New findings from a global recruiter indicate that a substantial number of lawyers from Generation Z see working in-house as a long-term career goal.
Major, Lindsey & Africa has released its Gen-Z: Shaping Tomorrow’s Law Firm Culture survey results, which probed the thoughts, expectations and priorities of the emerging generation as they enter professional life.
The survey was undertaken because, as MLA wrote two years ago, “understanding what motivates Gen-Z is extremely important, because by the end of 2020, Gen-Z will make up 36 per cent of the workforce”.
When asked about their long-term career goals, 30 per cent of respondents – all of whom were born between 1995 and 2000 – said that they plan to go in-house. This marks a significant jump from MLA’s 2019 survey of millennial lawyers (that is, those born between 1981 and 1994), at which time just 18 per cent said they want to work as an in-house counsel.
This increased level of interest in corporate legal life may be explained by worsening perceptions of private practice.
When asked about gender issues, two-thirds (67 per cent) of survey respondents agreed that there is a sexist culture at law firms, and three-quarters (75 per cent) agree that a gender pay gap exists.
This latter finding is substantially different to Millennial perceptions in 2019, at which time 62 per cent said there is such a pay gap. “The belief that there is a gender pay gap in law firms appears to be increasing, not decreasing,” MLA mused.
Moreover, just 55 per cent of Gen Z believe that law firms and partners care about their associates, and only 38 per cent agree that law firm CSR programs are “authentic and valued”.
Perhaps the clearest potential reason for greater interest in in-house work is that 62 per cent of respondents said that law firm partnership is less desirable than it was a decade ago. However, this figure was slightly down from the millennial results two years ago, where 66 per cent said partnership was not appealing.
While MLA surveyed students at US-based law schools, law departments and general counsel should heed the findings if they are to attract and recruit the best talent as Australian businesses look to navigate a potentially turbulent post-pandemic market.