Keys to Keeping and Engaging Millennial Talent

by Jessie Spressart /

Engaging Millennial TalentMillennials make up nearly 50% of the workforce today, and by 2025, they will be 75% of the global workforce. Already, the oldest millennials are being promoted to partner and taking on leadership roles in firms – and in client organizations too.  If we want to keep millennials engaged as employees or loyal future alumni, it will be essential for firms to invest in this generation in ways that recognize how they want to learn and work.


One opportunity to do that is by providing millennial lawyers with more strategic exposure to business and client development skills earlier in their careers. Millennials want more transparency and a deeper understanding of a law firms’ business so helping them understand how client relationships develop and grow is one way to give them insight and a way to contribute meaningfully to the firm’s business needs.


Firms that are building the strongest business development programs for millennials are recognizing and planning for three critical success factors:


  • Millennial lawyers understand that having solid business development skills as they move up the ranks is a key to being successful. Meeting their desires for more business development training earlier in their careers leads to higher levels of associate satisfaction and can aid firms in retaining top talent. The most strategic firms are starting to build the foundation early in an associate’s career – some from Day One – recognizing that initial skills must be established and practiced before lawyers can layer on more advanced business development in their mid and senior level associate years and beyond. The key is recognizing that how lawyers apply and practice business development skills should shift over the course of their careers from more internal to external focus.


  • When firms utilize multiple business development learning approaches – rather than taking a “one and done” training approach – millennial lawyers have the ability to actually learn and apply skills to move through the stages of awareness from practice to mastery. Utilizing a variety of development approaches including training, coaching, peer discussion and mentoring also helps millennials deepen their understanding of the firm’s culture and expectations around business development, setting them up for a smoother transition from a supporting role to a primary player as they progress in their careers.


  • Helping millennial lawyers identify their natural business development potential – and then building a plan based on personal strengths – creates a win for lawyers who value customized training and personalized growth plans. For firms, it’s a smart way to develop lawyers by bringing a wider talent pool to the business development table.  By moving away from a “one size fits all” approach to business development, the most advanced firms recognize there are multiple styles and roles that comprise a business development all-star team.  The best firms are seeking to identify the best fit roles of each of their attorneys early on, helping them build their skills and then teaching them how to align their own strengths with others in order to pursue and win opportunities as a team.  Firms that invest in helping lawyers identify their strengths and skills early on are generating the greatest ROI on attorney development.