Think Millennials are a challenge? Here comes Generation Z.

Think Millennials are a challenge? Here comes Generation Z.

As we scan the business and law practice landscape, there is one segment that appears to be the most coveted and baffling. Of course, I’m talking about the Millennial generation, whose qualities and foibles are argued to be incredibly unique. To meet that generation, it is suggested, you need to relearn basic human interactions. And if you hope to engage that generation, entire paradigms must shift.

If you detect a touch of skepticism in my tone, you must possess a Boomer-trained sense of snark. And it’s true that my extensive interactions with Millennials tell me they seek transparency, candor, and generally less B.S. than previous generations may have been led to expect. Well, bully for them, to use an old-school phrase. (And bully for all of us older folks who agree with the Millennials on that.)

A free webinar on May 25 (1:00 pm EDT) will offer some insight into those colleagues who are of the younger generations. As organizers describe:

“One of the biggest challenges faced by business owners today is attracting and retaining great people. Millennials make up an enormous part of today’s workforce, and survey after survey finds that this generation values flexibility as much and sometimes more than compensation.”

Citrix Webinar Gene-Marks

Gene Marks

Columnist, author, business owner, and technology expert Gene Marks will cover:

  • How trends and regulations in minimum wage, paid time off, and overtime will impact your ability to find and motivate millennial employees.
  • The newest and innovative cloud based technologies that are helping companies of all sizes recruit, manage, compensate and make them more attractive to the millennial workforce.
  • The latest developments in healthcare reform that are most important to millennials and how smart employers are controlling their healthcare costs in 2016 while continuing to be competitive in the job market.

You can get more information and register here.

And in the meantime, I point you to three recent articles on communicating with younger colleagues, whether they be Millennials or in Gen Z. The first covers general best practices in communication.

The second two articles address challenges faced by bar associations and anyone who offers programming to a more demanding and (if you ask me) astute generation of attorneys. Thank you to Omnipress for sharing articles about offering education programs to Millennials in both continuing-education settings and in annual conferences.

Citrix Sharefile logo

This month: Free online learning from Citrix ShareFile

social media heart love

… but maybe it’s just me.

How do lawyers and social media go together? You’d think pretty well, but the mashup recipe is more complicated than that.

A recent survey explored lawyers’ views of that media so social, and there may be a few surprising findings. You can read the story related to the survey here.

(And what’s up with the lack of questions about blogging, which is probably the primary digital game-changer? In its defense, this survey appears to focus on social-media channels or tools, rather than content-generators like blogs. Maybe the next survey …?)

Here is one of the findings:

“Strategy. There’s a 12 percent gap between the two age groups when it comes to using social media as part of their marketing strategy—69 percent of over-30 lawyers say it’s in their strategy, compared to 57 percent of younger lawyers.”

Besides that, we see attorneys are also comfortable with Linkedin, which on the social media spectrum is a warm blanket and fuzzy slippers. (Not to be judgy or anything.)

Findings from a 2016 social media survey of lawyers (via Attorney at Work).

Findings from a 2016 social media survey of lawyers (via Attorney at Work).

And all of that definitely resonates with my own experience.

I have presented before to attorneys and law students on the topic of social media. I went in assuming young folks would yawn, knowing all this stuff. And I thought older attorneys would scoff or otherwise cast aspersions on the topic.

What I discovered, though—especially in relation to blogging—was quite the opposite.

Many of the younger people I spoke with spurned blogging, while the older folks had detailed questions to enhance their blogs’ reach.

I previously wrote about one such interaction here, and that has led me to adjust my thinking on the challenges faced by a younger generation of lawyers.

What I mean is, they have been bludgeoned for years with news stories making them fear that a single digital misstep can damn them for eternity to unemployment. As we know from other research, people who have slogged their way through economic downturns are understandably cautious about upsetting their financial apple-cart. And so we hear from large numbers of young legal professionals declining to blog or do much else online that is perceived as public.

Long term, I believe that’s an unfortunate result. For as we know, career strategy is just another term for differentiation—and blogging done well can differentiate you.

Do you hope to be a thought leader? Get out of your foxhole.

What do you find interesting in the survey results? Write to me at

Findings from a 2016 social media survey of lawyers (via Attorney at Work).

Findings from a 2016 social media survey of lawyers (via Attorney at Work).

Millennial Lawyers article June 2014 by Susan Daicoff

Do millennial lawyers have needs that are different from other generations?

That is a topic implicitly raised in an article posted online last week. Titled “Law firms prepare Millennials for the business of law,” it shares some tactics that have been developed at Arizona law firms to address a younger generation of attorneys.

Would you like to hear more about any of the strategies mentioned in the article? Let me know and I’ll try to pass on more news.

That article reminded me of a piece we published in Arizona Attorney this past year. It covered the millennial generation and how your law firm may be failing to meet their expectations (and yes; it matters). If you missed it, you can read it here.

If your article gets this many comments, you've clearly sparked a conversation (or shouting match). NYT Magazine boomerang kids story comments

If your article gets this many comments, you’ve clearly sparked a conversation (or shouting match).

Again with the millennials.

Forgive me for raising another story on the topic of this generation of new thinkers and doers. But a recent story in the New York Times Magazine—and some pushback it’s received—made me think there’s quite a bit more to say on the topic.

In the Times story, writer Adam Davidson (or the copyeditor) poked the millennial bear with a stick, starting with his headline: “It’s Official; The Boomerang Kids Won’t Leave.”

OK, so a little fun is OK, right? Here’s some content not far from the top of his piece:

“One in five people in their 20s and early 30s is currently living with his or her parents. And 60 percent of all young adults receive financial support from them. That’s a significant increase from a generation ago, when only one in 10 young adults moved back home and few received financial support. The common explanation for the shift is that people born in the late 1980s and early 1990s came of age amid several unfortunate and overlapping economic trends. Those who graduated college as the housing market and financial system were imploding faced the highest debt burden of any graduating class in history. Nearly 45 percent of 25-year-olds, for instance, have outstanding loans, with an average debt above $20,000. (Kasinecz still has about $60,000 to go.) And more than half of recent college graduates are unemployed or underemployed, meaning they make substandard wages in jobs that don’t require a college degree. According to Lisa B. Kahn, an economist at Yale University, the negative impact of graduating into a recession never fully disappears. Even 20 years later, the people who graduated into the recession of the early ’80s were making substantially less money than people lucky enough to have graduated a few years afterward, when the economy was booming. Some may hope that the boomerang generation represents an unfortunate but temporary blip … .

Intrigued? Offended? Read the whole thing here.

The article’s tone—and its pronouncements—may be why (at last count) the story had garnered 1,600+ comments. That’s one thousand six hundred. Millennials may be underemployed, but that means they’ll read all the way to the end of a 2,196-word article, and then take the time to vent some spleen.

I’ll get to those comments in a moment. For now, it’s worth noting that they ranged from a startlingly deep derision toward an entire class of adults, to deep anger toward the author, his approach and his tone.

Whatever you do, be sure to view the slideshow of photos by photographer Damon Casarez. He is clearly a talented shooter. But was there ever a more depressing assemblage of life stories captured on film (or digitally)?

Life lesson and note to self: If a features reporter ever wants to write on my inability to land a job and launch a career, just say no when the photographer offers to shoot my portrait amidst my dirty-laundry-strewn bed, or among my life’s detritus that now hoarder-clogs my parents’ living room.

Stage tragic images, much?

Want to know how irked millennials can get about the stereotypical coverage? Just compare the Time Magazine cover that inflamed many folks … with just one of the parodies launched by web-savvy millennials (and don’t miss the parody’s eyebrow-headlines):

Time Magazine cover Millennial Me Generation original and parody

Time’s (not-so) original cover (left) and the parody (right).

(Um, Time Magazine, these “kids” may be a lot of things, but one of their greatest strengths is being scary-talented enough to make digital fun of your aged butt. Just saying.)

So you’re eager (I know) for a legal angle, and here it is.

Start reading a great blog called “The Law School Tuition Bubble.” That’s where Matt Leichter, an attorney admitted in Wisconsin and New York, holds forth on topics related to the legal profession. (More about him here.)

As you might guess, he is not greatly impressed by the NYT piece. He is an adept reader (and critiquer), so you should read his entire response here.

But I was struck by one of his concluding lines, which indicts not just this article but much of the reportage on the millennial or any “younger” generation:

“The only question I’m left with is, ‘Has reporting on young adults ever not been infantilizing and uninformative?’”

What do you think? Do commentators and reporters do a disservice to a generation that, first, must adjust to an economy nearly bankrupted by a generation not their own, and second, that now must suffer the additional indignity of being labeled lazy, or worse?

Finally, I promised to share a few of the NYT’s article’s comments. Here they are:

One commenter:

“When college costs three times what it did in 1970, adjusted for inflation (and that’s public and private school), and minimum wage is less than half what it was in 1970, adjusted for inflation, I find the term ‘Boomerang kids’ insulting. These aren’t kids, they are young adults facing the worst recession since the 1930s and living through the modern-day Dust Bowl. Nobody lectured people in the era of the Grapes of Wrath about how they should just ‘grow up.’”


“I’m somewhat annoyed by the Times’ (and others’) insinuation that if a young person lives at home after college, he or she has somehow failed at becoming a real and responsible adult. When you have heavy student loans and work at an entry-level position, it may actually be a mark of financial responsibility to live with your parents for at least a year or two while you work and build up your savings. I would love to see more stories about young people in their 20s and 30s living at home without the underlying tone of judgment that just because these people live with their parents, they have somehow failed at becoming adults.”

And finally:

“The comments about how this is normal in other (low and middle income) countries, and how it’s probably the fault of individual young people who didn’t major in science are equal parts infuriating and hilarious. Someone hasn’t looked for science jobs lately! Memo to the millennials: Older generations don’t care and they’re not going to try to help. These comments are proof of that. So, either get involved in politics or resign yourself to a substantially lower standard of living than your parents had. Or both.”

Millennial Lawyers article June 2014 by Susan Daicoff

A few months ago, I was in conversation with a law school communications pro. She mentioned that a professor may be able to write an article on millennial lawyers. Would we be interested?

An article about younger lawyers, who are facing a nearly unprecedented bad economy? Who grew up and were schooled in ways distinctly different than their more-senior colleagues? Who will be inheriting and transforming the legal profession?

Hmmm …. Absolutely. Send it over and let’s talk.

She did, and we did. After some back and forth, we had what I suspected would be an extremely a valuable article for readers.

That article is in our June issue of Arizona Attorney Magazine. You can read it here.

Susan Daicoff

Susan Daicoff

The talented author is Professor Susan Daicoff; read more about her here.

Susan’s story is great reading for a few reasons, but what I especially appreciate are the specific takeaways she offers about a generation of professionals. But she is no cold-eyed anthropologist, examining these folks under a microscope. Instead, she displays her affection for them and her optimism for the profession under their evolving leadership.

Apparently, others see what we saw: We’re now up to two other magazines around the country that asked to reprint Susan’s article. It’s terrific to see good stuff get “out there.”

A realist, I’m still waiting for the other shoe to drop—a little one, anyway. What I wonder is this: Are there any millennial attorneys who resist being described and pigeonholed, who feel less identical to their own generation than to another that preceded it?

After all, even among generational waves of lawyers, we’re all individuals. So if your millennial experience varies from Susan’s description, I’d like to know.

Write to me at