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Birmingham Bar Association Bulletin | Winter 2014

Human Interest in leadership (including CEOs and General Counsels). Law firms, however, are much slower to transition. 6 Thus, when it comes time to pitch a client, it may require age diversity to speak the same language. For example, a tech firm run by a group of 30-somethings isn’t going to relate well with a Baby Boomer who still has his secretary print his emails. Similarly, a young lawyer may bring a different perspective concerning how to communicate with a jury who expects trial by twitter. It can be beneficial to tap into the generation of young people who prioritize social media and technology at the same level as salary and future earnings potential. The following are common themes that ran through the comments from the Generation X members that were interviewed for this article: Let go of the notion that Generation Y lawyers don’t work hard. “They don’t look like they are working hard, but they are,” says one Gen Xer. Another Xer added, “They work smarter. It just looks different than what the older generation knows.” Do they get the work done on time? Do they provide a good work product? If not, then it’s not a generational issue; it’s an individual issue. Millennial use of technology is efficient, and important to the bottom line. Talk to a young plaintiff ’s attorney and she’s quick to tell you that she communicates via text with clients. It seems foreign to the old-guard lawyer and, in fact, many can’t imagine giving a cell phone number to a client. It is a simple way, however, to keep clients happy. Many young lawyers don’t need a secretary because it’s faster and easier to do the work themselves. Obviously, a client doesn’t want to pay for an associate rate for secretarial work, but it may be that dictating a letter takes more time than if the young lawyer drafts it himself. “Multitasking is their thing and they can look at their phone and still listen to you,” says one Gen Xer. The Internet has created a generation of short attention spans and the need for constant stimulation. “I’ve had a young lawyer look up a case and shepardize it minutes before the Judge walked into the Courtroom,” says another Gen Xer. Multitasking is a talent which may provide a beneficial edge where there otherwise isn’t one. Millennials are concerned about making mistakes, and therefore need feedback. Some firms have set up a mentorship program that provides a support base for young lawyers who need help or advice. Other young lawyers may just need an older lawyer to take him under the wing. In an era of recording and scrutinizing everything a person does, young lawyers are afraid to make a mistake because that mistake can go viral or blow up in seconds. Young lawyers may not have the patience to stay with one firm for very long. Assuming one knows how to motivate young law- yers, it does not necessarily ensure that they will stick around. “This younger generation of lawyers may not be the kind of people who are going to stick around for 20 years, no matter what you offer them,” says one Xer. “They may always get an itch to move on.” As Generation X and Millennials assume leadership roles in business and law over the next 20 years, it may be that the most successful businesses and firms will be those that were open to differing generational mindsets, and harnessed those differences to create an advantage in the marketplace. G (Endnotes) 1 XYZ University, Next Generation Intelligence citing the Social Security Administration. 2 XYZ University, Next Generation Intelligence citing the Social Security Administration. 3 The 2014 Millennial Report, citing the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. 4 “The Cheapest Generation,” The Atlantic, August 22, 2012. 5 “The Cheapest Generation”, The Atlantic, September 2012. 6 “Why understanding generational differences can make all the difference to your attorney and client relationships”, JD Supra Business Advisor, March 20, 2014. Custom Suits & Shirts from the world’s finest luxury Italian and English fabrics Delivery In 21 Days Image Is Everyying 40% OFF READY-TO-WEAR SUITS WHEN YOU PRESENT THIS AD Monday - Saturday: 10-7 P.M. Sunday: Closed 205-901-3805 5 Points South (Front of Highland Grill) 2018 11th Ave. S. Birmngham, Al 35205 Birmingham Bar Bulletin/ Winter 2014 19


Birmingham Bar Association Bulletin | Winter 2014
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