Are You Ready for Gen Z Lawyers?

June 28, 2021

Law firms are eager to recruit top Gen Z talent these days — in fact, the competition for associates is fierce, and firms are offering the kinds of incentives they used to reserve for lateral hires. Of course money talks, but firms will need to look beyond compensation to win the bidding wars for these up-and-coming attorneys. Knowing what ranks high on a Gen Z associate’s list of priorities is crucial. What really matters to them?

Members of Gen Z are like millennials in that they’re seeking flexibility and purpose in their work. Yet the incentives that enticed their millennial predecessors may not go far enough to win Zs over. A recent survey by global legal executive search firm Major, Lindsey & Africa sheds light on the ways in which Gen Z “hold the extreme version of millennial views.” Respondents born between 1995 and 2000, the oldest of the Z cohort, are looking for even more work flexibility and customized schedules. More than any other generation, they want to choose how they work and also gain meaning and purpose from their jobs.

For instance:

  • Roughly 60% would prefer to work fully flexible schedules both in and outside of the office. 
  • Around 20% said they would prefer set remote workdays.
  • 52% said they would take a pay cut to have geographic flexibility.

Yet this doesn’t mean Gen Z attorneys want to do all their work remotely. A mere 6% said they want to work on a fully remote basis. That’s because while these young professionals appreciate flexibility, they also understand that working remotely might limit their access to opportunity.

  • Roughly 28% said mentorship was a concern.
  • 32% worried about difficulties acclimating into their group. 
  • 23% said lack of training is a challenge.

For Gen Z attorneys, it’s about balance. Flexibility for them doesn’t mean working from home all the time. It’s about having the freedom to choose when to do so. Many still want the option to work in a law firm to gain the benefit of mentorship and skills training.

If you are an Elderlennial, Gen Xer or Boomer who finds yourself rolling your eyes and sighing, “OK, Zoomer,” we hear you. Our own early-career experiences were likely far different in all kinds of ways, and it may be tempting to dismiss Gen Z’s expressed preferences about the workplace. But law firms ignore this information at their peril. To appeal to the best and brightest young legal minds, and to win the competition for talent, firms will have to make changes to their policies and practices that deliver a new experience for a new generation.