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)