Headlines are filled with the impact millennials are having on the status quo. Said to be changing the way of the workplace, we are typically characterized as being less “pushy” than previous generations while holding stronger convictions.
Millennials are now set to define a new generation of business leadership, moving through our thirties and assuming senior positions. The legal industry — known for its aversion to change and its tendency to cling to tradition (after all, lawyers were among the first to move from Word Perfect to Word!) — is not exempt from this leadership transformation. This should be unsurprising where millennials in the law now outnumber baby boomers and Gen Xers, accounting for 43 percent of attorneys. A recent survey by Cushman & Wakefield found that by 2025, over 50 percent of practicing attorneys in the U.S. will be millennials. Boomers and Xers are retiring, and with them is going the traditional, strictly hierarchical law firm structure.
Law firm culture has historically been about the big office with spectacular (and intimidating) view, the crushing hours and “face time” required to make partner and seeking symbols that you have “arrived.” Boomer-led firms lived and died by the “billable hour,” imposing exorbitant expectations on junior attorneys to churn revenue.
But the old model is, in many firms, being flipped on its head. Smart, hard-working but forward-thinking millennials are changing firm culture.