Millennials: Building Relationships

Insights & Tips

  • Gap between perception of roles of senior lawyers and millennials
  • Millennials view senior lawyers as mentors & back-up to fix their work
  • Supervising lawyers want associates to perform their work well to provide value for clients

The following is an excerpt from Grover E. Cleveland, Esquire, Above the Law, July 17, 2015.

Understanding how to build relationships with senior lawyers is another challenge for new lawyers. A question on that topic revealed a huge disconnect between PD professionals and their associates. In responding to the statement: “Associates should treat senior lawyers as their clients,” 93% of PD professionals agreed. Only 54% of millennial lawyers agreed.

Why the gap? Some new lawyers view senior lawyers primarily as mentors – or their backup. There is a common misconception among new lawyers that the role of more senior lawyers is to fix the work of junior lawyers. Senior lawyers do not want to do that. Supervising attorneys will perform a quality-control function, but they want junior lawyers to do their own work and do it well. Clients won’t pay for work and rework.

To succeed, millennial lawyers must provide value to senior lawyers, just as those lawyers provide value to external clients. But the concept of providing value can seem foreign to new grads. Providing value is generally not a skill that law schools teach or require.


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