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New Law Firm Office Suits Millennial Generation

06/23/15

New Law Firm Office Suits Millennial Generation

Our spiritual values shape our physical world. What we hold as moral, beautiful, worthy, sublime, as well as what we believe politically, informs our art and also our architecture. Consider Nixon Peabody, a law firm whose new Washington office bespeaks the egalitarian priority among millennials. Instead of senior partners landing the corner office, with established partners holding the window offices, junior partners the inner offices, and secretaries cubicles, everybody will have the same basic office, with one guest chair. Instead of opaque walls and doors they will have sheet glass to symbolize transparency, democracy, and connection. Also, paralegals and secretaries will attend company meetings, not just partners.

"Several years ago, the attitude of law-firm partners was, 'Millennials are going to have to be like us.' But very quickly, they learned, they're not going to be like us," said Nixon Peabody chief executive Andrew Glincher. "We need to be open to new ideas and keenly aware of what motivates millennials. Especially if we want to attract and retain top talent."

Attracting millennials is like attracting fruit flies. They are nomadic, and buzz around without predictability. "Let's face it, millennials do move around a lot, that is in their collective DNA," said managing partner Jeff Lesk. "So we have to recognize that, but at the same time redouble our efforts to make this the place they want to come to, and want to stay. And the physical space: Have the atmosphere that they enjoy, are captivated and energized by – that is part of our business plan."

Millennials, the largest living generation, are known for being selfish, on the negative end, but also, for having absorbed all the feel good share-share cooperative indoctrination from children's cartoons and elementary school that has characterized education lately. They want to have a purpose, to find a purpose in their career, to be part of something bigger than themselves.

This is why in this firm a new video wall will play loops of stories on what good the firm has done in financing community development projects.

Whereas the Gen X'ers and the Baby Boomers, two notable generations before this one, were used to paying their dues, millennials are accused of wanting everything given to them. They want immediate and equal access to those high up, without setting appointments.

"The first thing people often think of with millennials is their sense of entitlement," the Gen X partner Greg Doran, 43. "Everyone has to work hard and sacrifice here. Nothing is served on a silver platter. But we can't just ignore this generation's needs. We can't just tell them they're wrong. There are some real, legitimate concerns this generation has. We need to listen, understand and manage in a way that's healthy for all generations."

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