QI’m a partner in a small firm. We just hired two new associates after a long hiring process. We vetted the hires, checked references, did a good job. We made good decisions. And yet, I just don’t get these kids. Smart, talented, and committed—and yet so inscrutable. Seriously. When discussing legal matters, the new associates—a man and a young woman—are fine, though very green. When discussing anything else outside of the law, and especially when around each other or other new lawyers, it’s as if I’m a lawyer from another planet. I don’t get them. At all. There’s no positives, no happiness, no future really—they seem to revel in watching others fail. It’s all about FAIL. Everything is about FAIL. They revel in FAIL. Honestly, their humor and approach—and they’ve passed around emails to me on occasion proving this—is about the latest FAIL. It’s obnoxious. It drives me nuts.
I try to talk with them, ask questions about what the hell they are talking about half the time. I even read the FAIL blog, but it just depresses me. Who needs more FAIL? And when I try to understand them, I honestly feel like an anthropologist asking questions of the natives. Except I should be the native here, I’m the experienced lawyer. At 52, am I an old man? Thoughts? Is the profession doomed? Oh, and don’t get me started on Facebook and the Twitter.
AWTF? What do you want to do, sit around a conference room and act giddy with the kids? Or practice law? You’re a practicing lawyer. Practice. Let the kids be kids, but obviously hold them to high profesional and ethical standards. Ban Facebook in the office? Useless, as you’ll also need to ban smartphones. But be a mentor to what’s appropriate and what’s not and put their feet to the fire to perform like attorneys. Or fire them.
These “kids,” with JD degrees and likely $100,000 in debt, are green and have no real financial or professional power—except maybe to be obnoxious. Maybe that’s the FAIL generation. But so long as they are obnoxious outside of the law or among their own tribe, what’s the problem? Or, if you want options, here’s what I see:
Guess which one I’d pick?