If you are interested in practicing or teaching leadership, I encourage you to attend the Annual Conference of the International Leadership Association on Oct 24 - 27, 2012 in Denver. I'm on the planning committee and I am very happy with the mix of keynotes, workshops and evening activities we've planned. For more information, go to the registration page.
the most frequent questions I receive from law firm leaders today is "how
should I manage this new generation?"
Millennial Generation (born from 1981-2000) have been entering the workforce
for more than a decade now. Baby Boomer and Generation X leaders are sometimes
perplexed with this tech-savvy, multi-tasking and ambitious group of
Who are the Millennials?
Millennial Generation are said to be "trophy kids" raised by
"helicopter parents." Their parents — often Generation Xers who grew
up as "latchkey kids" with two working parents or a single working
parent — tend to compensate for their lack of available parents by becoming
very involved in their child’s activities. Millennials are used to having a
parent "helicopter" in to save the day, whether it is forgetting
their lunch at school or, as I have heard, appearing alongside their child at
their first job interview.
of communicating a negative self-image, parents of Millennials made sure that
everyone is a winner in childhood competitions, so everyone gets a trophy in
youth sports and activities. This is the "E" generation — a
generation with high expectations of themselves and their workplace; a
generation that feels entitled to a wide range of benefits from society and a
generation that is highly enthusiastic about work and life.
Millennials, work is not a place to go; rather it is a thing to do (and
something that can be done anywhere, from home to Starbucks to the office).
More than other generations, they will surf jobs to be open to new
opportunities. In general, they have a distaste for menial work and red tape.
While they crave feedback, they have difficulties with conflict and negative
feedback. "Paying your dues" is something your grandfather did at
work, and is not for them. One HR manager told me: "Some Millennials seem
to want to fit their work around their personal life, and not the other way
these negative stereotypes, Milliennials have a lot to offer their employers.
In school, they were subjected to years of group projects, resulting in better
teamwork and collaboration skills than prior generations. They are highly
networked, skilled at using social and virtual networks to accomplish goals.
They are optimistic about the future. They want to save the world and focus
their altruism through volunteerism, pro bono work and philanthropy.
the most vexing characteristic of this generation to law firm leaders is their
attitudes and behaviors at work. To some Baby Boomer and Gen X managers,
Millennials have appeared unengaged with work, aloof and entitled. These issues
often arise around the issue of work/life balance. Millennials are perceived by
Baby Boomers (who are sometimes seen as workaholics) and Gen Xers (who felt
like they had to work hard to compete with Boomers) managers as wanting too
much life balance and not enough work.
How to Manage Millennials
goal in managing Millennials is to help them find the balance they seek while
getting work done (and done well). Here are some tips on managing Millennials:
1. Be the leader. Have a clear
vision of the future for your team. Clearly communicate expectations to every
team member. Give very specific direction, especially for new team members.
Focus on encouraging positive behavior and attitudes. Don’t forget your role as
2. Give meaning to work. Demonstrate
how work makes a difference to clients, the firm and the community. Communicate
the why, not just the how. Find ways for your team to give back,
including group volunteer or pro bono projects.
3. Give feedback. Develop a team
culture where constructive feedback among all team members is the norm. Don’t
wait until the annual review to give feedback. Integrate feedback into your
daily management routine.
4. Share power. Respect their ideas and
contribution. Find ways to give them a say in decisions and access to
management without abdicating your role as leader. Focus on participatory
leadership without making it a democracy.
5. Provide a clear path for advancement.
Provide options to advance in the department. Illustrate a career path. Promote
from within as much as possible. Support learning opportunities, including LMA
and industry conference participation. Open the doors for experiential and
on-the-job training in other disciplines.
6. Reward and encourage. Understand
what motivates each individual team member and find ways to reward her or his
effort and results with personalized rewards. Focus on performance-based
incentives such as time off, sports or concert tickets, additional training or
conference attendance. Reward performance publicly and with fairness. How you
reward people should reflect the values of the team and firm.
7. Be flexible. Understand that how the world
works is changing and be open to flexible work arrangements. Focus on the
quality and completion of projects, not location. Understanding that
face-to-face time is important in many jobs, be clear with team members what is
negotiable and what is not regarding work location.
8. Encourage team work. Millennials
will naturally want to work in small groups. Communicate that it is OK to work
in groups, with certain parameters, such as deadlines, work quality and
accountability. Be clear with the limits you set. Find a conference room or
other shared space reserved for team work. Track contribution to team work and
give feedback to both under contributors and over contributors.
9. Create community. Millennials
look to work as a social outlet. Find time and ways for team members to get to
know each other on a personal level. Bring back the monthly team lunches, go
bowling or skiing together, take the team to happy hour to celebrate a team
success. Have fun.
10. Leverage their strengths. Look to the
Millennials on your team to tackle technology-oriented projects such as
coaching lawyers on how to use LinkedIn or Twitter. Let them use their extensive
network to build relationships with peers in client industry associations. Plug
into their altruistic nature to lead firm volunteer and pro bono
Millennials who want to succeed in a Boomer and X’er dominated work place,
consider this advice:
1. Learn the language of success.
Understand the "optics" of your behavior, including use of
smartphones, how you dress, when you arrive and leave work. Showing old
fashioned manners, listening carefully and being grateful will earn points with
2. Use your strengths. Find ways to
leverage technology to do your job more effectively and efficiently. Be a
leader in your firm and the community.
3. Build your network. Tap into your
network to make introductions to others for business development.
4. Show initiative and autonomy. Most jobs
don’t have a definitive checklist or path to get the "A." It is
better to try and fail (and learn from your mistakes) than not to take any
action at all. Communicate often and ask questions.
5. Realize that constructive feedback is a gift. Welcome
feedback to improve your performance and career options. Don’t take it
a new generation enters the workplace, a shift occurs. How people get work done
changes. The entrance of this generation will be no different. How law firm
leaders manage these enthusiastic, optimistic and ambitious employees will
determine whether their teams succeed.
Beese is President of Leadership for Lawyers, LLC. He helps lawyers and law
firm leaders become more effective leaders and business developers through
consultation, training and coaching. Mark may be reached at [email protected].
Originally published in ALM’s Marketing
the Law Firm Newsletter, July 2012. www.leadershipforlawyers.com.
The College of Law Practice Management presents the Futures Conference on October 26-27, 2012 at Georgetown Law in Washington, DC. Anyone interested in the future of law practice and legal business should attend. Click here to register
NEW MODEL LAW FIRMS Big Law has never been the only option for general counsel. Today, many alternatives exist, including “new model law firms.” This panel will examine how these firms do business, practice law, differentiate, serve clients, and offer lawyers a different work experience. We will also hear from the founding visionaries on where they think the law firm market is heading. Moderator: Ron Friedmann, Fireman & Co. Consulting Panelists: Mark Cohen, Clearspire; Ben Lieber, Potomac Law Group PLLC; Andy Daws, Riverview Law, and Patrick Lamb, Valorem Law Group.
THE CHALLENGES OF DIVERSITY IN A NEW STAFFING ENVIRONMENT Law firms are adjusting the traditional personnel model, reducing the number of equity owners and adding new tiers of service providers. But the challenge of diversity remains. A nationally-recognized expert in diversity issues within law firms and other legal settings, Verna Myers will address what legal employers can do to tackle this critical issue. Speaker: Verna Myers, Verna Myers Consulting Group LLC, author of Moving Diversity Forward.
LEGAL ACADEMY RESEARCH PROJECT Reports on two research projects underway at the Center for the Study of the Legal Profession, Georgetown Law: Integration and Fragmentation in the Modern Law Firm; Developing Attorneys for the Future: What Can We Learn from the Fast Trackers? Moderator: Mitt Regan, Georgetown Law Panelists: Juliet Aiken, Georgetown Law; Heather Bock, Georgetown Law and Lisa Rohrer, Georgetown Law.
THE CONSUMER LAW REVOLUTION The panel will consider such questions as: How is technology changing delivery of legal services to consumers? How is technology changing how lawyers who serve consumers practice? Do we see signs today that consumer law developments are already doing so? Will constraints - for example, client or lawyer conservatism, immature technology, or ethical barriers - limit a more rapid evolution or a real evolution? Moderator: Tanina Rostain, Georgetown Law; Panelists: Stephanie Kimbro, Burton Law LLC; Michael Mills, Neota Logic, and Marc Lauritsen, Capstone
EXPLORING THE NUANCES OF VALUE In 2011, a panel focused on defining value. Now, in this panel discussion, we take the next step, as law firm and inhouse representatives explain how alternative arrangements are developed and tweaked so that both sides can derive value. Moderator: Aric Press, American Lawyer Media Panelists: Toby Brown, Akin Gump; Mark Chandler, Cisco Systems.
FUTURE OF MANAGING PARTNERS The future demands a new focus in law firm management. This panel, featuring extraordinary managing partners, examines the critical roles and responsibilities of MPs in firms of all sizes—and what the panelists see as the future challenges and opportunities in firm management, including managing talent at all levels and “getting things done” in ways that most benefit the firm, its people and its clients. Moderator: John Michalik, JJeyEm Consulting and author of The Extraordinary Managing Partner, Reaching the Pinnacle of Law Firm Management Panelists: Thomas Grella, McGuire Wood & Bissette, P.A.; Fredrick Lautz, Quarles & Brady LLP; Charles Vigil, Rodey, Dickason, Sloan, Akin & Robb, P.A.; Ward Bower, Altman Weil, Inc.
THE NEW NORMAL FROM THE GENERAL COUNSEL PERSPECTIVE General Counsel face continuing pressure to control costs while coping with growing demands for legal advice. In a panel organized by the Association of Corporate Counsel, you will hear how experienced law department leaders respond to this pressure and what it means both for their department operations and the law firms they retain. Moderator: Amar Sarwal, ACC Panelists: Scott Chaplin, Jorge Scientific Corporation; Susan Hackett, Legal Executive Leadership and Eric Margolin, CarMax, Inc.
LEGAL SERVICES UPDATE 2012 has been a year of intense pressure on low-income people facing legal problems and unfortunately, intense pressure on the legal aid organizations that serve them. In these tough times, law practice management expertise and best practices are needed more than ever to improve efficiency, buoy up morale, tune up staffing and employ new technologies. During lunch, Jim Sandman, President of the Legal Services Corporation and a 2012 College fellow-elect, will update attendees on bleak conditions facing LSC and describe a new mentoring initiative in the planning stages that will expand the pro bono consulting the College can offer to legal aid.
YouTube. The word
evokes images of cute kittens, crazy stunts and viral video classics, like what
happens when you mix Diet Coke and Mentos.
It’s not the place where you would expect to find interesting and
helpful videos on timely legal topics by some of the leading lawyers on the
Earlier this month I was a panelist in a webinar sponsored
by the Social Media Special Interest Group (SIG) of the Legal Marketing
Association. Our topic was how to use video in the legal marketing media
mix. My co-panelists were two brilliant marketing
innovators, Adam Stock, CMO of Allen Makins and Adam Severson, CMO of Baker Donelson. Adam, Adam and I have all used video to
effectively market lawyers and their services.
The webinar was a primer on legal marketing videos
Why use video?
“Web pages that feature video are 40 to 50 times more likely to end up on the
first page of Google” said Adam Stock, “Google loves video. It is great for SEO”(Search Engine
Optimization). The Allen Makins web site
saw an increase of 30% more traffic after they started to use video on their
home page. The site now features more
than 150 videos.
“Video gives you the ability to deliver emotion like
no other media. It is the best way to
capture an attorney’s personality.
Clients hire lawyers, not firms.
Video gives clients a chance to get to know our lawyers” claimed
“At Allen Matkins we took an
approach of experimenting by creating videos of types of communications we
would normally do with clients. This provided us a basis for comparing the
performance of videos to written/online communications formats. The strategy
that we used and the results that we got are summarized in this video that was
created for the 2012 LMA Your Honor Awards.”
Adam Seversen saw an increase in web
traffic of more than 500% once they started using video to promote their
“Entrepreneurial Minute Videos”. Baker
Donelson sends a weekly email to a growing list to promote their Emerging
Companies industry group, featuring a one to three minute video on topics of
interest to entrepreneurs. The practice
group page quickly became the most visited practice group page on their web
site. The email featuring the video tip
of the week also has attracted attention of traditional media and has been
reposted on industry blogs.
“Well produced video on law firm web sites
builds credibility for the attorneys and the firm” said Mark Beese. “Video is
also very mobile-device friendly. As
much as 30% of law firm web traffic originates from a phone or tablet.”
When to use video?
The panelists have used video in a
variety of ways, including:
Micro-sites promoting a particular industry or
practice group. Videos become mini-news
stories to illustrate an aspect of the law or how a court ruling could affect clients.
Event invitations or announcements – Use a brief
video to create excitement around a conference, seminar or merger announcement.
Community involvement. Video is a powerful tool to communicate
stories, including how an attorney’s involvement in a charity makes a
difference in people’s lives.
Highlight and recognize clients of the firm (with
their written permission).
Introducing a new service, product or solution
to a complex problem.
Email newsletters, blogs and throughout your web
Internal communications about a new initiative,
service or practice group.
How do I start using video?
Start with something newsworthy. Consider creating a video for what you might
include in a client newsletter. Promote
by email, blog and social media. Avoid
boring “about the firm” or “attorney bio” videos. Snooze.
Consider hiring a professional
videographer/editor to start out. Aim
for broadcast-level production levels.
After you get a hang for it, considering buying a quality HD camera,
editing software and training someone in your firm to edit and produce videos.
Animations, professional titling and graphics
make a video more like what people are used to seeing on television, and
therefore appear more professional.
Be aware of small things that can be a
distraction, such as background noise and bad lighting.
Keep the video length to no longer than three to
Host your video on Youtube.com and imbed the
link to your website or blog page.