We have been talking with a number of law firms lately and have found some interesting trends that are emerging. They are going through some major changes now in the way they view their workplaces.
Here’s the first of a series:
Demographics in Autralian law firms
- Right now in Australia, most partners are Gen Xers and Baby Boomers. In fact over 90 percent of partners in law firms in Australia are from these generations. This makes sense given it takes a lot of hard work to build your client base and generate the fees needed to become a partner.
- There is a glut of law graduates. In the past 10 years the number of law graduates has exploded. Between 2001 and 2012, the workforce increased by 12 percent while the number of graduates increased by 100 percent.
- By 2025 it is expected that 54 percent of our workforce will be Gen Y and Millennials. At the same time, the retirement age is increasing gradually to 70. This means in all likelihood the 60-and-older workforce will actually increase as a percentage of the workforce.
So, this means it will become harder and harder to become a partner and the next generation, Gen Y, will have to wait longer to make partner. Gen Y, and particularly the Millennials, are used to great, seamlessly integrated technology and flexibility; they probably don’t expect an office when they eventually progress to partner.
Millennials will probably never have sat at a permanent desk in their life, but they will have been educated in schools with ubiquitous Wi-Fi and great presentation technology. They’ll also be used to doing their work with colleagues and teachers on collaboration platforms like Edmodo.
The challenge for law firms in the future will be how to keep this generation engaged as they enter the workforce. To do this, the new law workplace will have to provide:
- Mentoring opportunities: These generations have grown up with helicopter parents, playdates and a heavily scheduled life. They need mentoring to help them grow into experienced and proactive lawyers.
- An important sense of community: Either virtual or physical. Millennials are used to connecting through social networks. However, like everyone else, being part of a physical community is important.
- Team environments and collaboration opportunities: The education system emphasizes team work and collaboration, and the workplace will need to provide these opportunities.
As National Director of Workplace Strategy and Design for Colliers International in Australia, Peter is a workplace strategist and qualified architect with over 25 years’ experience in workplace and base building design, working with clients ranging from Bauer Media Group, AT Kearney, Ricoh, ANZ Bank and Citrix.