By Susan Smith Blakely • May 14, 2019•Careers, Firms and the Private Sector
I have written extensively about millennials and millennial lawyers, including about how members of the Millennial Generation were shaped by societal influences as they grew to adulthood. Those societal influences have limited their abilities to fit into traditional workplaces and, in some cases, have lead to anxiety and depression.
Those societal influences include: rapid advances in technology, including social media; the impact of the 2008 recession, which resulted in insecurity and risk aversion; and helicopter parenting that sheltered children from disappointment, interfered with decision making, and put pressure on coaches and teachers to improve outcomes for their children. These influences have taken a toll on our younger generations and can be traced to unreasonable expectations and inability to cope with challenges.
Some of you may doubt that premise. You may prefer to think that Baby Boomer and Generation X parents had nothing to do with the workplaces challenges for millennials. But, the research does not support that conclusion and also shows that the children of Generation Z, those who followed the millennials, are experiencing similar limitations from over-parenting. Consider the recent arrests of certain Gen Z parents, who engaged in alleged bribery, fraud and racketeering in schemes to get their children admitted to elite colleges and universities across this country.
Since the release of my book, What Millennial Lawyers Want: A Bridge from the Past to the Future of Law Practice (Wolters Kluwer/Aspen Publishers, 2018), I have addressed many audiences about these issues in an attempt to make both young and more experienced lawyers understand the Generational Divide in our profession today. The divide is real, and the solution must be shared to be effective and lasting. Understanding and respect are the tools to finding a path to the future to include all members of our profession.
The risks are very serious if we do not.
Susan Smith Blakely is the Founder of LegalPerspectives LLC and an award-winning, nationally-recognized author, speaker and consultant on issues related to young women lawyers, young women law students and young women interested in careers in the law. She is author of Best Friends at the Bar: What Women Need to Know about a Career in the Law (Wolters Kluwer/Aspen Publishers 2009), and Best Friends at the Bar: The New Balance for Today's Woman Lawyer (Wolters Kluwer Law & Business 2012), which addresses the work-life struggle for women lawyers and includes twelve profiles of women who have successfully transitioned from one practice setting to another. Her third book in the series, Best Friends at the Bar: Top-Down Leadership for Women Lawyers, focuses on the responsibilities of law firm leaders and was released by Wolters Kluwer Law & Business in 2015.
Ms. Blakely’s new book for ALL young lawyers, What Millennial Lawyers Want: A Bridge from the Past to the Future of Law Practice, will be released by Wolters Kluwer/Aspen Publishers in the summer of 2018.
Ms. Blakely frequently speaks at colleges and universities, law schools, law firms and law organizations, and she has been featured in media including Corporate Counsel Magazine, the ABA Journal, the LA Daily Journal, National Jurist, Washington Examiner Newspaper, Forbes Woman, Women Lawyers Journal (NAWL), DC Spotlight, Lawyerist.com, Daily Muse, Lawyer and Statesman, Law.com, Georgetown Law Magazine, Legal Toolkit Podcast, and Huffington Post Business. Ms. Blakely also is a frequent guest speaker and panelist at conferences on women's issues in business and the law profession, and she has been a featured speaker at the US Department of Justice, Civil Division. She is the recipient of the Ms. JD 2015 "Sharing Her Passion Award" and the Lawyer Monthly “Women in Law Award 2016”for her work on behalf of women in the law.
Ms. Blakely graduated from the University of Wisconsin with distinction and from Georgetown University Law Center where she was a teaching fellow. She is a member of the CoachSource global network of leadership coaches and is certified as a career coach for the Indiana University Marshall Goldsmith Leadership Development and Executive Coaching Academy. For more information, please visit www.bestfriendsatthebar.com.