January/February 2020

Managing

Hiring Young Lawyers in a New Era

Thomas C. Grella

My law firm recently lost a partner who decided to move out of the state for personal reasons, leaving a void in one of our important practice areas. Firm leadership believed that this void could not be filled absent another collective partner venture into the hiring process—a journey we have all experienced before. Each journey down this road brings new learning experiences. The process of scrutinizing  several candidates this year was no exception.

Learn to Overcome Generational Biases

As has become a custom at my firm, after conducting an initial round of interviews with potential candidates, informal one-on-one discussions commence among partners who conducted the interviews. Through this process, it appeared there was a consensus front-runner for the open position. We also discovered that we had each arrived at common conclusions about each of the other candidates for the position. As to one candidate, we all concluded that there seemed to be a lack of direction, and possibly a work ethic deficiency. As to another who was also not the front-runner, we had all concluded quite the opposite. As I think back on the interview process, I believe that we had all arrived at these common conclusions based on the demeanor and verbal responses of a Millennial interviewee, created through Baby Boomer or Generation X lenses.

Upon completion of face-to-face interviews, our chief operation officer digs for more information on each candidate, including follow-up with past employers. In this most recent process, what was discovered was eye-opening. By speaking to those with direct experience and regular, sustained contact with each of our Millennial candidates, we discovered that the conclusions reached were the opposite of what had been the experience of past employers. In fact, in one candidate we assumed had energy, initiative and creativity, but the report was that these qualities were lacking. In the other, it was the opposite.

 

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