The Ideal Law Firm For Generations X and Y
January 17, 2019 3:08 pm Published by Leave your thoughts

The Ideal Law Firm for Generations X and Y

Unfortunately, it’s a given fact that young lawyers, especially between 25 and 41, are constantly dropping out of objectively successful careers on their way to a potential partner position in big law firms. Therefore, we now want to take a closer look on the main reasons and how to prevent that from happening through giving advice on much needed improvement in the work space.


As suggested above, associates in their Thirties tend to choose to quit their positions at big player law firms in order to gain more of a work-life balance. This applies mostly to women, so that as a result females are strongly underrepresented at the top of law firms, leading to a gender gap, which very much should be averted.


Generation X and Y lawyers rather have more time to spend on their families, relationships, and  also their (future) children, than to sacrifice all their energy and their whole 10-12 hour day on a stressful, although well paid career. Studies actually do show that a higher life quality is much more important to them than a high income or huge annual bonuses. Partnership systems often suggest a 7 to 8 year career track, in which the pressure and work load constantly intensify throughout, until they achieve a prestigious partner position. But that doesn’t mean the hard work stops there. Especially in the top league law firms, partners have to produce an enormous amount of billable hours per month, so that even the achievement of that goal does not help them to spend their time on their private lives.


In order to have the possibility of part time work and more predictable hours, lots of associates leave their firms, after having paid off student loans with their big firm salaries, and start at smaller companies, nonprofit organizations or even as faculty members at law schools. Because of more reasonable workloads and more flexible time management there, they have now the possibility to start their own families, spend quality time with their kids and always have a family dinner together. A daily routine which is far from reality for most parents at big law firms.


Especially through granting more paternity leaves to their male employees, law firms would reduce the tremendously high departure numbers of talented and hardworking young female lawyers, who have no other option than to take care of their newborns or small children themselves. A procedure which constantly reduces the female rank at law firms and splits genders apart. Another important step would be to introduce more job sharing situations, in which colleagues cooperate on cases, which reduces the work load, responsibility and risk per person involved. That might lead to higher costs for the firm, but should nevertheless be a constructive option to minimize (expensive) mistakes on important legal matters through applying the 4 eye principle, and make the work environment in general more agreeable. Another solution would be the beforehand mentioned introduction of part time alternatives, which would, in the long run, surely decimate the stress and burn out rate, and therefore improve the overall performance rate of the company.


To sum up, it’s rather easy toprevent young and bright attorneys, and especially women, to go and leave theirlaw firms after only a few years, with the adaption of a few changes andimprovements. Those should be especially easy to implement at bigger firms,given their financial flexibility and employee resources. An open dialogue aboutthese topics, particularly in regard to the support of female lawyers, shouldin any case be kept ongoing.

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