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Generation Game 

Catherine Boyle on how Millennials are shaking up the legal sector


There is no question that one of the hottest topics around right now is the concept of Millennials.

They are disrupting the global marketplace across every industry, especially the legal sector.  

But who are we referring to when we discuss these market-moving Millennials? Essentially, they are the generation after Generation X, sometimes referred to as Generation Y, who were the fi­rst graduating class of 2000. There is no real cut off point in terms of age, what we are really talking about is a similarity in attitudes, interests and expectations.

So, what might we expect the impact to be on law fi­rms? For starters, the 24/7 work hard play hard culture is going to have to soften or ‘flex’. This is a generation brought up and inspired by the gig economy, valuing flexibility, choice and on demand products and services.

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You may think ‘well, they will need to flex on salaries and bonuses if that is the way they want to work’, but that is precisely the situation they want. To coin a phrase from a survey we recently published on partnership, it’s not all about the money. Work/life balance is key – the idea of being chained to a desk is anathema to Millennials.

A survey by Deloitte in 2016, highlighted that Millennials are more interested in people than in money, prefer collaborative working structures, and value being able to work irregular hours as it suits them.

And It isn’t just the Millennials that will be thinking this way. Consider the impact on more senior personnel in your ­firm when they see your working practices evolving. Will they want a piece of the action or might they resist the change?

Take it another step and remember that these Millennials will also be your future clients. They will want to do business in different ways. Are you geared up to work with them? How will you know how to prepare your fi­rm for these changes in client demands? The answer, as always, is to look from within. Start to bring the younger members of your team into the decision-making processes, consult with them and most of all, demonstrate that they are valued.  

This is crucial. Being openly recognised for value and contribution to a ­firm is of increasing importance for Millennials. Listen to them, work with them and show them an open career path lies ahead.

Not convinced? That same Deloitte report suggested that 66 per cent of Millennials expected to leave their role by 2020. Make sure yours are in the other 34 per cent.

Catherine Boyle is Director for the North at Bygott Biggs Legal  Recruitment.

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