I have viewed many articles on social media discussing how to employ ‘Millennials’ therefore I felt the time has come to throw my thoughts into the ring. Many of the articles focus on the negativity surrounding the character traits of our so-called future of the legal sector but in reality this is happening here and now therefore this must be embraced.
When applied directly to the legal sector, time and time again I hear the same feedback from candidates who are seeking pastures new for reasons other than what you might first think. At first glance, many would believe that salary is the main motivator for movement within the sector but when we delve deeper, this is not the case. Millennials, defined as the generation who came to adulthood at the 21st Century, have a totally different set of motivators that would cause them to leave a firm or move to one where they felt their needs were better addressed.
As legal professionals there is a traditional view that employees must have a particular element of flexibility and expectation of working evenings and weekends to suit the demands of the workload. In my experience with candidates, when I pose the question of what type of firm they would like to work for, a focus on work/life balance is a common answer and many candidates reject the notion of working for certain organisations due to a reputation of "taking over their lives". If a law firm is not embracing this ethic of balance perhaps they are losing out on top talent as they are attracted to working somewhere that understands this better and actively encourages this approach to work.
Whilst a craving for career progression is not something limited to this generation in particular, its prominence as a main motivator to move roles is one that cannot be ignored. Fierce competitiveness is not uncommon in the legal sector but employees need to feel that if they work hard, they will be rewarded with career progression through the ranks. Firms that use the prospect of career progression as a key strength of working within that organisation will attract more talent to the table. It is also common for me to meet with candidates who say they have moved to actively pursuing a new role in the legal market as they have been overlooked for promotions or feel they have been stuck in a role for too long despite producing quality work. Millennials are not afraid of movement if they feel they are not valued within an organisation.
It has been my observation that many legal firms do not embrace technology as a way of streamlining operations or raising the profile of the firm and this has put candidates off working in certain firms as they see the practice of embracing technology as a positive. During my research of the legal market, many firms do not have a website or social media presence which many view as a negative. Embracing technology is seen as a way of making work more streamlined and in turn adding value to their work/life balance as well as improving communication and a flexible approach allowing some to work remotely from home adding value to the role.
Whilst a decent salary will always be in the back of any candidate’s mind, law firms need to re-evaluate their approach to the above factors to ensure they are attracting key talent in the market and not losing out to competitors. Many commentators on the concept of the ‘Millennial’ will elect to present such traits as negatives due to some conflict in expectations of previous generations but in my opinion they are indicators of the future of talent attraction in the legal sector and the firms who fully embrace this will not be left behind in the pursuit of the top legal talent.