May 01, 2020 The Management Issue

A Sense of Belonging: Stopping Your Firm’s Revolving Door

Accountability, transparency and a sense of belonging can go a long way in keeping younger attorneys at your firm.

Sabrina P. Rockoff
A row of young professionals are seated listening to a presentation.

A row of young professionals are seated listening to a presentation.

Mikolette via Getty Images

You might expect an article about the hiring and retention of younger attorneys to begin with a discussion of generational differences—the Boomer, the Gen Xer and the “dreaded” Millennial. I have participated in several conferences where managing partners from around the country gathered with the primary intention of dissecting these foreign beings infiltrating our places of work—the Millennials. These conferences often focus on Millennials’ differing values and demands as if one Millennial were interchangeable with the next, entering and exiting through the revolving doors of our offices.

But, while generational differences are important, understanding a generation is not the key to solving your firm’s hiring or retention difficulties. Instead, I believe that cultivating a sense of belonging is essential to retaining younger attorneys. So, rather than focusing on the differences between partners and young associates, find the similarities. And rather than adopting broad policies intended to address the expectations of a generation, listen to your associates and invest in their particular futures. In other words, instead of treating younger attorneys as “others” to be studied, remember they are human, just like you.

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