January 08, 2014 Practice Points

Generational Shift at the Workplace

By Suzanne L. Jones

In the article, “Will Millennial Men Change the Workplace?” Vivia Chen challenges the notion that “millennial men” (born roughly between 1980 and early 2000) will shake up the workplace.

Joan Williams, a law professor at the University of California at Hastings, argues that millennials and particularly millennial men are pushing for a different work structure. According to Williams, a generational shift is taking place as the mindset of upper-level management is increasingly out of sync with younger men who want schedules that accommodate family needs. As a result, Williams claims that millennial men are beginning to do what women have done for decades: find work that allows greater flexibility for better work-family balance. Lawyers, for example, are leaving Big Law in favor of more flexible career paths.

Chen challenges Williams’ conclusion, noting that while Big Law pays “lip service” to work-life balance, firms are not actually changing the basic work structure. And, according to Chen, Big Law does not need to as firms—and corporations—are flooded with talented applicants ready to do the work.

Keywords: woman advocate, litigation, millennials, work structure


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