IndyBar: Arrested Development: What Do Modern Law Firm Associates Want, Anyway?

Jared Correia

By Jared Correia, IndyBar Law Practice Management Consultant, Red Cave Legal Consulting

There’s a lot in flux around the legal industry of late. Work roles, places and preferences seem to be changing constantly. Yet, law firms continue to require associates to move business forward.

Managing partners often think in these instances about what the law firm needs. But even in an employer’s market, it pays to consider what your associates (and potential associates) actually do want — especially if you want those associates to stick around for a while along with all the capital you’ve invested in them.

One of the major challenges of hiring is that those doing the hiring are often a generation (or more) removed from those they are hiring. There are lots of barriers there to begin with, and most of those hiring partners are not going to take the time to learn more about candidate preferences.

So, let’s do a quick crash course on what millennials (and younger) employees want out of an associate position:

Flexibility. Especially with the massive amount of flexibility that has recently been handed to the entire workforce across the globe, it’s going to be tough to rein this one back in. Not only have employees felt for a while that they could do their jobs anywhere, that has now been categorically proven to be true. Your younger employees want more control over their work schedules — and will get it from someone else if you don’t offer it.

Feedback. Millennials and younger employees want consistent feedback. That’s not equal to praise. Associates just want more feedback and input in general. While most traditional lawyers are tight-lipped or only offer negative assessments, managing attorneys who want to hang on to good associates need to be more open about the pros and cons of their work.

Professional development opportunities. It’s not all about the salary. Hiring partners can trade that off for other benefits. So if you want to keep millennials and younger associates in your firm, you’ll want to be aggressive about offering professional development opportunities that the firm pays for — not just one CLE a year. You can get creative here: General business skills apply to lawyers, too.•

Want to hire? We can help! The IndyBar offers FREE law practice management consulting services through Red Cave Law Firm Consulting. To request a consult visit indybar.org/lpm and start running your law firm like a business.

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