The Gen Why Lawyer: Who Are We and What Do We Want?
By Nicole Abboud • January 07, 2016•Writers in Residence
I was born in 1986 and grew up in the 90’s during prosperous economic times. It was a time of major globalization, technological advancements, and rapid access to information. For 90’s kids, life was big, loud, fun, and seemingly safe.
When I was 15, I witnessed the second plane crashing into the World Trade Center. The year was 2001. Suddenly, the world wasn’t so safe anymore.
When I was 22, I started law school. While I was excited to start this new journey in my life, I was blissfully ignorant to the evil that was brewing around me. The year was 2008. The U.S. was in the midst of the Great Recession. There were unprecedented layoffs, salary decreases, and hiring freezes resulting in an exceptional number of unemployed law school graduates nationwide.
Three years later, I took the bar and passed in 2011. As always, my timing was impeccable. 2011 found numerous law graduates unemployed or underemployed and saddled with massive student loan debt.
So why am I reciting this timeline for you?
If you were born in the 80’s like I was (or early 90’s), then you are part of a generation called Generation Y, also known as millennials. And you, like me, experienced these same occurrences while entering adulthood. I believe that what makes each generation different and unique are these major occurrences in history that shape the larger world in which we develop and move through. These major historical incidents define our characteristics individually, and as a generation as a whole, and truly set us up to be the generation that is changing the game.
More than any other generation, Generation Y members feel comfortable with the high level of interconnection and fast-paced change in the world. We value uniqueness and diversity. We embrace technology, devour information, and question the status quo. Ultimately, we want to be part of something meaningful and bigger than us. This is especially true for Generation Y lawyers and the legal profession, or as I like to call them, Gen “Why” lawyers.
Who are Gen Why Lawyers Exactly and What Do We Want?
Gen Why lawyers are a community of millennial attorneys who are asking “Why?” and demanding more from and for ourselves. We are hungry for successful professional lives but are equally excited about leading fulfilling lives outside of work. We have respect for the traditions of the practice of law but aren't afraid to explore new methods of legal practice and business development. Most importantly, as Gen Why lawyers, we are interested in building careers and lives that allow us to pursue our passions, live in our purpose, create a positive impact in our communities, and (just as importantly) make money!
As Gen Why’ers, we possess certain skills, knowledge, and inherent abilities based on our shared experiences. The world that we grew up in is vastly different than the one we find ourselves practicing law in today. The legal profession itself has changed. But as a generation that grew up during a time of rapid change, we welcome these shifts and look forward to contributing to the advancement and transformation of the legal profession going forward.
We are confident that the skills and experiences that we have acquired throughout our lives (yes, we actually had lives prior to becoming lawyers!) will serve us well as we proceed to build names for ourselves in this profession. More importantly, we are excited at the prospect of crafting careers and lives that we are passionate about - ones filled with meaning, purpose, and impact.
If you’re a Gen Why lawyer, I’d love to meet you! Connect with me on Twitter @nicoleabboud or on Instagram @nic_abboud
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