Can You Say Millennial? Law Firm employees learn to all get along.

        Old woman         At a dinner the other night, I realized (possibly for the first time) that generational differences in communication absolutely existed.  It started when a group of Millennials at the far end of the table were discussing Kardashian’s spilt from her husband of 72 days, the reported $17 million earned working up towards the $10 million wedding (netting an assumed profit of $7 mil to get dressed up and have a little fun) and whether the whole thing was fake or real.  

                In the meantime, at the other end of the table, a group of  Baby Boomer friends began to chat about issues of the day that were important to them:  Zantac, Phazyme and Breathe Right Strips. 

    What brought my sudden awareness about was a book I was asked to review by Jim Finkelstein, called “Fuse” that talks about the differences between employees fresh out of school and their more seasoned counterparts.  Until dinner of the other night, I had pretty much been ignoring the mashup that fuses the experience and command of Boomers with the techno-smart and boundary-less thought of Millennials.

                “Know thyself,” the sages advise.  And they also like its corollary, “Know thy neighbor.” Excellent advice if you are a paralegal working in a law firm that brings on both Boomers and Millennials – a sure thing if the firm recruits first years. Here is one place where the more you know, the more effective you become.

                If you are going to exist in today’s legal field, you’re going to have to work with both Boomers and Millennials.  The differences in learning experiences result in differences in characteristics in the workplace. Boomers methodically learned the facts they would need to pass the test.  Millennials learned  through constant connection, multitasking, co-creation and shared experiences.  They use experiential trial and error, constantly check their network feedback and actively create the learning experience.     

             Finkelstein offers some tips on how to work together.  After listening to the folks at dinner, I decided that I had better pay attention. So, with an extra Zantac and the expectation that my Breathe Right Strip is waiting patiently for me on my night table, I share these valuable tips for working with Millennials in your firm:

                1)            Don’t expect everyone in your firm to immediately embrace Millennial attitudes.  As Beck and Wade, authors of Got Game say, “Reality changed much faster than our attitudes.” Make sure you and your firm’s attitudes are up-to-date.

                2)            80% of Millennials dislike their jobs. The average Millennial will have 8.6 jobs between the ages of 18 – 31.  Revamp your employee reward and recognition programs. Rewards that please Millennials will probably cost less but mean more:  time off, flextime, pro bono work, networking opportunities and concert tickets are great motivators.

                3)            Embrace some failure.  It is a sure sign that Millennials are learning. Millennials also want EQ (Emotional IQ) – an emotional connection to their employers, work and colleagues. Millennial-friendly firms are empathetic.

                4)            Smart firms assign Millennial employees to make their presence known in the social media sphere.  They constantly update social networking sites with what’s hot in the organization and what socially responsible issues the firm cares about.

                5)            The average Millennial works just six hours per day. You can set minimum billable hours of 1800 per year but getting them may pose a problem.

                6)            Provide simple pleasures. Invest in a Wii or a Ping Pong table. Watch your employee satisfaction scores climb. Instant gratification keeps on giving. Stock upon movie tickets, Peet’s Coffee gift cards and other small tokens of appreciation. Give them out the minute you see Millennials doing something noteworthy.

                7)            Pay for performance is the compensation system the Boomers typically use to set and increase pay. It doesn’t work for Millennials. Paying for potential (an entire different post) is the way to motivate Millennials.

                 8)            MIllennials speak bluntly, question everything and are not obsequious. For Boomers, this can be frustrating. If you want to learn more about how Millennials communicate and think, access the same media they do. Read Wired, The Onion, www.io9.com.  Watch The Daily Show, The Colbert Report. Listen to top playlists on Apple’s iTunes and www.BlogTalkRadio. Browse through YouTube.

    Report. Listen to top playlists on Apple’s iTunes and www.BlogTalkRadio. Browse through YouTube. Read HuffPo or Perez Hilton.  And for heaven’s sake, sign up for Twitter.

                9)            Get on Facebook.  Millennials see the world, get their news, connect with peers, shop, play games and share their lives here.

                10)          Appreciate the differences. If you are a Millennial, learn the language of the Boomers. Millennials are not afraid to jump ship.  Woo the ones you want to stay but avoid employee relations reruns.  The workplace is not a democracy.


Going On's.....This 'n Thats.....


Fighting computers
Tough week?  Take a few moments to enjoy our guest blogger, Celia Elwell, RP and senior paralegal, who sends us interesting links and articles.  Enjoy!

Judge Throws Out RICO Claims Against Johnson & Johnson, by Shannon P. Duffy, The Legal Intelligencer
http://www.law.com/jsp/pa/PubArticlePA.jsp?id=1202504306265

Federal Judge Dismisses BP Oil Spill Fraud Lawsuit, by Maureen Cosgrove, JURIST
http://bit.ly/odVde4

Jury Awards $900 Thousand In Age Discrimination Case, by Ellen Simon, Employee’s Rights Post Blog
http://bit.ly/r7kUkO

Third Circuit Okays Collection of DNA from Criminal Suspects, by Nathan Koppel, Wall Street Journal Law Blog
http://on.wsj.com/mQC5sq

Preparing Americans for Death Lets Hospices Neglect End of Life, by Peter Waldman, Bloomberg
http://bloom.bg/qL6P6N

LegalZoom Sued by Alabama Bar Group for Unauthorized Practice, by Stephanie Rabiner, Strategist, The Findlaw Law Firm Business Blog
http://bit.ly/nBb9LF

The Grey Area of Unauthorized Legal Practice, Law Librarian Blog
http://bit.ly/oDq22g

Handle Loaded E-Discovery Tools With Care, by Sean Doherty, Law Technology News
http://bit.ly/pVg1KW

Are Student Cell Phone Records Discoverable?, by Joshua A. Engel, Law Technology News
http://bit.ly/pk7clJ

Conn. High Court Dismisses Criminal Case for Discovery Abuse, by Christian Nolan, LTN Law Technology News, Law.com
http://bit.ly/nyp7KZ

Writing to Persuade, Legal Writing Prof Blog
http://bit.ly/n3mhTR

So Your Screwed up That Research Memo to the Partner, Now What?, Legal Skills Professor Blog
http://bit.ly/oansmQ

Typography for Lawyers - the book, by Raymond Ward, the (new) legal writer
http://bit.ly/etBTsq

The Importance of Printing it Out, by Raymond Ward, the (new) legal writer)
http://bit.ly/p33PeT

In a Field of Reason, Lawyers Woo Luck Too, by Benjamin Wieser, The New York Times
http://nyti.ms/qoY5P4

10 Reasons Why Most Lawyer Blogs Are Boring, by Cordell Parvin LLC, JD Supra Blog
http://bit.ly/osOfeE

Why Facebook's Facial Recognition is Creepy, by Sarah Jacobsson Purewal, PCWorld
http://bit.ly/oT2Dhb

Spies Like You?, by Josh Hyatt, CFO Magazine
http://www.cfo.com/article.cfm/14586837

5 Tips for Selecting PPC Keywords, by Jason Tabeling, Search Engine Watch
http://bit.ly/mUz34k

Gmail’s New Features: A First Look, by Eric Mack, PC World
http://bit.ly/oaX2kP

Google Plus for Lawyers, Legal Skills Professor Blog
http://bit.ly/nO4iUl

Online CLE Session: 60 iPhone and iPad Apps in 60 Minutes for Lawyers, iPhone J.D.
http://bit.ly/qmSl8F

MoreLaw Lexapedia (includes Verdicts and Decision, Recent Case Law Updates, and other valuable links)
http://www.morelaw.com/

Plain Language (a federal government website - check out Tips and Tools)
http://www.plainlanguage.gov/

Asset Search Blog published by Fred L. Abrams, Attorney
http://www.assetsearchblog.com/

Municode (free access to most municipal codes)
http://www.municode.com/


"She knows there's more to diversity than lip service"

Don't you just love it when someone puts her money where it counts? This Houston Chronicle story tells about that & more:

"Cathy Lamboley's epiphany changed both her wardrobe and the way some Houston law firms do business.

"Lamboley, who last week announced her upcoming retirement as general counsel of Shell Oil Co., used to wear corporate-issue business suits with those ubiquitous pouffy bow ties.

"Now she leans toward expressive buttery-soft leather jackets adorned with carefully chosen Mexican and Southwestern jewelry.

"Law firms in Houston that wanted lucrative legal work from Shell used to have to agree with the goal of diversity.

"Now they have to prove they are using more and more minority and female lawyers on Shell's multimillion-dollar legal business."

[snip]

"Carolyn Benton Aiman, a lawyer at Shell, said Lamboley's work at the company made it the kind of place she wanted to come to work. Aiman, an African-American, said it mattered to her that she could see people like her who were successful at the company.

"'Cathy changed the landscape here,' Aiman said. 'She opened opportunities, opened eyes and challenged presumptions.'"


Take Our Daughters and Sons to Work Day

So, what do you do for this big day? Take your kids to work? Does your firm or company participate? 

"Take Our Daughters and Sons to Work Day has grown from a modest scope in its pilot year to include businesses large and small, unions, hospitals, manufacturing plants, arts groups, social agencies, schools and government offices. The latter list has included NASA, the CIA, the courts and legislative bodies.

"This year, the U.S. Senate expects 300 participants. That body now has 16 female senators. Fifteen years ago, it had two.

"Some workplaces simply invite employees to have their children, or someone else's, shadow them for the day. Others hold organized activities.

[snip]

"The law firm Cohen & Grigsby, which has held events on and off over the years, will introduce about 50 children to a range of careers, including paralegal, accountant and technology expert. They'll also visit the courtroom of Allegheny County Common Pleas Judge Christine Ward."


"Male Paralegals: Is There Really a Glass Elevator?"

Very interesting question raised on LawCrossing. Diversity in the workplace is good, right?

"It is not uncommon these days to see more men doing traditionally female jobs such as teaching preschool and kindergarten and working as librarians, legal assistants or paralegals, bank tellers, speech pathologists, secretaries, data-entry workers, nurses, or even maids. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, in 2005, 13.7% of paralegals were men. In 2004, the percentage was barely 11%.

"Experts who study the labor market have hypothesized that an unstable job market may lead more males to seek employment in alternative careers. And does that come as a surprise? Women who cross into traditionally male-dominated professions often do so for financial reasons and end up earning bigger paychecks than they would in traditionally female jobs.

"Men who do the reverse may not be rewarded with larger salaries, but they may find more job security. Additionally, men are frequently able to advance further and faster in traditionally female jobs than their female counterparts. This is what is sometimes known as the glass-elevator [or escalator] effect [PDF].

"Howard Lee is a legal assistant at law firm Allen, Allen, Allen & Allen in Richmond, VA. He said that he feels being a man in a traditionally female profession has its benefits.

"'I feel [male] paralegals have great chances of securing final interviews and, ultimately, job placement,' said Lee. 'Many HR departments are trying to get more diversity in the paralegal workforce.'"


"Give Women A Fair Pay Day"

Think your salary is fair & equitable? Responses might just depend on your gender:

"We’re coming up on Equal Pay Day again. That’s the day in April every year—this year the 24th—when women’s earnings finally catch up with what men made by December 31 of the previous year. Women’s groups, led by the National Committee on Pay Equity, will rally on Capitol Hill to call attention to the issue.

"The pay gap is still a stubborn problem, with women who work full time, year-round making 76 cents to a man’s dollar. Though it consistently polls number one with female voters in election years, politicians don’t seem motivated to do much about it.

"Some people say pay disparities between women and men are an illusion—women just like to choose jobs that pay less because they’re not as risky or have shorter hours. But the data don’t back up these claims [PDF]. Even when researchers take into account such factors as part-time work or time out of the work force to care for kids, the numbers show that men make more. Another problem that just won’t go away is that so-called 'men’s jobs' like plumbing, pay more than 'women’s jobs,' like nursing. That tells us something about what we value as a society, and it’s not women’s work."

Author Martha Burk is a political psychologist and director of the Corporate Acountability Project for the National Council of Women's Organizations.


"Women's Work: Never Too Nice"

So, are you too nice at work? Or not nice enough? This article explains the drawbacks of both:

"Working women were once kept beneath the glass ceiling because they were considered 'too nice.' Now they're being held back because they aren't nice enough.

"In an effort to erase gender discrimination, many companies have been abandoning their emphasis on stereotypical male qualities like assertiveness, and seeking workers with interpersonal sensitivity and people skills. Or 'qualities usually associated with women,' says Peter Glick, a professor of psychology at Lawrence University in Wisconsin. Ironically, what he calls the "feminization" of companies may work against women lacking the outgoing attributes that employers now expect from them—attributes that employers don't expect from men."


"Does a Provocative Pose Help or Hurt a Job Search?"

Well, this is an interesting question. Legal blogger Carolyn Elefant pointed it out on Legal Blog Watch. [Links below from original post.]:

"Over at Counsel to Counsel, Stephen Sackler wonders whether a law firm will hire the photogenic female law student who posed for this photo that's now permanently cached on the Internet.

[snip]

"...Personally, I've always thought that a job applicant's good looks and sex appeal, (particularly, when the applicant is female) are an asset in getting hired.  Down the line, perhaps, good looks can prevent career advancement because purportedly, employees do not always take attractive people, particularly, women seriously...."

Do you agree with Carolyn?


Jury Finds Paralegal's Sexual Harassment Claims True

Bad behavior from lawyers who have no excuse. But I've seen this kind of news before:

"A law firm specialising in sexual harassment cases has itself been proven to have practised sexual harassment and ordered to pay $368,000 to a Roseville woman who worked at the firm as a paralegal.

"The Martinez-Senftner Law Firm, Roseville, CA, handles a variety of civil and criminal work, including sexual harassment cases. The victim's identity has been withheld following the two week trial which found that the law firm should have known about the allegations but did nothing to stop them. The woman received $68,000 general damages and $300,000 punitive damages. The law firm was named in the suit along with Jim and Wayne Senftner, the law firm owner's husband and son."


Cross-Dressing Lawyer Hangs Up His Dress

I just couldn't pass up news about a lawyer supporting women in law, albeit in a rather different way:

"A male lawyer who appeared in court dressed in women's clothes as a protest against what he said was New Zealand's overly masculine judiciary was suspended Wednesday after being found to be in contempt of court.

"The New Zealand High Court found Rob Moodie, a 68-year-old, balding man who appeared in court in dresses and toting a handbag, was in contempt for circulating suppressed documents outside the court in one of his cases.

Moodie officially changed his name to 'Miss Alice' as part of his protest against the 'old boys network' that he said runs the nation's judiciary, and was granted an award for the most bizarre conduct by a lawyer in 2006 by London's The Times newspaper."