment to protecting the environment!
But that’s only the start. The legal profession is likely to see all sorts of changes in the way that legal services are provided. If we want to continue to attract bright graduates to the profession, we need to enable them to 'live their best life’ alongside building their career. And that’s not a bad thing after all; content and happy employees will always do good for your business.