Generational clash: Differing workplace attitudes pose biggest challenge for junior lawyers

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By Legal Cheek on

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Exclusive research: Managing mental health and workloads among key challenges for Gen-Zers, along with addressing knowledge gaps


Law firms say that one of the major challenges for junior lawyers entering the legal profession in the coming years is navigating the varying generational perspectives at work, exclusive research undertaken by Legal Cheek has shown.

Out of nearly 40 law firms surveyed, over a third (36%) said that the biggest hurdle for aspiring Generation Z lawyers will be dealing with the difference in workplace attitudes between themselves and their older colleagues.

For example, previous research has suggested that Generation Xers (those aged between 44 and 59) tend to prioritise long-term career growth and stability over job-hopping, and also prefer a more hands-off leadership approach, valuing independence and autonomy in their work.

By contrast, Generation Zers (those aged between 12 and 27) are more likely to prioritise career advancement and opportunities for skills development, often seeking out new experiences and challenges early in their careers. They also tend to respond well to collaborative and inclusive leadership styles, preferring frequent check-ins and guidance from their superiors.

The research also identified addressing potential “knowledge gaps” (31%) as another significant challenge for those entering the profession, alongside the ability to effectively manage mental health (11%). Other areas mentioned by law firms included client care and meeting professional standards (6%), managing workloads (6%) and legal knowledge gaps (6%).

The 2024 Legal Cheek Firms Most List

The research also examined law firms’ approaches to Continuing Professional Development (CPD), with all 36 respondent outfits confirming they offered “quality” CPD opportunities to their junior lawyers.

Most firms delivered these opportunities either through online seminars (50%), half/full-day courses (33%), conferences (6%), and mentorship schemes (6%), with nearly three-quarters (72%) using a combination of in-house and external training providers to do so.

Regarding areas for further development, firms highlighted personal skills such as resilience and time management as their top priority, followed by business and commercial attributes like leadership and client-focused communication. In addition, firms also flagged core legal skills such as drafting and oral communication, along with specialist/technical legal knowledge.

The most popular considerations by firms when planning a CPD initiative are its relevance to current legal trends and recommendations from lawyers. These were followed by budget constraints and accreditation and compliance requirements.

When evaluating the success of a CPD programme, two-thirds of firms stated that they primarily relied on feedback from participating lawyers. Only 14% identified the impact on lawyers’ job performance as their top consideration.

Finally, we also took the opportunity to question firms about their approach to the Solicitors Qualifying Examination (SQE).

The vast majority of law firms (89%) said that they require non-law students to complete a conversion course before undertaking the SQE. Additionally, all but three firms stressed the need for their future lawyers to pursue supplementary training alongside their SQE studies, with the top three choices being LLM/master’s programmes, practice area-focused modules, and skills-focused courses.

Sixty-four percent indicated that this is arranged through an external provider, while a quarter utilise a combination of external providers and in-house resources. Only 3% — or one firm — stated they would exclusively provide this additional training in-house.

CPD and the SQE will be central topics of discussion at LegalEdCon 2024, Legal Cheek’s annual future of legal education and training conference, taking place in-person at Kings Place, London, this Thursday (16 May). Delegates will hear from a range of law firms and law schools on how they are developing and implementing these programmes as the profession continues to get to grips with the new regime.

19 Comments

Anonymous

Especially on the mental health front. You open up to a partner about your struggling mental health and they look at you like you believe in Santa. That is despite those same partners exhibiting symptoms of mental health issues and being on the verge of a nervous breakdown.

Anonymous

You mean Santa doesn’t exist? 😢

Prancer

This sort of BS is the problem and also an insult to those with genuine mental health issues. Feeling uncomfortable, stressed, anxious etc is not an issue of mental health, it is just life.

Alan

All I will say is the profession is respected, performing to standards and those who cross considerable barriers to enter it are justly rewarded. This was built over generations, all before mental health mumbo jumbo entered the picture, and a good British stiff upper lip was all one needed. Similarly legal professionals worked five days a week in an office, not lounging on their sofa pretending to work.

Why change something that is not broken?

anon

Tell me you’re a boomer without telling me…

Paralegal

“mental health mumbo jumbo”? And you are a lawyer? I feel sorry for your clients (and your family!).

My best friend’s brother suffered for years from bipolar disorder and experienced psychosis during manic episode – despite taking medication. He tried to take his own life when he he had to face the consequences of his actions during mania.
You call it mumbo jumbo?

Alan

You, characteristic of the woke brigade, wilfully have misrepresented me here and provide a false equivalency.

Aside from a lack of evidence the person you refer of being a lawyer, I am of course referring to those who wake up in the morning too lazy to work. What you speak of is a true illness and separate and deserving of treatment and attention.

I do hope you will apologise for this twisting of words, or at the least desist from repeating it.

Anna

Pompous narcissist.

Alan

Very easy to resort to ad hominem when your argument lacks substance.

Archibald O'Pomposity

“And you are a lawyer? I feel sorry for your clients (and your family!).

My best friend’s brother suffered for years from bipolar disorder and experienced psychosis during manic episode”

He’s trolling you, you daft sod. Stop chucking breadcrumbs at him and move on.

Paralegal

having a father who was a solicitor for 30 years who ran a medium size firm in London, iv seen how mental health and work ethics has affected all ages, My father had a break down and was harassed by a client to give her money as she was in debt where he committed fraud and the client took all the money and the police did nothing.. My attempted to end his life multiple times – His partner at the firm asked ‘do I still run the firm?’ I was shocked at that response as it was doing alright – In the end he went to prison and then he retired, He struggled for the last 10 years of his life with money and finding work. I was very angry at him and the client, the justice system and the police.

Anon

This is definitely in the 31% “knowledge gaps”. I can barely make sense of the narrative.

Alan

Please do stop lying, and I’m still awaiting that apology.

Anon

Dear me, Alan, were your feelings hurt? What a snowflake, honestly…

Archibald O'Pomposity

“My father had a break down and was harassed by a client to give her money as she was in debt where he committed fraud…”

The last three words of the quoted text tell us all we need to know.

Even if you’re not pulling this story out of your arse, his status as your father does not excuse his ability to be persuaded into committing fraud due to a few cross words from a client. And given that he has a family, his actions were supremely selfish.

Guys stop fighting please

Alan what on earth is a stiff upper lip? But equally he didn’t mean to say that BPD isn’t real. Although, Alan, Paralegal didn’t say you consider BPD specifically to be mumbo jumbo. They are pointing out that when people say mental health, they mean that. There are other disorders, or acute conditions, that are more high functioning (Alan, this means less noticeable so people don’t help you asm much) like anxiety and depression and those should be taken seriously too. Awareness of both of these has been rising in recent years, and on an objective construction of what you (Alan) said, you’ve referred to all of these conditions as ‘woke mumbo jumbo’. Criticising your tone is not automatically an ad hominem fallacy, though what Anna said is a bit mean. This article is about generational clashes. Can we stop clashing? God I hate centrists idk what came onto me. Stop fighting.

Mid-level

When I was a junior, a peer of mine said to a senior that they wanted to avoid a breakdown.

The senior proceeded to shout at her and say that it wasn’t possible to have a breakdown, that she (the junior) had not been working long enough to have a breakdown, and that she (the senior) had missed her own father’s funeral because of the job.

That peer of mine left to another firm within a couple of months.

Archibald O'Pomposity

And they were right to leave. It makes one shudder to think that people like that senior both exist and thrive in the world of work.

Deed U No

Lawyers on the verge of a nervous breakdown!
Read it.

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