“They’re lazy.” “They’re entitled. “They have no drive.” Those are just a few of the many words used to describe “millennials” – kids born between 1981 and 1996.
This young group tends to view things a bit differently than their predecessors, as the New York Law Journal recently reported. In an article entitled “Survival of the Fittest: Millennial Lawyers Are Skipping NY Bar Association Events,” reporter Susan DeSantis claims that young lawyers are not going to bar association events, as frequently or regularly as they should, because they find them uninteresting and lacking any professional relevance.
Why is this younger demographic avoiding a critically important opportunity to interact with more senior attorneys and potential mentors?
First and foremost, membership cost is apparently a big issue.
“The conversation that I have had most often with my peers has been about money,” says 33-year-old Sarah Filcher. “It always boils down to ‘my student loan is due next week, and you want me to shell out another $100 for a bar association event?’”
Filcher also added that she thought employers should foot the bill for these dues and any related event charges, chiefly because young lawyers are carrying six-figure student loans and have little disposable income.
Another factor is that these younger attorneys find the events cumbersome and unappealing and would prefer to do their networking with individuals closer in age, over a cocktail or two.
Andrew Gruna described the choice as you “either come in for a three-hour ethics lecture where you’ll fall asleep or grab a drink with other lawyers.”
And, as Gruna further noted, even when social events are organized by the bar associations, they aren’t that satisfying, either. While he found a tour of the Brooklyn Brewery with other young lawyers somewhat interesting, the event “didn’t provide the networking opportunity that he had hoped.”
“The disconnect is extremely problematic,” noted Lucas A. Ferrara, a partner with Newman Ferrara. “When you lack a connection to a network of established attorneys, or other seasoned professionals, a bar association is the ‘be all and end all.’ For some, it’s the only place to start. And it’s an opportunity that shouldn’t be shirked or ignored. It’s where many of today’s highly successful practitioners, and respected jurists, were afforded a springboard they otherwise wouldn’t have had.”
Michael Weiner, of counsel to Newman Ferrara, concurred, adding, “There’s a symbiotic relationship between young lawyers and bar associations. The efforts of junior lawyers are needed to make pro bono clinics and committees run smoothly. Conversely, there are opportunities for mentoring and for grooming the junior lawyers of today to become the bar leaders of tomorrow. Over the last several years, I’ve taught millennials as an adjunct at several local law schools. They are neither lazy nor entitled, in my experience. Some of the onus lies with more senior lawyers to support and encourage participation be it by subsidizing dues, making scheduling accommodations, and inviting younger lawyers along to participate when we’re attending events, presenting CLEs, or participating on committees and boards.“
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