Are Young Associates Slackers, or Just Rational Actors?:
Last week, posted this National Law Journal article on the work ethic of law firm associates who are part of the the so-called "Generation Y" — those born in 1978 or later. The verdict? From the perspective of today's law firm partners, associates from Generation Y are "slackers" with "a flabby work ethic" who don't "take charge of their career," lack "loyalty," aren't eager to do mindless work, and "don't volunteer for committee or other firm work." The article suggests everything from 9/11 to the bust as an explanation for this alleged generational shift in attitudes.

  Most of my knowledge of law firm life is second-hand, so my own take on this is sheer speculation. But I wonder if the article is missing a better explanation for the shift: law school graduates today understand that law firms — particularly large firms — are businesses. Law firms hire associates to make money, not for the esprit de corps. Big firm partners want to maximize their profits, and hiring lots of associates and having them bill lots of hours with little hope of making partner is a way to do that. Partners who have created this sort of environment are in an odd position to complain that today's young associates lack loyalty and don't volunteer for committee work. If I'm not mistaken, associates are taking their clues from partners and are viewing law firms as means to an end. Most big-firm partners are looking to make lots of money; most big-firm associates are looking to pay off some loans, get some experience, and add a line to the resume before figuring out what they really want to do with their lives. Associates in this position may seem lazy and insufficiently loyal to some partners, but that's mostly because the associates are not planning on sticking around for the long haul.

  But enough of my speculation. VC readers at law firms know a lot more about these dynamics than I do. I have opened up comments so we can get the real scoop from our readers.

Related Posts (on one page):

  1. The Problem With Partners These Days:
  2. Are Young Associates Slackers, or Just Rational Actors?: