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Millennial Lawyers Want Partnership on Different Terms, Survey Finds

Meghan Tribe LAW.COM

Despite their heavily analyzed generational differences, a new study finds that millennial lawyers still have their eye on law firm partnership more than any other long-term goal.

A survey conducted by Major, Lindsey & Africa in conjunction with legal news website Above the Law found that 40 percent of millennials surveyed expected to become a partner within the next 10 years, including 27.7 percent who saw themselves making partner at their current firm.

The next-highest percentage of respondents—17.5 percent—were looking to land an in-house role within a decade.

The study collected responses from more than 1,200 Above the Law readers who were associates and partners at U.S. law firms.

The researchers found that even though partnership was still the top goal among respondents, millennials still remain critical of law firm culture and the Big Law business model.

Over 50 percent of lawyers surveyed agreed that the law firm business model is “fundamentally broken.” But they are optimistic in their ability to change it, with 62 percent agreeing that millennials are transforming law firm policies and culture for the better.

“There’s no question that this generation operates differently than their predecessors, and the law firms that are best situated for future growth are the ones that are open to changing the status quo,” Ru Bhatt, managing director of Major Lindsey’s associate practice group, said in a statement.

The study also broke down responses by gender and found telling differences between men and women.

Forty-five percent of women strongly agreed that law firm culture is sexist, while only 14 percent of millennial men agreed. Over 56 percent of millennial women strongly agreed that there is a gender pay gap, while only 18 percent of their male counterparts thought so.

Women also prioritized diversity and inclusion, with 63 percent strongly agreeing that a diverse and inclusive workforce should be a priority. Only 37 percent of men agreed with that statement.

“The people that are ostensibly the victims of a sexist workplace or inequities in the workplace are the ones that are caring most about it,” said Major Lindsey partner Michelle Fivel. “I think it’s all about perspective. If the men aren’t feeling it then it makes sense that they’re not reporting that they’re seeing that in the environment.”

As in years past, work-life balance was a top priority for millennial lawyers. Nearly 75 percent said they would trade a portion of their compensation for either a flexible work schedule, more time off, or a cut in billable hours.

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