Bravo! The New York Law Journal is an important publication serving as the paper of record for the legal community. It is also a reliable essential tool for keeping abreast of court decisions, legislation, and hard news about the profession. Susan DeSantis demonstrates how the paper also can be useful and a must read in other ways in her original, well researched, insightful, forward looking article “Millennial Attorneys Explain Why They Flock to Midsize Firms” (Thursday, January 18, p. 1).
The article is a fine example of discerning and attempting to understand trends in what always has been, and now is more so than ever, a dynamic, constantly evolving, competitive profession. Ms. DeSantis breaks free from conventional wisdom and resists looking in the rear view mirror when reporting on where the job market for recent graduates is heading. The result is a report that no doubt is provoking lively discussions about what new lawyers, employers and clients desire as they weigh their options. Unlike so much tiresome, downbeat, and predictable coverage of legal education and law practice, and because she avoided the temptation to pick winners and losers, Ms. DeSantis portrays a vibrant, frankly exciting job market in the new world of law.
Her findings ring true. To their credit, as DeSantis’ extensive interviews underscore, millennials want to make a difference. They seek meaningful work and will pursue opportunities where they can develop professionally. They desire recognition for their accomplishments, and they are interested in jobs that allow personal enrichment and fulfillment outside the office. Millennials are hardly all alike, and, in fact, they respond to circumstances in contrast to the one-size-fits-all past approaches to legal education and entry level jobs in the profession. Now they know what they want, have information about where to find it, and will go after jobs wherever they may be that promise to meet their aspirations.
In this vein, it would be valuable to see even more coverage of developing treads. Increasingly, our graduates, and particularly law graduates pursuing jobs within the tri-state area, in addition to an array of jobs in different kinds of law firms, can find appealing in-house positions and many want to make good use of their legal education in jobs that may not be in a General Counsel’s office. A law degree also can lead to a challenging job in finance or, for example, in a start-up business. Other major career trends point to the multinational, borderless nature of virtually every area of law, the value of proficiency in legal English in a multilingual, multicultural market, and the myriad practical issues relating to how law must be practiced in a digital marketplace. The implications for law schools and the need for them to adapt and adopt prudent innovations is clear. Millennials take a more consumerist attitude toward education than previous generations. As law students, they see themselves as customers paying for a service, and they are quick to judge whether a school rises to their expectations and needs. That is why law schools throughout New York and across the country are changing how and what students are taught, so that their graduates can land the jobs that they desire. This small sample of topics strongly suggests that the readers of NYLJ would benefit from more articles that look around corners at the future.
Nicholas W. Allard is the president and Joseph Crea Dean of Brooklyn Law School.