Move over, millennials, there’s a new kid looming on the legal beat.
Seemingly born with smartphones in hand, Generation Z is a generation of digital natives. Its members grew up alongside the internet, and technology has been a part of their lives from the very beginning. They may share some characteristics with their millennial counterparts, including a commitment to social justice, but the next crop of lawyers will present unique challenges for their future employers. With the oldest members of Generation Z currently making their way through law school, life in Big Law is on the horizon. Are law firms ready?
Although there’s no official date for when Generation Z begins, the Pew Research Center generally defines the members of Gen Z as those born in or after 1997 (some others have moved up that admittedly arbitrary benchmark to 1995). The generational boundary gives members of Gen Z one major distinguishing characteristic: their connection to technology.
“[Law firms] are trying to make inroads to become more diverse to reflect their clients and meet client demands,” says Michelle Fivel, a partner at legal recruiting firm Major, Lindsey & Africa.
As the youngest generation enters the legal profession, Gen Zers will continue to be a hot-button issue, Fivel says. The upheaval they’ll bring with them translates into power for job candidates at big firms, and they could help Big Law solve its endemic diversity problem, she adds.
Just as they did with millennials, large firms will be confronted with their future and that of the profession over the next few years. By understanding what drives the burgeoning generation of legal professionals, Big Law can ensure that it’s ready to rise to the challenge.