« Gen Next - Not Enthusiastic about Becoming Lawyers | Main | Pop Culture Looks at Biz: Not a pretty picture »

December 28, 2008


It's hard to take your argument seriously when your writing is about as clear and effective as a bad romance novel. Do you really run a communications firm? I feel for your clients.

Another Xer here - I too feel like the Boomers feel like they've put in their effort, and now they expect to coast on the backs of the youngsters - well here's a news flash, if you're tired or burned out, retire or at least go "of counsel". I am prepared to work my ass off to advance my career, not to keeps yours afloat if you don't want to put in the effort - you can't be both a micromanager and an absentee landlord.

As to you millenials, you're not all bad by any means, but for god's sake, learn how to cowboy up a little and stop asking if you can go home! Just because you gave me a half-assed certificate or opinion at 7:30 does not mean you can immediately take off. I try very hard to be considerate of others' time - I don't want to waste your time of the client's money, but please stop acting like a little kid.

Your pats on the back of the Baby Boomer generation are misplaced, my friend. You and your cohort of shrill, self-interested, demanding, spoiled, uncompromising, feckless louts are the source of all that is wrong with our country today.

You talk of flexibility in approaching modern problems, but it's your generation that can't see the world outside the lens of Cold War foreign policy and 1960's identity politics. You complain that the Millenial Generation is difficult to deal with, but it's your ilk that that has never been able to put Vietnam behind you, and as a result you've left us with the "culture wars" phenomenon, perverting academia into indoctrination camps for one side or the other.

To the extent you complain about our generation being entitled and selfish, I suggest you "deconstruct" that sentiment and see it for what it is -- a projection of your own self-loathing for the miserable failures that have been allowed to go on during your watch. In fact, the only glimmer of hope visible at the end of the tunnel, the 2008 Presidential election results, came into being through the work of our generation, not yours. The Obama campaign had the foresight to count not on you, but on us, to fix the problems that your shared incompetence created.

I truly hope that more national and world leaders come to share that realization and look to us for leadership. You already squandered the progress wrought by the Greatest Generation; don't try to project blame onto us for your own shortcomings.

Yeah - basically what "new lawyer" said. In addition, this has got to be the most intellectually lazy piece of writing to cross my screen.

See my earlier post. I have some bitterness toward baby boomers. I think they are strip mining our economy. The same complaints they have about millenials could be directed at them. The generations before you didn't have it "easy" and "made" once they "arrived." Neither do you. Imagine that, kids out of lawschool don't know what they are doing. They question the "way things are" in the practice of law. Why does this surprise you? I really hate and resent baby boomers. They seem completely unable to see the world from anyone's perspective but their own.

I also have some bitterness toward millenials. I feel like their older brother who had it tough so the parents could realize that this wasn't working and soften up when it became their turn. As a Gen-Xer, I feel remote and detached from everyone else. We see the world for what it is, you geezers never will and you kids don't yet (and may or may not learn to). I deeply enjoy seeing these two cohorts go after each other. Yes, I'm bitter, but I wear it well.

Millenials, I've already been through one downturn. Here's some brotherly advice, brace yourselves. The baby boomers have already shown that they'd rather fire you than take a $10,000 (out of $500k) pay cut. Business practices were more humane when they were coming up. Now that they've "arrived" it became a dog eat dog world. I'll fight in the streets before I let taxes pay their health care bill. (OK, that was more of the negative hyperbole my generation has become known for.)

Why does every one of these anti-Millenial rants characterize my entire generation as going to Ivy League schools? Is it because the people who are ranting about us are only exposed to those of us who have made it to and through an Ivy League school? Probably so. When Boomer managers interview for a new position, they frequently filter through the huge number of applications by looking at an applicant's school and his GPA. That means most of the individuals they interview, and therefore most of the individuals they eventually hire, have high marks from a top school; often an Ivy.

The problem: the Ivy Leagues have streamlined a Pavlovian grading structure that teaches students to disregard all non-measurable knowledge and skills by incentivizing memorization of testable knowledge. If a student wants to succeed at an Ivy League School, there's a simple rule: If it's not on the test, it's useless to waste mental energy retaining (assuming, that is, that mental energy is a scarce resource, and I believe it is a scarce resource given the hefty load of work at top schools).

Thus, when the two major prerequisites for working at BigLaw firm are (1) top school and (2) high GPA, these firms have specifically selected a subgroup of Millenials wired to seek out explicit, unambiguous tasks with immediate feedback.

The answer to the problem presented by this post, therefore, is not age discrimination (side note: I wish these late-fifty year olds would stop trying to stir up agism just so that they can keep their jobs), but rather a new way of measuring applicants.

I understand that employers want short cuts that allow them to hire only the cream of the crop within a few weeks. But there's really no such short cut. The only way to find the best talent is to interview the entire group of applicants extensively.

And, please, stop ragging on my generation. We're as talented and as flawed as every generation before us.

Let me restate the author's original article in brief:

"I am incapable of selecting talented people to hire for my organization. Therefore everyone of the same demograhpic is equally useless."

If the common demographic had been a common racial, ethnic, religious, or gender trait, the author would be justifiably branded a bigot. Why is prejudice suddenly okay when the common demographic happens to be age?

I'm pretty sure that I wouldn't hire Genova Writing, Coaching & More, as its proprietor seems incapable of communicating with anyone more than a few years his junior.

I suppose every generation has to put up with its version of "back in my day we walked to school barefoot in the snow, uphill both ways" which really is what this post sounds like. As for thinking outside the box I 100% agree with "let them eat pro se." In my experience, law school does all it can to prevent too much thinking outside the box. On exams professors want black-letter law; bluebooking allows for no creativity whatsoever; law school classes that are more creative are dismissed as "fluff"; being on a journal is valued over almost any other experience; having your whole grade come down to a 3-hour exam discourages creative risks, especially when coupled with the harsh reality of the curve...etc.

Creative answers are not rewarded and it seems that creative thinkers are not drawn to biglaw; if one thrives on creative thinking and unique approaches to problems do they really want to sentence themselves to thousands of hours of document review? If you wanted to make an argument that the pedagogy of law school is in dire need of a serious overhaul and, that to get more creative minds the incentive structure needs to be changed I think you'd find a more favorable response, but blaming those who play by the rules for the existence of the rules seems disingenuous.

Maybe the problem lies with your methods for screening your millenial applicants? If you are sticking with people who have been raised by hovering parents, haded everything on a platter (including costly tutors and test prep courses and expensive extracirriculars), then are relying on the "Ivy League" names on their resume to conclude they will be your best picks - maybe you should rethink your strategy. There are a lot of millenials out there who have spent their young adult lives being creative and taking initiative in getting their education. But practical realities may mean these folks dont have the Harvard pedigree. It is really sick to condemn a whole generation based on your experience with a few wayward, entitled, automoton newhires. (and to be clear, i think the above comments about the problem laying with the poor communication by the senior partners are also an very likely explanation.)

Do you mean "relegated" instead of "regulated" in para. 7, i.e., "are being relegated to routine and tedious tasks" instead of "are being regulated to routine and tedious tasks"?

I am at the tail end of Gen X. When I started at a big law firm almost ten years ago, the legal press ran articles asking whether my generation could hack it. The attitude seemed to be one of indifference as to whether we'd make it or not. There wasn't a lot of talk about what to do to make the professional world more welcoming to us. Lately, I've seen a lot of articles asking what business and professional firms can do to help millennials. I guess there really is safety in numbers. The sheer size of their generation has business leaders asking what to do to accommodate them. My generation seemed to get a lot of the "kick down" treatment. I'm jealous.

It is fair to say that many Millennials are just "getting in the box" as stated by "new lawyer". However, you can point the finger all you want, but in my experience Millennials want the plum jobs, top pay and titles without investing the time to learn, and without wanting to progress on a career path.

As Gen-Xer and experienced manager who worked hard to build up a career, and then went to law school to advance that career in a new direction, I've spent many hours trying to train Millennials, and sitting beside them in class. All I get are head nods and "unh huhs", and then when they are asked to produce they want to blame their lack of progress or production on others. No questions, even when asked (in groups or in private) if they are comfortable with the work, resources, what they need to do, etc. But, they seem to have plenty of focus and attention for cell phones, text messaging and Facebook.

So, if you are Millennial who really wants to learn, develop and grow, find a mentor and listen and learn. We are out there, but no generation before you was handed a top career on a silver plate and you won't be either.

wait... how does one think outside of the box when one's job is to 'read through this thousand page document and pick out the periods that are italicized'?

how does the biglaw structure reward me for 'thinking outside of the box'? does that give me more hours i can add to my billing so i don't get fired? i must have missed the 'creative thinking' bonus memo... maybe it's because it was only sent out in snail mail and i don't know how to open one of those things. oh wait... everything i do that is more efficient means i get LESS bonus because the entire metric the system is build around is how many hours i work and how anal i am while checking aforementioned periods? ok, just checking.

man... thinking outside of the box is HARD!

This is ridiculous. I am so sick of hearing the boomers and gen-x managers, partners and supervisors lament my generation over its need for attention. Let me let you in on the secret to the "millenials" - it's not us, it's you.

Your argument is that my generation can't function without instruction, we can't "think outside the box." We are in our first few years of work (or practice, as the case may be). Of course we need instruction. Of course we can't think outside the box. We just got in the damn box. We didn't know what the box looked like 6 months ago.

It has nothing to do with our upbringing or our over-ambitious parents, or "teaching to the test" or whatever. It is that the generations that oversee our work are either too tired, too busy, or too self-centered to mentor us the way earlier generations mentored them. It's not us, it's you.

Essentially, under the guise of law practice advice, you are eviscerating an entire generation of newly-admitted attorneys for being newly-admitted attorneys. You should ask yourself: who looks petty and needy in the end - the brand-new kid with a boat load of ambition waiting for direction, or the partner who can't make time to for him? The same partner, incidentally, that expects 2000 hours a year out of the kid (even though when he started, they only expected 1700 out of him). The same partner that will lay off 50, 60, 70 attorneys for "underperforming" when the markets go bad.

But you want us to think outside the box? No thanks. You were right about one thing - we millenials are bright and aware - and we're onto you. We know what being creative and non-traditional gets us. If we followed your plan, we'd "take risks in proposing approaches, and keep trying, failing, and trying until" we got our office handed to us in a cardboard box. And it would take about that long.

No, look those people you mentioned in the opening paragraph – Steve Jobs, Bill Gates, Oprah. Those people are the leaders of their organizations, not the new hires in orientation. You can’t compare them to us, but you could compare them to yourselves.

I hardly ever post comments, but Millenial's comment just drove me there. I was born in 1980, so am one of the older millenials. i worked in the real world at a software startup for 5 years before going back to law school where creativity was required and where there were no correct answers since we were creating something new. When I decided to go to law school, I was amazed at exactly the type of phenomena the writer talks about. I'd say that at least 20% of the time in my law school classes, the professor will go into a long lecture on an inherently ambiguous subject, only to have someone ask "So what is the rule?" after the professor spent 40 minutes explaining why a rule doesn't really exist.

This whole "you need to re-program us" is the exact problem he is describing. So many creative thinkers went through the same standardized tests and went through the same education system, yet are still intellectually and professionally self-sufficient and creative.

My only concern is how to make myself stand out as someone who has cultivated this ability.

I posted a blog entry about a similar topic weeks ago and it appears that its applicable here again. The problem is communication. Older generations don't know how to convey to younger ones and visa versa. I am a millenial who consistently looked for creative and more efficient ways of doing things and I was lambasted for it. What boomers don't realize is that they don't know what they really want from us so anything we do turns out to be wrong. You don't have to give us step by step, but we'd like to know the end result.


I've noticed a trend lately - not so much at this blog, but across a number of different blogs - where millenials are insulted for being over-achievers who always looks for exactly the right answer to a question. News flash: we're only doing EXACTLY what we were raised to do (probably by people just like the author of this post).

What on earth did you fools think was going to happen to a generation raised on "choose the BEST answer" standardized exams? Is it really so shocking that we want detailed instructions so we can "choose the BEST answer" to the tasks we face at work?

Stop your whining. If you don't like the answers we're giving, then you need to re-program us. It's the fault of the same people who are now managing partners that we turned out this way in the first place.

Verify your Comment

Previewing your Comment

This is only a preview. Your comment has not yet been posted.

Your comment could not be posted. Error type:
Your comment has been saved. Comments are moderated and will not appear until approved by the author. Post another comment

The letters and numbers you entered did not match the image. Please try again.

As a final step before posting your comment, enter the letters and numbers you see in the image below. This prevents automated programs from posting comments.

Having trouble reading this image? View an alternate.


Post a comment

Comments are moderated, and will not appear until the author has approved them.

Your Information

(Name and email address are required. Email address will not be displayed with the comment.)