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Face time. It’s really just about control, isn’t it? Even if there isn’t work to be done, the boss demands that you be there, sitting at your desk, watching the minutes of your life tick away. The boss is paying you, and therefore believes he deserves you until late. How late? Late enough to prove your commitment to the company. Work Saturdays? You bet, at least half a day. Note to employers: this rubs Generation Y the wrong way.
My previous post didn’t really go into much detail in this regard, but this “face time” issue was another aspect of the InsideCounsel Superconference that didn’t make much sense.
Here’s how it went:
“We don’t mind working late, or even all night if we have to. We just don’t want to come in to work on Saturdays if there isn’t work to do,” said Faten Dabis an attorney who had left the practice of law- she was admittedly not from Gen-Y, but a Gen X-er.
“You should be coming in Saturday looking for work to do.” Commented Dan Hull, partner at Hull McGuire PC.
“I can’t stand this attitude coming from Generation Y, they will work late only if they are convinced it is important or necessary.” Scott Greenfield, panel member and criminal defense attorney added.
I think that is the disconnect. Generation Y wants their life to mean something. They want to handle work that is significant, and they certainly don’t want to crank out the billable hours reviewing non-urgent documents on a Saturday afternoon just to line the pockets of the otherwise wealthy partners.
The attitude in years past to this sort of brazen attitude by young lawyers would have been, “tough sh**, deal with it.” Bosses, you should realize you could get away with that in the past, but I am going to let you in on a little secret.
WE AREN’T AFRAID OF YOU ANYMORE
We can start our own firm, build our own company, or go work for someone that knows how to motivate us. We are the largest demographic since the boomers, and you raised us to fear nothing, and for that we thank you. Learn to live with us, or learn to live without us- either way, once you are long gone or retired, we will run this country.
By Ashby Jones
â€œWe are not motivated by money. At least not as much as our parents were. The currency we are most interested in is lifestyle. Some of us are brilliant and hard working, but you have to dangle the right carrot in front of us.â€
â€“ New York lawyer and Member of Generation Y, Adrian Dayton
â€œGeneration Y is entitled, lazy, selfish, tech savvy, and incompetent.â€
â€“ New York lawyer and not-Member of Generation Y, Scott Greenfield
Weâ€™re tempted to end this post right here; just with these two provocative, self-assured and overall awesome quotes. But, for the sake of discussion, letâ€™s flesh it all out a bit.
A Chicago conference for in-house lawyers earlier this month â€” called the InsideCounsel SuperConference â€” featured a panel discussion on the issue of the so-called Millennials â€” or Gen Y-ers â€” folks born between the early 1980s and 2000. The eldest of this demographic have been entering the legal workforce for a couple years now, to decidedly mixed reviews. The pros seem to be that theyâ€™re bright, well-educated, aware, and know their way around things like Twitter. The perceived cons: theyâ€™re privileged, coddled, and carry egos unjustified by their yet unimpressive accomplishments.
The panel discussion was pitched thusly:
Dealing With Gen-Y @ Work
They donâ€™t play by the same set of workplace rules as their boomer parents did. Their sense of entitlement and refusal to follow corporate dictates blindly – not to mention a couple of tattoos or piercings, – make them very different than their colleagues. The flip side is they bring a tremendous energy to their work and are more tuned-in to the world around them than the previous generation was. How do you deal with this new breed, and create an environment in which they can thrive?
In any event, the panel was reportedly lively â€” a shorthanded version of how it all went down is captured here, by Dayton. Our favorite reported quotes come from Greenfield, the author of the consistently good Simple Justice blog, who cast off this gem: â€œGeneration Y uses this term life-balance as an excuse for their incompetence.â€
A voice on the other side came from Anthony Zana, an in-house lawyer at Intergraph Corp.: â€œIâ€™ve seen too many successful partners on their 3rd and 4th marriage- and I did not want that to be me. . . . Even the ABA reports that depression, suicide, divorce, and alcoholism rates are higher for attorneys that work those types of hours.â€ (Sounds like Zanaâ€™s a bit older than your average Gen Y-er, but he gets across that side of the debate.)
As much fun as weâ€™re prone to have with this, the debate really crystallizes around a few serious questions: Despite all the talk of work/life balance, can the practice of law lend itself to balance? If so, might Gen Y-ers be able to forge some change in the way itâ€™s practiced â€” and in lawyersâ€™ happiness quotient? If not, whoâ€™s going to fill the ranks at the top of the law-firm pyramid? In other words, whoâ€™s going to be the next John Quinn â€” who got ripped by some readers in this blog post?
(Keep up with Adrian Dayton by joining the Rainmaker Revolution)
The number 1 reason people don’t “get” Twitter is that they don’t know what to talk about.Â This quick one minute video will show you how to jump in and engage without looking like a rookie.
Tweet-up: when people following each other on Twitter meet in real life.
Now we have all heard of the tweet-up, and the truth is it gets a bad rap in most places.Â Why?Â Well it usually end up being a group of the technophiles in the area that aren’t exactly prospective clients.Â So how can we throw tweet-ups that bring people together to help make us more money with our business and build valuable relationships?
When it comes to a tweet up, it is all about quality over quantity.Â For example I was able to throw a tweet-up in Chicago two weeks ago while I was in town for the InsideCouncil Superconference.Â This was a perfect place to have a focused tweet-up with general council, lawyers, lawyers coaches, and other people in my industry all in the same building.Â I was able to meet prominent bloggers like Reese Morrison, Ed Post (the mysterious man behind Blawgreview), and a number of others – including Karen Carielo, one of the organizers of the event.Â It was all orchestrated over Twitter, with personal reminders to people as I met them throughout the conference.
How did I find people that were interested?Â I started by setting up some searches.Â I used tweetdeck to search, but you could really use search.twitter.com or any other search to monitor people talking about the event.Â Each time somebody mentioned the Superconference, I sent an @reply to the person and suggested they join in for the tweet-up.Â Did they ALL come? No, but many of them did.Â They are at a conference- what else is there to do?Â We all met up for drinks at the hotel bar.Â It was a huge success, and I have kept in touch with a number of the participants since then.
This is my favorite part of the tweet-up, everyone pays for their own drinks.Â Its really just like online social media.Â The only cost is your time.Â So give it a try, the next conference you attend, or the next time your in a big city- throw your own tweet-up.Â If anybody has any other pointers on throwing tweet-ups, please share them.
Question:Â When is the next tweet-up?
Answer:Â I am throwing a tweet-up this Wednesday 5/20 at 6:30 PM at Figero in NYC at 26 West 44th Street
New York, NY 10036
COME CHECK IT OUT!
If you would like to learn more about the Rainmaker Revolution- Click Here
I’d like to step back for a second from the controversial topics of billable hours and the juvenile behavior of generation Y and tell you about something a little more inspiring.Â Back in March a group of 16 volunteers (myself included) began an experiment.Â We call it the Virtues Experiment, and those of you that have been following me for longer than a few weeks know that I have written a manuscript called the Year of 12 Virtues.
I wanted to share a few of the great goals that members of the virtue experiment came up with this month to help them live their lives with more gratitude.
Amberly:Â There is a song by Darius Rucker entitled, “It won’t be like this for long” that has sparked my focus for the month of gratitude.Â I have been trying to “be” in the moment more with my children, realizing that they won’t be like this forever and that I need to do better and enjoying this precious time I have with them.Â I get caught up in wishing time away, anticipating what is to come rather than being grateful for the experiences we could be having right now.The action this month is to enjoy at least one activity with my children each week that is just us, creating a great experience.Â It may be planned, it may not… this week we dropped everything at the last minute to play at the splash pad for a couple of hours, without any other friends, giving me the opportunity to be grateful for the little people my children are turning into and this time I have with them.I don’t feel like I explained that very clearly, but hopefully you get the point…
Renee: It’s difficult being a care-taker for someone with a chronic disease
and still maintain a good view on life.Â So this month I am going to write down in my Journal at least one thing a week I am grateful for. (As well as saying, “Thank YOU God for Your provisions,”)
Working on this in every situation, come Clouds or lots of Joy.
Ryan: My goal for the month of gratitude is to spend 10 minutes writing in my journal every night about what I was grateful for from that day.
Susan: Gratitude is something I have, but am not very good at expressing.Â Â I have determined to send at least one thank you note every week for the rest of the year.Â It is a habit I want to have and I know it is just a part of the character I want in my life.Â How grateful I am for so many who help me accomplish my goals and are an example to me.Â I feel I need more than a month to work on this one.
Practicing virtues is a lifelong process, and I hope that the goals and challenges that we make each month can stick with us long after the month is over.
Sallee:Â Iâ€™m excited about the month of gratitude.Â I feel pretty strongly that gratitude is something that changes the way we look at the world.Â Currently in my life Iâ€™ve been struggling being able to be grateful for many of the things I have especially when it comes to work.Â Iâ€™ve taken on a second job for a few hours a week and while Iâ€™m really grateful to have it (great resume builder) but I tend to get really stressed out by it.
My full-time job is the same way.Â Instead of being grateful that I have a full time job, I get stressed by things that happen there.Â I also feel like I get so busy trying to fit everything in (gym time, garden time, time with my husband, time to relax) that I forget to be grateful that my life affords all of those different kinds of time. I mean really, how great is it that I get to spend at least 1 night a week working in the garden with my husband?Â Pretty awesome.Â Not everyone gets that.
So this month I want to work on appreciating what I have instead of having it stress me out. I havenâ€™t figured out how Iâ€™m going to measure it yet but Iâ€™m driving my best friend to her new home in Washington DC this week and youâ€™ll definitely have a measuring tool back from me on Sunday.
Rachel: I’m going to write in my gratitude journal every night.Â (I haven’t been very good about it the last few months.)
Tiffany: Don’t know if you want our goals yet, but I have already made mine for gratitude.Â I have a blog that I stared a long time ago.Â It was kind of like a gratitude blog and I just started it for myself.Â Here’s the site
I am going to post on it everyday things that I am grateful for.Â I hope that this helps me complain a lot less.Â I feel like such a negative person lately and I hope that looking for the good will help.Â This is another goal that I have to be proactive about so we will see how it goes.Â I don’t mind if you post my blog on your site, in fact, maybe you should, that way I HAVE to do it!
What are you grateful for this month?Â Renee suggested that I start using a hashtag #gratitude on Twitter and invite others to say what they are grateful for.Â I think its a great idea, so I invite all of you to share what you are grateful for- and I will do the same for the rest of the month.
Its interesting, arguing with Scott Greenfield this last week about Gen-Y made me realize I am grateful I did not become a litigator.Â On a certain level arguing and good discussion is very enjoyable to me- but I don’t want my life to be spent arguing.Â I hope for something more.
“The hourly rate exists because lawyers and clients are lazy” –David Boies (David Boies is Chairman of Boies, Schiller & Flexner LLP and is widely regarded as one of the nation’s preeminent trial lawyers.)
Imagine for a second that you drop your car off at the mechanic to get it fixed and the man in coveralls says to you,
“Please make a down payment of $500 for me to start work on your car.Â It may cost even more, but I’m not making any promises.Â It could even cost as much as $2,000, and after you have paid up- the car still may not run.Â Sound good?”
That is pretty much how lawyers’ current billable hour model works.Â There are two major problems with the model.Â First, the companies that hire attorneys hate it because they have no idea what they will end up paying.Â Second, the associates that actually do most of the legal work have no incentive to hurry, and will be criticized if they solve the problem too quickly.Â Â So why are we still using the billable hour model?Â Oh that’s easy, its the most profitable model for the partners- and its the way its been done for over a century.Â This reminds me of the keynote by David Boies, at last week’s Superconference put on by InsideCounsel:
Lawyers don’t ask “Whats the best way?” they instead ask “What has been done in the past?”
While this unfortunately seems to be the case, tough economic times are creating more demanding clients, and in turn, pushing forward thinking law firms to re-think the way they do business.Â Where do they start?Â Here are some great suggestions for alternatives to the billable hour that were suggested at last week’s Superconference.Â
1.Â Incentive Arrangements
The General Counsel from Centerpointe provided some excellent recommendations that have worked very well for their firms.Â They use a tiered system that works in the following way.Â Attorneys keep track of their billable hours and upon completion of the matter they use a three tiered system:
tier 1:Â 75% of billable rate is paid if the client is not satisfied with the work.
tier 2: 100% of billable rate is paid if the client is satisfied.
tier 3: 125% of billable rate is paid if the client is more than pleased.
Just think about how great this is, suddenly there is incentive to do a great job.Â This boosts moral for the underlings (associates), it create incentive in the right place (the client) and it changes the way the game is played.
2.Â Hire Boutique Firms
Boutique firms are hungry for the work, and are willing to change their model for the right client. Â The GC from Centerpointe added that if they go with a big firm, they don’t allow junior associates to do ANY of the work on their files.Â Good for them, why should they pay $300 an hour for an attorney that knows less about research than the paralegals?Â They have reported that every single firm has complied with their request.Â If you are a GC, why wouldn’t you ask for the same treatment?Â Should the junior associates be learning on your dime?
3.Â Alternative Fee Arrangements
In this incentive based model there are bonuses awarded for dismissal or dismissal without class certification and a variety of other combinations.Â This won’t work every time, but according to the panelist: “This engendered enthusiasm- excitement for the goal.”Â How often do we hear that at law firms?Â Wouldn’t you love for all your attorneys to be excited and enthusiastic?
4.Â Take Bids Every Time
There was a time when companies used the same outside firm for all their matters.Â The times are changing.Â One GC on the panel said that for more straightforward matters they will put them out to bid every time.Â They also request all the work be done by mid-level associates.Â This way they know they are getting experienced attorneys- but won’t have to pay the high billable hour rates of the senior partners.
5.Â Offer Trial Experience at 1/2 the billable rate
The Centerpointe GC mentioned a new program they had started where certain tort matters would be taken all the way to trial- every time.Â To make this cost effective they would bid the project out at 50% of the billable rate.Â Now this wasn’t a lot of money for the firms, but it provided them a way to give experience to their associates.Â This ended up saving the company substantially; not just because of the decrease in trial expenses, but there was a marked decline in tort actions once it was know that every one would be taken to trial.
These may not be the best solutions or alternatives to the billable hour- but they are a great start.Â The billable hour is a dinosaur, and its time is up.Â Any other suggestions?Â Please feel free to share them here.