Gen Z and the Legal Profession
Gen Z comprises individuals born after 1996 and before 2013. Gen Z is young, but the first wave has already passed through the college years and is entering the workforce in greater and greater numbers.
What do we know about Gen Z? Importantly, it is the most educated and most indebted group in history. According to a report by the Statista Research Department, Gen Z makes up approximately one-fourth of the U.S. population at 67.06 million people. While Generation Z is currently a smaller cohort than baby boomers (70.68 million) and millennials (72.26 million), they are the most racially and ethnically diverse of all generation groups.
Gen Z is also the first generation to have never known a world without the internet and so is more technologically focused than any previous age group.
Although there are many shared goals between Gen Z and millennials, it is a mistake to lump together millennial culture with Gen Z culture. According to Eliza Stoker in her Major, Lindsey & Africa article “It’s Time for Law Firms to Start Talking About Gen Z, “Like millennials, Gen Z will expect a workplace that is flexible to their schedule and utilizes technology to allow them to work outside the office.” However, she continues, “employers should be careful when assuming that the two generations operate in entirely the same way.”
For example, Gen Z’ers appear to be more interested in finding a stable work environment with traditional benefits while still seeking meaningful work that gives them a sense of purpose.
Major, Lindsey & Africa has published a Gen Z survey, updated to reflect post-COVID changes in attitude. Survey co-author Nathan Peart points out, “Though Gen Z values financial stability, they also place a unique level of importance on pursuing purpose-driven legal work.” He continues, “Work-life balance and flexibility have become more significant for associates during the pandemic. Firms that can demonstrate their commitment to supporting attorneys’ well-being will be well-positioned to attract and keep this newest class of associates.”
Another survey, published by the Network of Executive Women (NEW) in partnership with Deloitte, echoes that perspective. The NEW survey also shows that Gen Z’ers look for more tech-oriented workplaces.
It is essential for law firms and corporations to understand the values of this new group of lawyers to attract and retain the best and the brightest talent for the future, and equally crucial for Gen Z’ers to make their attitudes and standards known to potential employers.
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