Boomers, Gen X and Millennial lawyers make-up law firms: How's that working out?

Baby boomers? They got all of the luck. College was cheap. Work was plentiful. And the music rocked. 

Gen X? They're kind of the odd person out, coming between boomers and Millennials. They've been called the middle-child generation, and it ain't fun being a middle child.

Millennials? They're called snowflakes because they think they're so special. If you hire one, you need a ping pong table. 

So put them all together in a law firm and what do you get?

Chaos!

Infighting!

Workplace lawsuits by the gazillion!

Actually no. 

Actually they all play rather nice together, accoridng to a recent study called Multiple Generations in Law Firms: Working Together.

The National Association for Law Placement, Inc. (NALP), in partnership with PP&C Consulting principals Aric Press and Yolanda Cartusciello, were behind the first-of-its-kind study, which is offered free to the public at www.nalp.org/generations,

It provides insights into some of the generational dynamics at play in the current law firm work setting. The report highlights the results of a survey that gathered responses from 2,473 lawyers — 1,394 partners and 1,079 associates during 2019.

One takeaway: "As the survey results make clear, the lawyers in these law firms are not monolithic. There are differences within and between generations, genders, and racial groups. However, it is also the case that the lawyers in the survey have more in common with each other than areas in which they differ."

Mixing Generations

With members of the Baby Boomer, Gen X, and Millennial generations all working together in today’s law firms and popular culture providing so many tropes and stereotypes for each of these distinct generations, the study seeks to measure some of the similarities and differences in the opinions and attitudes held by partners and associates of a variety of ages.

The oldest members of the Millennial generation have become partners at major U.S. law firms. It turns out these new partners share most of the attitudes and habits of the partners they are replacing or joining. They prefer to work more often from home and they have a somewhat higher opinion of their associates than their elders express, but in terms of their commitment to their work, their overall satisfaction, and how closely their values align with their firms and clients, Millennial lawyers appear to be cut from the same patterns as their predecessors.

Partner Aspirations

Not surprisingly, perhaps, law firm lawyers from multiple generations are more similar than they are different, though some significant differences emerge. “The most surprising finding to me, and certainly among the most important findings, is the finding that Black and Latinx associates are more likely than White associates to aspire to become partners at their current firms,” notes James G. Leipold, NALP’s Executive Director. Another key finding is that most associates — 59% — do not aspire to become partners at their current firm.

Read the full Multiple Generations in Law Firms: Working Together report at www.nalp.org/generations.

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