“Each generation imagines itself to be more intelligent than the one that went before it, and wiser than the one that comes after it.” -George Orwell
You may have seen the election news that in 2020, for the first time, Millennials and Gen Z (those born in 1981 or later) will equal Baby Boomers and prior generations (adults born in 1964 or earlier) as a share of all Americans eligible to vote. As an employer or manager, you might also reflect on the fact that Millennials (ages 24-39) are now the largest single segment of the workforce in the United States, with Gen Z coming on fast.
What implications does this seismic demographic shift have for the small law firm?
“Work-life blend,” rather than “balance,” is the watchword for Millennial workers, according to Your ABA, a publication of the American Bar Association. This means that they are not focused on separating essential, but conflicting, life activities and trying to balance them independently. Rather, they are seeking a continuum where all responsibilities, activities, and interests can be satisfied in a lower stress and more integrated manner.
Complementing the ABA article, a study by CompTIA, the world’s leading tech association, shows that 80% of Gen Z workers aspire to use “cutting edge technologies” in their work, over 50% of Millennials currently use cloud-based tools for document management, and an impressive 67% say that a firm’s technology is an important factor in evaluating employers.
Per George Orwell, this massive cohort of new workers must certainly consider themselves to be more intelligent than their older colleagues and superiors when it comes to technology. This naturally leads Millennials to expect technical competence and up-to-date systems of potential employers. As shown by the CompTIA study, talented attorneys, paralegals, and staff gravitate towards firms using technology platforms that facilitate, rather than hinder, work-life blend.
You can use Smokeball’s cloud-based legal management software to your advantage in this environment, making technology a feature of your firm, rather than an objection to be overcome. Smokeball can help advance work-life blend and become a competitive advantage for your firm in a variety of ways.
- The customized, robust forms library streamlines a surprising number and variety of tasks for everyone involved in document production.
- Document management. With legal document management software you will have a digital filing system that organizes and safely stores documents on your servers or in the cloud.
- Collaboration. Millennials have little patience for sorting out email strings, and will appreciate that real time document collaboration is available.
- Automatic time tracking. Get almost instant control and improvement of one of the top three reasons law firms lose money, according to YOUR ABA e-news — failure to contemporaneously record time. This will free your Millennial employees, and all others, from manually tracking their hours, an activity that is not billable in itself, inevitably misses hours that should be billed, and ultimately steals time from family and leisure activities.
- Trustworthy. A change to a cloud-based software system will almost certainly significantly increase your firm’s security profile. This will give Millennials and Gen Z workers comfort that they and their employer will not be exposed to cyberattacks or other existential threats, as described in the ABA Journal.
If you are looking for a final bit of inspiration, consider what Alfred Perlman, a no-nonsense railroad man, said about business processes, “After you’ve done a thing the same way for two years, look it over carefully. After five years, look at it with suspicion. And after ten years, throw it away and start all over.”
Of course, taking Mr. Perlman’s advice can be daunting. To help overcome fear of change, take a look at these helpful tips and then contact us for answers to all of your questions.