Millennials are ruining everything—or so people say. From napkins to golf to restaurant chains, millennials are leaving behind a trail of industry corpses in their wake as they ride past on their bicycles, S'well water bottles in hand. (Don't know what a S'well water bottle is? Ask your nearest millennial.)
And the next target in their sights is Big Law.
In a battle of wills in Big Law, law firm management has started to bend to millennial demands. Firms have begun to craft and adopt policies to cater to these new members of the legal profession.
In the process, they are casting aside old traditions synonymous with the industry. Firms are swapping out corner offices for collaborative spaces. Large oak desks are now motorized standing desks. Paneled walls are now glass. While these changes might be aesthetic, they are indicative of the very real need for Big Law to bridge the gap between the older models of legal practice and the demands of the profession's future standard-bearers.
By making changes to satisfy their youngest talent, law firms may be making the management changes they've needed all along. Are millennials the answer to some of Big Law's thorniest problems?
Born between the early 1980s and early 2000s, millennials have remained an ever-elusive, label-defying generation who are, by all accounts, turning the legal profession on its head. "Millennials are cut from a different cloth, says Ru Bhatt, managing director at Major, Lindsey & Africa. "In generations past, you kind of came in, put your head down and didn't rock the boat—'This is the system and this is how it works,'" Bhatt says.
However, as millennials enter and rise through the ranks of Big Law, they're exposing the inefficiencies of its structures, Bhatt says, in a way that may help develop a better working system and a better working model.