Arrested Development: What Do Modern Law Firm Associates Want Anyway?

There’s a lot in flux around the legal industry of late.  Work roles, places and preferences seem to be changing constantly.  Yet, law firms continue to require associates to move business forward.

Managing partners often think, in these instances, about what the law firm needs.  But, even if in an employer’s market, it pays to consider what your associates (and potential associates) actually do want – especially if you want those associates to stick around for a while, along with all the capital you’ve invested in them.

One of the major challenges of hiring is that those doing the hiring are often a generation (or more) removed from those they are hiring.  There’s lots of barriers there to begin with; and, most of those hiring partners are not going to take the time to learn more about candidate preferences.

So, let’s do a quick crash course on what millennial (and younger) employees want out of an associate position:

Flexibility. Especially with the massive amount of flexibility that has recently been handed to the entire workforce across the globe, it’s gonna be tough to rein this one back in.  Not only have employees felt for a while that they could do their jobs anywhere, that has now been categorically proven to be true.  Your younger employees want more control over their work schedules — and will get it from someone else, if you don’t offer it.

Feedback. Millennial and younger employees want consistent feedback.  That’s not, as most ‘boomers’ might think, equal to praise.  But, associates just want more feedback and input, in general.  While most traditional lawyers are tight-lipped, or only offer negative assessments, managing attorneys who want to hang on to good associates need to be more open about the pros and cons of their work. 

Professional Development Opportunities. It’s not all about the salary; hiring partners can trade that off for other benefits.  And so, if you want to keep millennial and younger associates in your firm, you’ll want to be aggressive about offering professional development opportunities that the firm pays for – not just one CLE a year.  And, you can get creative here: general business skills apply to lawyers, too.

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Want to hire?  We can help!

The Wyoming State Bar offers free law practice management consulting services through Red Cave Law Firm Consulting.

To request a consult, visit the Wyoming State Bar’s law practice management page, and start running your law firm like a business.

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