Millennials are shaping workplaces with preferences for flexible arrangements, access to advanced technology, and high diversity and inclusion standards, experts say. And if business leaders decide to swim against that current, they risk losing out on talent and innovation.
Millennials, who this year are projected to overtake baby boomers as the largest U.S. adult population, are enjoying historically low unemployment rates and aren't afraid to speak out about their expectations.
The working style of the generation, which is defined by the Pew Research Center as anyone born between 1981 and 1996, continues to shift office dynamics, and experts say the law firms and in-house departments best suited for future growth are those that embrace change.
From her experience working with associates, Michelle Fivel, a partner at legal recruiting firm Major Lindsey & Africa LLC, or MLA, said millennials' demands for fostering a work-life balance and more flexible approaches aren't significantly different from those of older generations. "But they are making the conversation less taboo," she said.
Susanna McDonald, chief legal officer at the Association of Corporate Counsel, agreed.
"Millennials are not afraid to speak out about what they want," she said. "They believe they can effect change, which I think is getting you halfway there."
On panels and in studies, experts continue to urge legal industry leaders to ditch traditional, rigid constraints to make lawyers happier and offices more attractive to younger generations.
An MLA survey published in April found that more than half of the millennial lawyers surveyed believed the law firm business model is "fundamentally broken."