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A question that came to me after a webinar I led on April 14th warranted a longer and widely distributed answer. While the question was focused on law firms, I believe it applies to other types of firms of professionals and knowledge workers as well.

Q: What key changes do you think Gen Y/ Milleninals (same generation) will drive in terms of how law firms operate (e.g. changes to law firm structure and process, changes to hourly rate billing model)?

This is a juicy question to speculate about.  My answer, admittedly, is a combination of realistic trendwatching, projection of typical Gen Y/Millennial traits, and a bit of wishful thinking. Here goes:

I think we will see influenced by the Gen Yers, more flexibility, more demand and existence of diversity and inclusion of all kinds and more representation of Gen Ys (and later generations) in the strategic direction and governance of firms.

Facetime will be demanded to a lesser degree as a daily expectation (appealing because that can reduce real estate costs for firms). Both Gen Y and X will push this through their savvy use of technology and social networks. However, human nature won’t change radically as to the importance of keeping top-of-mind through in-person visibility and interaction and the significance of non-verbal cues in communication. Skype and other video communication from mobile apps will help to change attitudes about non-essential in-person facetime.

Some of these changes will come about more quickly, not because of Millennial demands in general, but because the male Millennials are speaking up publicly - unlike most of the men in prior generations - to admit they want changes in the flexibility and structure that women have been more vocal about. When it’s obvious that the workplace needs to be structured to make it work better for everyone and their clients of all generations and levels (my mission for the last dozen years), change has to come.

We will see more regular collaboration among firm colleagues and with clients. Again, that is happening already. The key to this is the willingness to change compensation systems that often reward lone ranger behaviors rather than the behaviors desired to enable maximizing collaboration and helping others. That means financial incentives for transitioning clients and roles, mentoring, coaching and enabling the best person for both billable and non-billable work to be selected and accept the role 

Billing models have been changing slowly for some time, and not from Gen Y influence. Clients will always be the most important influence and driver of change regarding billing models. Another driver is the success of alternate firm models, including virtual firms that can operate at lower costs and do equivalent quality work. Those firms are being started primarily by the younger half of the Boomers and Gen Xers.

Please chime in with your thoughts, comments, positive and negative and keep a dialogue going. It’s up to all of us, Millennial or not, to help determine the future and use our influence.

Phyllis Weiss Haserot       www.pdcounsel.com 





If you are free on Wednesday, Nov. 17th, I hope you will join us for an important webcast on professionalism. The details and registration click here.  If you can’t make the live webcast, it will be available On Demand.
I will be presenting and moderating a webcast (see below) on  professionalism - what we all aspire to and want others to exhibit in interacting with us. We'll look at professionalism through generational lenses and how to achieve the highest standards of professionalism as an individual and a firm.
I've got a great multi-generational panel with me - and it's sure to be a lively and enlightening discussion.
For lawyers, there is Professionalism CLE credit, which is often hard to come by. So register, and pass this on to your lawyer friends and contacts.
We look forward to your join us.
All best - optimistically,
Phyllis Weiss Haserot and Dick McDermott


Is age diversity causing a disconnect between you or your colleagues and your clients? In tough times firms scrutinize many significant aspects of practice they (unfortunately) overlook in better times. The impact of generational differences should be prominently on that list of items.

Firms should be careful to look at their succession planning through a generational lens as well.

Tensions among the generations in the workplace have been felt for a while - and firms have done little to achieve better harmony. But when it affects client relationships - as it very clearly can and often does - then it gets attention!

For more on what to look for, see my blog post on Legal Current.

Phyllis Weiss Haserot     www.pdcounsel.com


Professionalism is an important concern in the partner transitioning process in many respects. Most crucial, will the successors treat clients in the most professional manner regarding communication, prompt attention to their matters, privacy and confidentiality, ethics and appropriate behavior?

Clients have more choices than ever in choosing and choosing to stay with counsel, and service quality and relationship building has become frequently more important than smarts and technical skill. Firms and client relationship managers need to seriously consider "fit" in a holistic way when selecting and training heirs apparent to step into the shoes of key client contacts, and in fact, the entire client team.

Professional development of the next generation of client relationship managers is a major element of the transitioning process. Members of younger generations may not have learned the interpersonal and relationship building skills necessary at home, in school or during the firm's typical training curriculum. Often they don't realize what is missing. They only know what they have been taught and usually are too busy to seek the coaching they need on their own. Firms need to make sure this training or coaching is provided.

Recognizing the importance of maintaining professionalism, I have created a course on "Professionalism and the Generational Divides" to provide some of the answers and guidance. It will be offered live on the West LegalEd Center on February 28th (available for six months thereafter), with a dynamic multi-generational panel.  Lawyers will be able to earn those hard to get ethics or professionalism CLE credits. Others will learn how to deal with generational differences on professionalism issues. For details and registration for "Professionalism and the Generational Divides,"  click here. I invite you to join us for a lively and insightful discussion.

Phyllis Weiss Haserot      www.pdcounsel.com


I just returned from Cornell Law School reunions. Seeing old friends, making some new ones, mostly beautiful weather and the beautiful campus made for a wonderful time. I had conversations with alums from a wide range of classes, and it's interesting, of course, to hear how they are thinking about their lives as they are farther and farther out from their commencement dates.

Spending most time with people celebrating their 30th, 35th and 40th reunions, one of the things several people told me when they found out about my work on transitioning planning was "You should have been our class speaker." The key topic of conversation for many people age 50 and up was "What do we do next?" As they edged closer to the traditional retirement age - though many don't want to retire - they became more anxious. Spouses articulated concern as well. It is a complex question.

So let's get the talk out in the open. Let's ask the questions. Let's plan early so there is plenty of time before a move has to be made. Let's raise the comfort level with confronting the possibilities for change. Let's surface the exciting choices that can lie ahead.

I'll speak to the classes. I'm ready to ask the questions and get the planning underway. Our *Next Generation, Next Destination* workshops are a great first step. The schools can sponsor them as a service to their alumni.

Phyllis Weiss Haserot       www.pdcounsel.com


I hope you will join me and my guests, Elizabeth Foster-Nolan, Director of Professional Development at Goulston & Storrs and Adele Lemlek, Director of Marketing and Membership for the New York CityBar, for a lively and provocative discussion on best practices for managing and engaging the younger generations (X and Y) and bridging the multi-generational divides. West Legal Ed Center presents this webcast on Wednesday, February 14th from 12:30-2pm Eastern time so please make us your mid-day valentines and get your CLE credits as well when you participate this webcast on one of the most challenging professional development, human resources and marketing issuesof our times.
See below for details and registration.
Looking forward to your questions and insights.
With good wishes,



Please join us - Phyliis Weiss Haserot, president of Practice Development Counsel and Richard T. McDermott are delivering a webcast on partner transitioning planning sponsored by West Legalworks and the West Legal Ed Center on Wednesday, January 24th. Check out the content and registration information at West Legal Ed Center.  It's called The Yellow Brick Road to Transitional Tranquility: Best Practices for Partner Transitioning Planning.

We look forward to talking with you then.

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