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‘Workplace 2020’ Reveals Experiences, Expectations of Gen Y Attorneys
Each year, more than 15,000 Generation Y attorneys enter the workforce.

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE August 6, 2013   Contact: Diane Nowak-Waring
Court Blatchford
410-626-0805 mediarelations@mcca.com

 


‘Workplace 2020’ Reveals Experiences, Expectations of Gen Y Attorneys

 
Each year, more than 15,000 Generation Y attorneys enter the workforce. They join legal practices dominated by older attorneys, and generational differences sometimes lead to misunderstanding and conflict.
 
A new study released by the Minority Corporate Counsel Association (MCCA) seeks to help the legal profession better understand this rising generation. Workplace 2020: What Gen Y Attorneys Experience & Expect is an exploration of the legal workplace from the perspective of Gen Y attorneys, also known as Millennials, consisting of people born after 1980. The full report may be viewed on the MCCA website: www.mcca.com/research.
 
“Millennials bring a distinct set of perspectives and values to the legal workforce,” said Joseph K. West, MCCA President and CEO. “This report highlights the importance of law firms and departments understanding what Millennials bring to the table to take advantage of their strengths and minimize friction caused by generational differences.”
 
Workplace 2020 surveyed 938 Gen Y attorneys to explore their experiences and expectations through their own eyes. The survey focused on five key areas of the Gen Y workplace experience: 1) selecting an employer, 2) attachments to their employer and aspirations, 3) experiences and expectations for the use of technology, 4) experiences and expectations for the workplace, workday, and work style, and 5) the value of diversity and inclusion. 
 
The findings of this study illustrate that Gen Y experiences and expectations for the legal workplace are complex and not always reflective of the stereotypes affixed to this generation. 
 
Selecting An Employer: Respondents identified five factors, in order of importance, as most critical to their decision: 
  • Geographical location
  • The opportunity to do meaningful/satisfying work
  • The opportunity to work with great colleagues
  • Learning/training opportunities 
  • The opportunity to learn from proven experts/leaders.  
 
While this ranking represents the average perspective, there were notable differences for minority and women respondents. For example, learning and training opportunities were ranked as having greater importance than the opportunity to work with great colleagues. 
 
Attachments and Aspirations: Gen Y attachment to their employer was tenuous and more indicative of short-term career choices than long-term career decisions. The overwhelming majority of respondents were not planning to stay with their employer for more than five years, with higher percentages of minorities and women planning to stay less than five years. 
 
Experiences and Expectations for the Use of Technology in Communication/ Professional Development: A significant portion of respondents expressed frustration and dissatisfaction with the underutilization of technology, especially within the context of informal professional development. The majority, across all groups, reported feeling that their workplaces did not use technology as an informal communication tool for feedback, training, and professional development.
 
Experiences and Expectations of the Workplace, Workday, and Work Style: According to Gen Y attorneys, the factors that would best maximize their productivity at work include:
  • Flexibility with the place and time of work
  • Individual office space 
  • An informal work culture
Respondents also indicated that the following would most likely have a positive impact on their work experience: 
  • Increased compensation
  • Increased and better mentoring by senior attorneys
  • Increased flexibility in accommodating personal life
  • Better utilization of technology to create flexible hours
  • Greater opportunity to shape the future direction of the workplace
 
The issue of flexibility, although agreed upon by all groups as an important factor for productivity and satisfaction, was viewed very differently by men and women. Women were far more likely than men to believe that the balance options in their workplace did not work for them, that their careers would be negatively impacted if they utilized the available options, and that greater flexibility in the workplace would have a positive impact on their careers. 
 
Perspectives on Diversity: Unsurprisingly, women and minorities were significantly more likely than men or whites to say that it was important to them to have a diverse legal profession. However, the data also marks a generational trend since a majority of Gen Y attorneys say that a diverse legal profession is important. White respondents and male respondents felt that a diverse profession and a diverse and inclusive workplace was important to them in spite of their belief that such a priority would not benefit them personally.
 
About MCCA
The Minority Corporate Counsel Association was founded in 1997 to advance the hiring, retention and promotion of diverse attorneys in legal departments and the law firms that serve them. MCCA accomplishes its mission through publishing, research and training, pipeline initiatives and networking. MCCA’s work has been recognized with awards from the National Minority Business Council, Inc., the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, the National LGBT Bar, and the Association of Corporate Counsel. MCCA is headquartered in Washington, D.C. For more information, go to mcca.com.

 

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