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Generation Y lawyers and changing expectations

Posted by: Laurence Simons 23/06/14

A recent report from the London Business School highlighted changing expectations and aims among Generation Y workers - that is, those born between the early 1980s to the early 2000s.

More than 37 per cent plan to stay no more than two years with their current employer, while 40 per cent said they start a new role with one eye already on a potential shift.

This can be read in a number of ways, casting younger employees as admirably organised and career-focused, or suggesting they are unwilling to remain loyal to one company despite the fact that this can sometimes be a good way of developing a career.

Given the drive on many lawyers to make partner, one would expect them to be less flitty than their counterparts in other business areas, but this may not be true.

Jessica Pryce-Jones, joint founder and partner of the iOpener Institute for People & Performance, told the Global Legal Post last year that firms need to be aware of the different motivating factors for Gen Y lawyers.

Because of their newfound job mobility, 'soft' metrics such as workplace satisfaction and comfort are becoming increasingly important. In other words, the remuneration levels involved in a legal career are no longer enough to motivate lawyers.

"Strategies can be put in place to improve happiness and well-being at work for young lawyers, with positive effects.  The first step is being able to recognise which precise factors are contributing to unhappiness, in order that they may be addressed," explained Ms Pryce-Jones.

Gen Y workers tend to express a desire to work at places that share their values - while this may simply represent youthful idealism it is still worth being aware of.

"One large international legal firm recently identified that it was losing young talent because these employees felt neither empowered nor respected in a firm they perceived as being mainly populated by white, heterosexual, middle-aged men in suits," explained the iOpener founder.