Millennials

Keith Lee

There seems to be a general lament among the elder generation of lawyers in regards to the quality of new law school graduates. Simultaneously, there is also a cacophony of complaints from recent law school graduates about the general state of the legal profession and the dissonance between what they felt they should have received from their law school education. See all the assorted “scamblawgs.”

The older generation’s complaint seems to be that Gen Y grads are, well, complaining too much. Gen Y needs to strap on their big-boy (or girl) pants and get on with it.

Gen Y grads seem to be saying they just haven’t been given the opportunity…

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Law school applications are down. It looks like the Millennials just don’t want to go to law school. It’s probably because they’re too busy be lazy and texting, amirite?

Or, if we’re not going to jump on lazy stereotypes that have been passed down from generation to generation since Maynard G. Krebs roamed the Earth, maybe there’s something wrong with the way that law schools approach education and the Millennials just happen to be the generation that inherited the sluggish job market that exposed the festering problems within the legal academy.

Many law schools have suggested that more “practice ready” clinical education is the solution. Elie thinks this is basically a marketing gimmick. I think it’s a valuable complement to legal education, but certainly not a replacement for other reforms.

But maybe the answer is not so much about making “practice ready” students, but making “practice ready” professors….

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* After 22 years of dedicated service, William K. Suter, the clerk of the U.S. Supreme Court, will be retiring come August. Now don’t get too excited about that, it’s not really a job you can apply for; you have to be appointed, so keep dreaming. [Blog of Legal Times]

* A Biglaw hat trick of labor deals: if you’re looking for someone to thank for bringing a tentative ending to the management-imposed NHL lock-out, you can definitely reach out to this group of lawyers from Skadden Arps and Proskauer Rose. [Am Law Daily]

* “Thanks for helping us out, but you can go f**k yourself.” AIG, a company that was bailed out by the government, is now considering suing the government with its shareholders. [DealBook / New York Times]

* Apparently there’s such a thing as the “Nick Saban Corporate Compliance Process.” And as we saw from last night’s game, that process involves efficiency, execution, and raping the competition. [Corporate Counsel]

* Guess who’s back in court representing himself in a racketeering trial? None other than Paul Bergrin, “the baddest lawyer in the history of Jersey.” Jury duty for that could be a fun one. [WSJ Law Blog (sub. req.)]

* Too bad last night’s football game between Alabama and Notre Dame wasn’t played by their law schools. In that case, the final score on factors like tuition, enrollment, and employment would’ve been a tie. [HusebyBuzz]

* This just in: when studying for the LSAT, you should focus on scoring the best you can. This is actual advice that the future law students of America need to hear. [Law Admissions Lowdown / U.S. News & World Report]

Good job… at ruining America.

I generally try to defend Millennials in these pages. They might seem like texting-obsessed kids, but we need to cut them some slack. Because they had the American economy pulled out from under them just as they tried to start their adult lives. You just wait, when these guys are 40, they’ll be telling their kids stories of the “Great Recession” and how patience and frugality are chief virtues. They might be telling their kids those stories in Chinese, but still.

But we do have our occasional disagreements. I think the special snowflake syndrome plagues this generation; they’re so obsessed with their own social-media fueled individuality that they tend to think things like statistics don’t apply to them. Part of that is being young; part of that is being dumb.

And part of that is that Millennials, as a group, seem to need compliments in order to function like normal humans. They want you to LIKE THEIR STATUS and retweet their banter with an inane “lol.” If you don’t give them gushing praise, they take it as a criticism. And if you actually criticize them, well damn, you might as well be questioning their entire existence and telling them to kill themselves.

Yesterday, I saw something that takes “gushing praise” to a new, disgusting, saccharine level. And it’s coming from law schools….

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I was in Atlantic City this weekend (shout-out to my Rutgers Law homies), so I missed the fascinating story in the New York Times about the “The Go-Nowhere Generation,” until the ABA Journal brought it up yesterday. In a nutshell, the piece suggests that the terrible economy has broken the already questionable will of the Millennial generation and turned them into risk-averse homebodies. Statistically, this generation of young people is less likely to leave home, leave jobs, or take professional risks.

Does that mean these Millennials are more likely to end up being lawyers? Maybe even more likely to end up as Biglaw lawyers? Because nothing says “risk-averse person willing to hang on to a crappy job for a long time because he can’t think of anything better to do” than “of-counsel” at a major law firm.

In fact, if these statistics are true, we might see a deluge of would-be lawyers continue once the children raised during this economy come of age….

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Over the 13 years I ran Shepherd Law Group, I employed lawyers of varying ages. I had fortysomethings (full disclosure: I’m 43, although I really don’t look a day over 42), I had thirtysomethings, and I had twentysomethings. This last group, the so-called Millennials, were almost a completely different species. For example, in law school, these newbies click-clacked on laptops in the classroom — even during exams. They communicated with law professors using the email. And they had no idea what a mix tape was.

In practice, it turns out that they work differently, too. I remember walking into the office of one of my newer Millennials when she was working on a summary-judgment brief. Her desk looked like the desk of any brief-writing lawyer, with files and cases and books all over it. But what really struck me was her computer desktop. It must have had 20 windows open, many with tabs hiding other screens.

But at least one of the screens was Facebook, and another was an instant-messaging client. I could see that the IM screen was showing an active conversation. Another screen showed Pandora, which was streaming music I didn’t recognize (it was Portishead) at a reasonably low volume.

I was stunned. How could she get the brief done with all these distractions?

So what did I do about it?

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