How Much Worse Can It Get for Millennial Lawyers?

Yes, we expect a lot of millennial lawyers.  And we should.  They are paid high salaries, and they need to accept that the early years of practice at law firms are taxing.  New job.  New specialization.  New culture.

But, millennial lawyers also should expect a lot of law firm leaders.  Career development.  Mentoring.  Inclusion as part of the team.  In other words, these young lawyers have a right to expect behavior with more than a touch of humanity.

My new book, What Millennial Lawyers Want:  A Bridge from the Past to the Future of Law Practice (Wolters Kluwer/Aspen, 2018)  is all about these concepts.  I explore questions that center around whether the law firm leadership or the millennials lawyers are responsible for the generation divide in law firms today.  So, after all the research I have done, I thought I had heard it all.

Until I read in this article that a law firm is suing an associate, who departed after one year, for breach of contract and damages that amount to at least $10,000.  Although it appears to be true that the associate had signed a three-year contract, this action by the law firm is still astounding.  I hope she has some strong defenses.

In the speeches I give about the millennial generation and millennial lawyers, I typically tell audiences of senior lawyers, “We are better than this,” in describing the way that law firms are failing young lawyers today.  So, I say here, “WE ARE BETTER THAN THIS.”

It is hard to imagine what lack of wisdom went into the decision to put an associate lawyer under contract in the first place and then to sue a departed associate for breach of that contract.   It is hard to imagine how the law firm could not understand that, no matter the outcome, the law firm will lose in the court of public opinion.  It is hard to imagine how the law firm thought this would end well.

This is not professional behavior.  This is not compassionate behavior.  This is not honorable behavior.  This is behavior that lends to the reputations of greed that abound in the profession. 

This is stupid.  Some times you just have to call it what it is.

Young lawyers beware.  There are predators lurking in the weeds.  I hope those predators have the good sense to put more money into the recruiting budget for future years.  Sounds like they’ll need it.

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