Big Law, Generation Z, and Legal Technology — A Conversation With Joshua Lenon of Clio

Joshua Lenon Interview — Part 2

Regarding new attorneys coming into the legal profession, what do you see as the primary difference between millennials and Gen Zers?

I think the biggest difference is a willingness to share. One of the interesting things about the youngest generation entering the practice of law right now is that there are communities, especially on social media, that are very transparent about their careers: what’s working for them and what they think might be perceived as unfair. There’s a lot of sharing of information that before was kept private among millennials and previous generations.

So, you’ll see discussions about salary. You’ll see discussions about workload. You’ll see discussions about which partners are really working in the best interest of their associates and which law firms aren’t. And that sharing is something that’s being done publicly and that difference in a sharing culture goes all the way through the work duties that they consider well worth their time and investment, as well as the law firms that they think are a good investment for them as well.

How does the transparent and sharing culture of Gen Zers impact established law firms? It seems disruptive.

It definitely is, but I don’t think that’s a bad thing. Disruption is not inherently good or bad. You have to find ways to make it good and the established culture, especially in Big Law, is one of not sharing.

We have the origination fees for clients, for example, where “That’s MY client, I’m going to hold on to that relationship.” The generational difference is seeing that if somebody can help, they should be helping, and we should be sharing that opportunity to help. So the younger associates entering these bigger law firms are a bit perplexed that they’re being siloed away from clients, that there’s not more sharing of expertise across the law firm for the benefit of clients.

So, in a law firm, that disruption could actually be a good thing if we’re looking at how it benefits the clients. Now, am I, as a Big Law partner, able to, for the benefit of my client, reach out to these eager young associates who are looking to contribute and are interested in the subject matter and want to develop the expertise on behalf of our client to serve their interests. Why wouldn’t I take advantage of that?

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