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Birmingham Bar Association Bulletin | Winter 2014

Human Interest Insights from the BuF Fer: I received a fair amount of feedback concerning the generational article in the Fall 2014 Bar Bulletin. Despite the positive comments and further insight offered by fellow lawyers, one comment stood out. A fellow Gen X partner spoke with one of her firm’s senior partners about the article. Apparently, this senior partner is interested in the generational discussion and has been for a while. The only comment he had to share, however, was, “Tell me something I don’t already know.” Well, that shifted my focus toward Generation X. I interviewed approximately 10 Generation X members about their experience and insights as the “buffer” between the older and the newer generations. I attempt herein to provide information and insight that may not have been common knowledge, or, alternatively, that may have been known but not necessarily understood in the same way. Generation X on bridging the gap between Boomers and Millennials It goes without saying that the future of the legal profession does not rest with the Baby Boomers. In fact, four million American Baby Boomers (1946-1964) retired this year.1 And, starting in 2015, Baby Boomers will no longer be the majority of the workforce. The majority of the workforce (not necessarily the legal market) will be Generation Y, ages 20- 33.2 There are currently 32 million 25-34 year olds employed in the United States.3 Although the legal market trails current trends in the business world regarding the shift of leadership from Baby Boomers, the transition is within the purview of law firm management. As John, a 40-something Executive Manager from a large local bank said, “Generation X is the buffer between the two generations who have very different values.” Sally, a Gen X partner at a large defense firm, recently shared the same Jessica Powers sentiment. She is on her firm’s executive committee and says that “the older generation seems to have a hard time wrapping its head around the fact that the younger generation is not necessarily motivated by money.” Now, before the scoffing starts, understand that she is not stating that millennials don’t want or care about making money. Instead, her observation is that money is no longer the proverbial “carrot.” In other words, accumulating wealth, buying a big house in the suburbs, and driving a Lexus is not what gets the Generation Y lawyers out of bed in the morning and to the office by 8:00 a.m. In fact, Millennial values seem to be trending in a different direction than those of their Baby Boomer parents, or so says their spending habits. Both car sales and homes sales are significantly down among the Gen Y population. According to a Federal Reserve study, the number of Generation Y Birmingham Bar Bulletin/ Winter 2014 17


Birmingham Bar Association Bulletin | Winter 2014
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