COVID-19 Resources for Lawyers
Featured Guest
JP Box

JP Box is a lawyer-turned-entrepreneur, consultant, and author. After graduating from Georgetown Law, he practiced law for six years...

Your Host
Christine Bilbrey

Christine Bilbrey is a Senior Practice Management Advisor at The Florida Bar’s Practice Resource Center. She holds a master’s...

Episode Notes

Why are millennials leaving their careers in law? Generational differences and breakdowns in communication often broaden the disconnect between the career goals of millennials and the traditional legal practice models of law firms. Florida Bar podcast host Christine Bilbrey talks with consultant JP Box about the millennial mindset and his recommendations for creating a culture that motivates young associates. JP encourages law firms to engage millennials in meaningful work early on and gives perspective on the work-life blend that fuels this new generation of lawyers.

JP Box is the founder of JP Box Consulting LLC and author of, “The Millennial Lawyer: How Your Firm Can Motivate and Retain Young Associates,” published by the American Bar Association in 2018.

Transcript

The Florida Bar Podcast

Millennial Lawyers: How to Motivate and Retain Young Associates in Your Law Firm

12/16/2019

 

[Music]

 

Intro: Welcome to The Florida Bar Podcast, where we highlight the latest trends in law office and legal practice management to help you run your firm, brought to you by The Florida Bar’s Practice Resource Center. You are listening to Legal Talk Network.

 

[Music]

 

Christine Bilbrey: Welcome to the Florida Bar Podcast brought to you by LegalFuel, the practice resource center of the Florida Bar on legal talk network. We’re so glad you’re joining us. This is Christine Bilbrey. I’m a Senior Practice Management Advisor at the Bar and the host of the show which is being recorded from our offices in Tallahassee, Florida.

 

Our goal at the Practice Resource Center is to assist attorneys with running the business side of their law practices. We focus on a different topic each month and carry the theme through our website with related tips, videos and articles.

 

This month we are focusing on Millennial lawyers, the generational differences that can lead to misunderstandings and how firms can motivate and retain Millennial attorneys. Joining us to discuss this important topic is JP Box. JP is a lawyer-turned entrepreneur, consultant and author. After graduating from Georgetown Law he practiced for six years in Washington, D.C. and Denver, Colorado. As a Millennial himself, JP felt these firms did not provide the culture he was looking for and he left the practice of Law to co-found an online apparel company. JP is also now an in-demand consultant, helping partners create law firms where Millennials thrive and contribute. JP is the author of the book ‘The Millennial Lawyer: How Your Firm Can Motivate And Retain Young Associates’ published by the American Bar Association in 2018. He’s also written about Millennials in the law for numerous publications including Law Practice Today, Law Technology Today, The Georgetown Law Magazine and The Colorado Lawyer.

 

Welcome to the show, JP.

 

JP Box: Thank you so much, Christine. Excited to have a great conversation with you this morning.

 

Christine Bilbrey: So, JP, tell our listeners a little bit about yourself and what led you to consulting for law firms on the topic of Millennials?

 

JP Box: Sure, my career path is somewhat unconventional but in a lot of ways that actually shares a lot of commonalities with Millennials in the law and across other professions. And so as you briefly touched on in the introduction I was kind of the quintessential, successful, yet unfulfilled young associate and I started my career for a big firm in DC where when I joined I thought I’d be a partner someday and would be there for the foreseeable future, but I quickly became what I deemed the Goldilocks of young associates.

 

So I worked for that big firm for about two-and-a-half years which coincidentally is the average tenure of a Millennial and a new job. Moved back home to my home city of Denver, Colorado or worked for a big firm out here for two years. And then my last about two-and-a-half years practicing law was for a small firm that actually sub-leased space from my larger firm, which made for a few interesting elevator rides. But I left each of these law firms right at the time where I was becoming increasingly valuable to the partners, clients were calling me directly about new and ongoing cases, and so they wanted to know why are you leaving us, what could we have done differently?

 

And at the time I really didn’t have a good answer to those questions, I just knew that my journey did not end at that particular law firm. And so as you touched upon I went into entirely different direction. I co-founded a Merino Wool kids’ apparel company that I continue to run today with my wife, but I was still plagued by those questions because I wanted to answer for myself as much as for those partners why did I dedicate ten years of my life to going to law school, practicing as a lawyer, and ultimately not find the right niche? And it was really when I started looking into my generation, the Millennial generation that all of a sudden I started identifying miscommunications, points of misunderstanding that plagued cultures within law firms and other businesses.

 

And importantly, since I lived the life of a young associate and I could throw myself into the academic research into consulting studies, I was able to formulate what I believe is an optimistic vision of what the future of law can look like and eradicate some of those points of misunderstanding, miscommunication that ultimately leads a lot of young folks out of the profession or causes the career-changing, job-hopping ways that we see. And also saps law firms of their full productivity because they don’t have that buy-in from the youngest generation of lawyers. And so that realization led me on the path to start this consulting practice working with law firms, how do we start to reverse these trends that we are seeing.

 

(00:05:02)

 

Christine Bilbrey: I love that, and so there are obviously some generational distinctions that affect the dynamics within multi-generational law firms and so in order to help our listeners understand the Millennial mindset, can you start by discussing some of the common perceptions or misconceptions that are frequently attributed to Millennials and the workplace, kind of the Gen X or Boomer view of Millennials?

 

JP Box: Sure. I think the most common things that you’ll find, I mean, if you open up your laptop and google “Millennial lawyers” you will see it’s an entitled generation, they are lazy, they don’t work hard, they don’t commit, and so what you see from that end is a lot of frustration points, but what I try to focus on is a lot of these points of contention stem from a lack of understanding of the Millennial mindset.

 

And so what may have motivated a Gen X or a Boomer attorney early in their careers is not the same as will motivate the majority of Millennials early in their careers. And so I want to help a law firm get from point A to point B but they have to take a different route than they’ve taken in the past. And just to give one example, one of the things that I really focus on is a key element of the Millennial mindset is the notion of doing well by doing good, and when you look at study after study Millennials practicing law, Millennials in other professions as well, genuinely want to be part of a business, part of a profession that does good in the world. They want to feel like they are making a difference that they are contributing something meaningful, and what I saw as a young associate is oftentimes law firms try to motivate young attorneys with the business rewards of law.

 

If you worked really hard this year, you build a lot of hours, you get the billable hour bonus. Or if you work really hard, seven to nine years down the road, you’ll become a partner. And so moving that focus away from the business rewards to the practice of law and kind of tapping into that noble, altruistic profession that we have where we selflessly represent the interest of others is a key way to start tapping into a different motivation structure that will work better for this generation than the traditional business reward type care.

 

Christine Bilbrey: And you’re right, so this is one of the big points of confusion for the traditional law firm model, so you hit on that right away. So they’re wondering why don’t these young associates want to work these long hours because I’m promising them the big payoff is becoming a partner or this big financial bonus, and it just really doesn’t hold, I mean, obviously you want to be paid well, I always want to put that in, everyone would like to be paid well for their — and fairly, but that’s not the ultimate appeal. So what are some specific things that a firm can do to connect to and motivate their Millennial associates? So you mentioned they want to do well by doing good, but what does that look like? What can the firm do?

 

JP Box: And I think that’s a great point that you made that. When I talk about, this is a generation that is interested in great experiences over high pay, that doesn’t mean that pay is unimportant, of course a law firm must offer competitive salary and competitive bonuses, but those items will not keep a young attorney engaged and committed for the long run. And so, it’s about creating the culture and the structure where your young attorneys will buy in and will work hard.

 

I’ll give you one example from a firm that I spoke with in Chicago that had recently renovated five floors of office space and took out a lot of the law library spaces on each floor because all of that is digitized now, and instead put in a thousand square-foot kind of kitchenette/cafe area with couches, flat-screen televisions, circular tables and there was some concern amongst the partners of, if we tell associates, this space is for them, are we going to see productivity drop, are they going to just basically hang out in here all day and not get down to the serious business of our work?

 

And what they found was billable hours actually increased at that firm amongst its associates once they open to that communal workspace. This is a generation that wants to work together, that wants of you work as a place where you work hard but also you socialize and create relationships with your colleagues, and most weekday nights they report now that they have groups of associates who stay late, they’re ordering pizza, they have a baseball game on mute, their laptops are open and they are blending that distinction between work and life and creating the culture where these young folks now want to be at the office. They want to work hard.

 

And so oftentimes I tell law firms this isn’t — just about let’s be nice to Millennials, but let’s figure out a way that they’re going to be comfortable and motivated and ready to work hard for you.

 

(00:10:06)

 

Christine Bilbrey: And you’re probably freaking out some of our older attorneys right now because they — and I include my husband in this, he really likes the Cherrywood in the books even though he’s all Westlaw, but there’s a whole tradition of the way it should look, it’s a setting; and so what you’re describing looks in my mind like a tech startup that you see in movies and shows where there’s a lot of ping-pong tables and a basketball hoop or something. And attorneys can’t even begin to wrap their minds about that around that if that’s what you’re talking about, but you’re right, because they want to work together, and one of the real problems that even older lawyers talk about is there’s a loneliness to law.

 

So how are you being mentored? How are you learning from these older attorneys if they are away in their offices? So I like that. You’ve got to tie it into the bottom line so you’re saying they actually are billing more. What about when you say, they’re staying later and ordering pizzas? So are you talking about they should have some flex time outside the traditional 9-5 workday?

 

JP Box: Yes, exactly, and just to take a step backwards. I completely understand the position of an attorney like your husband who is very comfortable with doing research in the books and is comfortable with the four walls of his individual office.

 

And so, I don’t advocate. I had a partner once tell me, I’ve been very successful, I’ve done this for 30 years, I have two kids in college now, that’s why I work hard every day because I want to provide tuition for them and I want to retire myself someday, why should I change the way I practice or what my motivation is?

 

And my response was, you don’t have to change a thing about what you do. It is serving you very well. But if you want to have that same sense of motivation for your younger attorneys, you’re going to have to figure out to do it in a slightly different way than what you are comfortable with in an early part of your career. And so we can have these parallel tracks.

 

Some folks, even Millennials, will want to work quietly in their office and not in a communal set, and so my goal is not let’s make the Boomer uncomfortable now but let’s have everybody figure out a way that works well for them.

 

And to your point of mentorship, this is one of the key elements that Millennials really speak in the office that, yes, they do want some autonomy and setting their work location and hours and we can get into that, but they also are a generation that doesn’t want true freedom at the office.

 

They don’t want to be independent, they want to have — I liken it to going bowling having bumper lanes down the alley. They need guidance from a benevolent mentor and it’s actually a generation that from childhood has had coaches and teachers and parents give them ongoing feedback and critique their performances.

 

And so in a lot of ways, they are programmed to be mentored and that is a key element to keep a young person tethered and feeling productive at the office, it’s having that mentor who can tell them this is what we need to do to help you and your career path let’s get to know you and really bring you along and give you that sense of connection to somebody who’s had more experience in your office.

 

Christine Bilbrey: And so that touches on a point that’s a negative perception of Millennials that they always want a pat on the back that whole, oh, here’s your participation trophy that people bristle at, but it’s very specific that what you’re looking for as — and I don’t think this is just Millennials, I just think it’s kind of a paradigm shift that everybody wants feedback, everyone wants to be told you’re doing a good job, let’s work on this part, and it’s so productive for everyone in the workplace.

 

Do you agree that this would be a positive change for everyone regardless of their generation if they embraced it?

 

JP Box: Absolutely, and I have talked with older attorneys who have told me when I joined the profession it was sink or swim, but they realized it’s not good that a certain number of folks drowned in that process that all of us do want to have that institutional mentorship built in to help guide us.

 

And I will say with the Millennial generation, it’s most highly educated and in certain ways most room to generation in history and so there is this crisis of confidence that can occur when a mentor comes down on them hard about you’ve done — this brief here was missed the mark for all these reasons or your first deposition was a nightmare because you didn’t get the key testimony we actually wanted for our client.

 

(00:14:54)

 

And so one thing that I try to — I’m hesitant to coach a generation out of something, but one thing that I think is important for a mentor to help a young attorney understand is that being praiseworthy does not mean being perfect that as young lawyers, we are going to make mistakes. Every young lawyer does, your tenth deposition will be innumerably better than your first. Your tenth trial will be a lot smoother than your first trial.

 

And so helping them understand that, listen, I am going to critique your work just because you are perfect, just because you don’t get a gold star for everything, doesn’t mean that you’re not growing as an attorney and learning valuable lessons along the way.

 

And so allowing the young folks to know that if I’m critiquing your work, it’s because I believe in you, it’s because I care about your path, and this is a normal aspect of becoming a fully functioning attorney is taking on some criticism, adjusting our output and a big thing that’s helpful for young attorneys is even sharing a personal story from — if it’s a Gen X or Boomer attorney, the first time I tried to admit a piece of evidence and trial, the judge ran me through this horrible process and I was sweating buckets up there and I eventually got it in, but man, that was a scary process.

 

And so, kind of humanizing the mentor, letting the young person know we are going to have growing pains as attorneys and that is perfectly fine, in fact, that’s what we expect. And so making that human-to-human connection goes a long way to breaking down some of that praise, junkie-type culture that is sometimes associated with the Millennial generation.

 

Christine Bilbrey: Right, you mentioned it here, but also in your writing, you talked about how for the older attorneys, that can look like entitlement, and really this is a very confident generation, they want to succeed, and so I think you’re right, opening the communications and saying, I wasn’t perfect when I started is going to soften some of that instruction that goes on with the feedback.

 

So I just want to knock down one misconception after another, so let’s talk about the Millennial tendency to change jobs more frequently than older generations are accustomed to. This is very expensive for law firms. What is going on with Millennials?

 

JP Box: So, Millennials as a cohort are, one, we do live in a market where there are different jobs available to us and there’s no longer the social stigma attached to changing a job or even changing a career path, and so that is something new, that if you look at a Gen Xer’s average tenure and a job, it’s about five-and-a-half years. Boomer’s average tenure is seven-and-a-half years. For Millennials, it’s two-and-a-half years. And so this is a generation that is not shy about voting with the feet, and it’s really that search for meaning through work. This is a generation that demands a lot from its work. They want the paycheck, they want to have a community at work, they want to find a meaningful, fulfilling profession.

 

And so, what I’ve seen especially in big law over the past pretty much two decades is continuing to throw money at this issue, that we will solve retention and recruitment issues if we continue to increase associate salary, and as associates, we are very grateful when that happens. But that isn’t the thing that’s going to keep us tethered to a firm long term, and so it really is about creating that environment where, okay, I am part of something larger than myself here. I am part of the great team that’s doing great work in our community and for our clients, and one thing that I really try to help law firms focus on, just give you a small example of this, at each of my law firms we had an annual law firm economics meeting which was the partners in a transparent move, which Millennials highly value, opened their books to us and showed us this is the revenue our firms bringing in, these are our expenses, these are the average billable hour rates of every associate, of every partner, and really walked through the law firm finances.

 

And those meetings had the exact opposite effect than what the partners intended. Usually, there was some lingering resentment amongst the associate ranks of, is this really how they look at me, I am just a number on a spreadsheet to them? And I’ve had law firm say, okay, I’m never doing that meeting again, and that’s the wrong answer as well.

 

But it’s about providing a whole picture of the law firm as a whole, and so part of that is absolutely the business, but it’s also the impact that the law firm has in its community. The impact and the work that we’ve done for our great clients, our pro bono work.

 

And so, if you start to paint the picture of the law firm as a whole, then you begin to have the chance to tap in for that altruistic mindset that a lot of Millennials have.

 

(00:20:02)

 

And all the sudden they’re not part of just a business that looks at them as numbers on a spreadsheet, they’re part of a profession, they’re part of a practice group that is really looking at what’s our impact in the world and how can we be the best lawyers we can be. And so, again, tapping into something larger than the business rewards of law is really one of the most productive ways, effective ways to stop that trend of associate turnover that as you mentioned does cost law firms a lot of money.

 

Christine Bilbrey: And something that I read that you had written, you talk about how letting young attorneys immediately participate so that they’re not just like in the attic doing document review and there’s no way they can see how this connects to something important, is that something that you think would have kept you at one of your firms if you had been told the why of how this was impacting people’s lives or that it was doing something for the greater good when you think back about them, asking you why are you leaving, is that something that would have changed your mind?

 

JP Box: Yeah, I think that would go a long way and I’m very happy where my past has led me, but if I put myself back into my associate days, I saw a mixture of partners who understood that and partners who had be more of the mindset pay your dues, you’ll do interesting work down the road. So, on the good side of it I had one partner tell me, JP, I like my job, but I like it even better when you can do it for me, and I loved working for him. He was always pushing me to take on more responsibilities than I would even feel comfortable doing, but he was there mentoring me and guiding me. But I think in a lot of ways — in certain ways he was the aberration of my career, but I think it’s two things. One, it’s doing interesting work, whether it’s through allowing associates to take on a pro bono client or whether it’s through training through different mock trials, that kind of stuff, but also it’s about creating ways for associates to start being part of the direction of the law firm from an early age.

 

And so one firm that I worked with launched a senior associate program where associates who are in their fourth through eighth years can be on a senior associate track where they can sit in on certain partner-level meetings and they can start to have —  it’s almost like a partner-in-training-type program, but they can start to be involved in the direction of the law firm —  how are we going to — where do we want to recruit, how do we want to grow with a firm, what practice areas are most important to us, and bringing associates into that discussion at an early point, adding it another very effective way of — rather than trying to fight the confidence that this generation comes into the workplace with, figuring out a creative way to harness it for the betterment of the law firm and ultimately to keep your top performing associates employed and engaged for the long run.

 

Christine Bilbrey: I like that, so getting them invested early in the actual work is very important so the buy-in. A traditional law firm is going to have a very vertical hierarchy that everything is done and you are talking about like it’s not transparent, the decisions are made up high, and Millennials will say that they favor a flat or horizontal hierarchy, what could that look like in a law firm if I’m a senior partner you’re trying to explain that to me, what do you mean?

 

JP Box: Sure, and that is a great point and this is a generation that looks at things as you said horizontally for a couple of reasons. One is this is the most diverse generation in history. They’ve been able to be citizens of the world in ways that previous generations simply could not through technology. And secondly, it’s also a generation that grew up enjoying peer-like relationships with a lot of parents, coaches and teachers, one thought exercise that I have especially boomer attorneys do is think about how many decisions you made with your parents when you were young and how many decisions your kids now make with you.

 

Chances are you asked your son or daughter, what do you want for dinner, what should we do this weekend, what do you want to do tonight, what movie should we watch? And so over-and-over it’s really making them part of the decision-making process and so there isn’t as much distance between the adult authority figure and the child.

 

And that same dynamic occurs in the workplace between the junior employee and the more senior employee, but the good news is that although this is a horizontal generation, they will respect the role that each team member plays. And so one of things I try to help folks understand is you should focus on the role that you play as a senior partner, for example, instead of the title. So a Gen X or Boomer attorney will see senior partner on the door and will understand that title carries a lot of status on a lot of weight.

 

(00:25:02)

 

A younger associate who is less impressed with titles won’t have that same reverence for the title by itself, but they will respect and understand the role that a senior partner plays, and so taking that extra moment to as — just as there’s five players on a basketball court and they have to work together well, may all have different roles. We have five people working on this case together. We have the senior partner who’s managing the clients’ expectations and as mentoring young attorneys and as being a great attorney and his or her own right. We have the paralegal who is keeping us organized and keeping us on task. We have the junior associate. We may have a senior associate, and it’s really focusing on what role does each person have to play to make this a successful outcome for our client, more so than you shall respect the more senior folks because they have a more senior title. That resonates less well with this generation.

 

Christine Bilbrey: I understand, that makes a lot of sense. Can you talk about the — what you call, and I think this is pops up a lot more now work-life blend, the old way was work hard, play hard and then we were all about work-life balance, but those were two things that were really diametrically opposed pulling at each other this balance that we could never find in our lives, what does the ultimate work-life blend look like for a Millennial attorney?

 

JP Box: Yeah, that’s a good way that you put it about having these things in opposition to each other. And so, kind of taking a step back, work-life balance became the rallying cry of Gen X about 20 years ago. And if you look at studies of lawyers and their satisfaction with their jobs, despite two decades of very well-intentioned, very thoughtful work-life balance initiatives, lawyers are not appreciably happier in their jobs.

 

And so, I think a big part of this is Millennials but I would also argue a lot of folks from Gen X and the Boomer generation, are not truly comfortable when you step back and think about it of balancing worked against life, as if these two are diametrically opposed concepts. And you’re trying to get in each, but I think that short-changes work and life. To a young person work should be an interesting enhancing aspect of life. And so you no longer have this tension between this is what I do, this is what I want to achieve professionally and this is what I want to achieve in life. your profession is an important part of your life and as part of that we’re moving away from the notion of — this is a 9-to-5 workday or for lawyers 8-to-7 because the reality is our clients expect us to be accessible almost 24/7 if they have an emergency that arises, they expect us to jump on it for them, and as a true counselor that’s what we have to do.

 

But at the same time it’s building in time for a young person to organize their life including work in a way that makes sense, and so, for some of us — I’m a morning person, I am most productive in the first 4 or 5 hours of the day, but after 5 p.m. my brain just starts to turn off, and I know that I’m working very much less productively at that time.

 

Other folks I worked with, I worked with a partner who — she did her best work in midnight and that’s great for her, but it’s about figuring out, okay, when and where am I most productive and how we start to organize our lives around those principles, rather than this notion of when you’re at your desk from 9-to-5 or 8-to-7, and then as client emergencies pop up, maybe we bring you back here later, but it’s really about figuring out systems to begin trusting your high-performing associates to organize their lives in a way that makes sense.

 

And to give an example of this I was speaking with a HR professional from a firm in New York and he came from the world of consulting, worked for a big consulting firm, and one of the things that they did at his consulting firm when a new client came onboard, let’s say, they brought four people on to take care of that client, the first thing they would do internally was create a schedule of what every person does outside of work. And so Susan may walk her dog from 7:00 to 8:00 in the morning, Jerry may do a master swimming program from 5 to 6 every day, and they’ve built out this schedule that had the things they want to do at work but also outside of work. And by overlaying that schedule they could create essentially seamless coverage for the clients for about 12 to 16 hours per day where there was at least somebody there who would be accessible and he’s trying to bring that model to his law firm in New York because people work better, people are more productive when they have the outlet for those important things outside of work.

 

(00:30:02)

 

And as lawyers, sometimes we are so singular-focused on what we’re doing for our clients that we’re missing out on opportunities to refresh ourselves and to really have that productivity boost by not only taking care of our work responsibilities but also the things that make us feel tethered to our communities that invigorate us and allow us to do better work when we turn back towards it.

 

So it’s about trying to blur the distinction between work and life in a way that actually allows us to be more productive workers in the long run.

 

Christine Bilbrey: It’s funny that that sounds so radical and yet it’s so simple. What are some important things that are going on in your life that you would like to make work so that we’re all here at our best, and the fact that it seems radical to ask people about their outside lives is a little bit sad.

 

I hope we’re moving towards that that sounds wonderful and refreshing, and you also touched on the thing Millennials, they don’t just want their job to not make them unhappy, they want to be happier, they are looking for ways to improve every area of their lives.

 

And so this is — their work is a part of that and at The Florida Bar Podcast, we’ve done quite a few shows on mental health because the GRIM statistics, we all know that there is a real mental health crisis that exists in the legal profession and I feel like this is an in for firms that are going to be resistant to some change that could help.

 

Because I want you to talk about some of the things that Millennials are seeking from their work, you have already touched on a lot of them but if we addressed it, it would help everyone’s mental health. I don’t think that older attorneys even expect to that that is something that work would bring them, they do see it as a means to an end, a bigger paycheck.

 

So you talk about the bottom line, when you’re consulting, have you talked about this is in fact going to make the mood of your law firm the happiness, the mental health level, better for everyone that exists in this law firm.

 

JP Box: Yeah, I think that’s such a great point and I listened to another episode of yours with Ann Bradford, and loved her —

 

Christine Bilbrey: Yes, yes, that’s one of my favorites.

 

JP Box: — mine as well, and loved her application of positive psychology to the law firm because a lot of what we do, we are trained issue-spotters, whether you’re doing transactional law or whether you’re a trial attorney, you are trying to spot all the landmines before they potentially blow up.

 

And so that does take a toll on us as human beings always searching out the negative and trying to figure out how do we stop this from happening, if there’s a worst-case scenario and this very amicable deal between two companies but we’re still looking at, okay, in this contract, what are the areas that we have to watch out for?

 

And so bringing that positivity to the law firm, I think is even more important than a lot of other businesses that don’t have that issue-spotting mentality as part of their underpinning, and so as a part of that, it’s something that I think we all went to law school, a lot of us, because we look at the law as this altruistic measure of contributing to society, that at our best we are true counselors for our clients and we selflessly represent another’s interest.

 

And tapping back into that for law firm culture writ large I think is incredibly important and I see things like billable hours which started off as a transparency mechanism to show clients how hard we work for them, and to kind of peel back the curtains of, this is what we’re doing for you, this is measure of the great work we’re doing for you, has over time morphed into the — kind of the motivation structure for why we do the work we do.

 

And so I think as a profession, we have to take a step back and kind of return to our roots in certain ways to bring that positivity into the culture, and I’ll also say I sometimes get the question of, well, who are Millennials to be making all these demands upon the law firm culture and the answer is in 2019, this year, they became the largest component of lawyers in the U.S. They became the largest component of the U.S. workforce three years earlier in 2016, and Thomson Reuters estimates that by 2025, so just six years from now, they will hit 50% of all lawyers. And so when I’m talking to law firms this isn’t just a luxury trying to understand how can we motivate Millennials?

 

I truly believe that the law firms that are going to be successful over the next decade will be those that begin to understand and tap into how do we get the most out of this admittedly challenging young workforce and there are ways to tap into that motivation, the notion of doing well by doing good is a big part of it and also creating that teamwork atmosphere where folks are working together.

 

(00:35:10)

 

Talking about mental health, UCLA released the study last year that deemed our profession the loneliest in America, that lawyer has outpaced other professions with affirmative responses to questions such as I feel that I have nobody to talk to, I feel as if nobody truly understands me, which for me is insane for a profession built upon the promise of partnership.

 

I think a lot of what ails our profession as a whole can be remedied by tapping back into the roots of who we are and what we do and really reclaiming the noble practice of law, not just for young attorneys, but for everybody who works at a law firm.

 

Christine Bilbrey: That’s beautiful. I love that. So many of my questions were about the differences between the generations and I think that what you’ve talked about when you get down to the why, so much of that falls away that really these generations started out wanting the same things.

 

I think that the older generations felt like they had to accept the status quo and I think it’s a wonderful change that’s going to start to force the law firms to change to the betterment of everyone inside the culture. So, thank you for that.

 

It looks like we’ve reached the end of our program. Thank you JP Box for joining us today.

 

JP Box: Thank you so much, Christine. I really enjoyed talking with you today.

 

Christine Bilbrey: I did as well and if our listeners have questions for you, can they find you on social media or how can they reach you?

 

JP Box: Yes, JP_Millennial is my Twitter handle and my website is jpboxjr.com.

 

Christine Bilbrey: Great, thank you, and I encourage people to reach out. It’s a very easy read, ‘The Millennial Lawyer’ that you can get through the ABA website, JP’s book.

 

So if you like what you heard today please rate us in Apple Podcast. Join us next time for another episode of The Florida Bar Podcast, brought to you by LegalFuel, the Practice Resource Center of the Florida Bar on Legal Talk Network.

 

I’m Christine Bilbrey. Until next time, thank you for listening.

 

[Music]

 

Outro: Thanks for listening to The Florida Bar Podcast, brought to you by The Florida Bar’s Practice Resource Center and produced by the broadcast professionals at Legal Talk Network.

 

If you would like more information about today’s show, please visit legaltalknetwork.com. Subscribe via iTunes, Google Podcasts, Spotify, and RSS. Find The Florida Bar, LegalFuel, The Florida Bar’s Practice Resource Center and Legal Talk Network on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and LinkedIn, or download the free app from Legal Talk Network in Google Play and iTunes.

 

The views expressed by the participants of this program are their own and do not represent the views of, nor are they endorsed by Legal Talk Network, its officers, directors, employees, agents, representatives, shareholders, and subsidiaries. None of the content should be considered legal advice. As always, consult a lawyer.

 

[Music]

Newsletter

Notify me when there’s a new episode!

Episode Details
Published: December 16, 2019
Podcast: The Florida Bar Podcast
Category: Practice Management
Podcast
The Florida Bar Podcast
The Florida Bar Podcast

The official podcast of the State Bar of Florida.

Listen & Subscribe
Recent Episodes
04/30/20
How to Designate an Inventory Attorney — Rule 1-3.8 for Florida Lawyers

Patricia Savitz explains the Florida Bar’s requirement for members to designate an inventory attorney under Rule 1-3.8.

03/20/20
Electronic File Management 101

John Montaña answers common questions about law firm data storage in an increasingly digital practice.

02/28/20
EAPs and the Bar: Providing Mental Health Services to Attorneys

George Martin and Lisa Hardy explain the many types of help available to attorneys through an employee assistance program.

01/30/20
A Crash Course in Lawyer Advertising and Solicitation

Elizabeth Tarbert offers guidance for ensuring compliance in lawyer advertising and solicitation.

12/16/19
Millennial Lawyers: How to Motivate and Retain Young Associates in Your Law Firm

JP Box shares insights on the millennial generation’s unique approach to careers in law.

11/11/19
A Conversation About Professionalism

Panelists Ashlea Edwards, Judge Paul Huck, Judge Nelly Khouzam, and Kara Rockenbach discuss current issues surrounding lawyer professionalism.