More on Generation Y in law firms

Finding the time to think is never as easy as it should be: the demands of a transactional practice leave little opportunity to step back and consider where a difference can and should be made. An email yesterday, which somewhat unusually I did not straight away consign to junk mail (the usual destination for unsolicited communication), took me to the Pennington Hennessy Blog and a short post on Generation Y, and from there to an excellent article in the FT (which had prompted the post), A to Z of Generation Y attitudes.

I have posted on this topic before, Graduate divas – don’t you love them (triggered by a Jordan Furlong post in Law 21), and it is, as some of my partners know, a particular hobby horse I ride. But that doesn’t make it any less important. What I found interesting in Alison Maitland’s FT article, is this,

Yet two studies into the attitudes of those Generation Ys that are in the workplace suggest that Carrie, Alex and their young professional peers are not as different from other generations as supposed – and not just because the recession has upset their expectations.

While craving excitement and challenge, nearly 90 per cent of Generation Ys describe themselves as loyal to their employer, according to the study Bookend Generations , published this week by the US-based Center for Work-Life Policy. In addition, nearly half of this tech-savvy and “connected” generation prefers face-to-face communication at work to e-mails, texts or phone calls.

But what sets them apart from us (and I am unashamedly a Boomer) is

the unprecedented pace of technological change, which shapes how they expect to work and why they resist boundaries; and the disappearance of the job for life.

Our challenge is how to engage with them.

A bleak future

Following on from Jordan Furlong’s recent post in Law 21 (which I commented on some days ago), a snippet from Legal Risk LLP’s March Newsletter*, after a law firm risk management conference in Chicago,

The future shape of law firms 

The traditional leveraged model of law firms with large numbers of associates was under attack from clients’ general counsel, one commenting that partner: associate ratios of 1:1 delivered better results than 2 or 3:1 – “the shape of the successful law firm is not a pyramid”. We know UK firms with corporate practices are increasingly under pressure to service in-house legal teams with specialist advice rather than do whole transactions – as one risk management partner put it succinctly, firms are being asked to take 10 per cent of the fees and 90 per cent of the risk.

This has been my recent experience in the UK, so what is happening that side of the Atlantic is already reflected over here.

* Legal Risk LLP’s website is . There is no hypertext link to the March Newsletter, but it is well worth reading. I rate Frank Maher really highly and he always talks sense.

Graduate divas – don’t you love them

Why am I not surprised at Catrin Griffith’s leader in The Lawyer, Why the law’s no safe haven.

. . . for a generation that has been raised on tales of riches, it will take a while for reality to sink in. Indeed, plenty of graduate recruitment heads are privately frustrated at Generation Y, which has been used to having everything on a plate, and hope the credit crunch could be the making of its members.

But perhaps the real reason why “opportunities for those entering the ­profession now look rather more limited” is less about the credit crunch (though that undoubtedly is a factor) and rather more about what the future of legal services in the UK may be. It comes back to Stephen Mayson’s warning, “too many qualified lawyers, too many law firms” (see my earlier post, The C word, but which one?).

. . . and as for generation Y lawyers, see Jordan Furlong’s post in Law 21 back in May, How to work with Boomer lawyers.