Leading the Future Workplace

The legal profession is undergoing unprecedented change. Law school enrollment is down. Law school debt is up. Clients are looking for quicker, faster, cheaper work. And start-ups are exploiting inefficiencies in the legal market. The profession is changing more quickly than we can even imagine. For you reading this however, the question to ask isn’t, “What just happened?” but rather, “How will you lead it?”

See, work isn’t the only thing that’s changing. The workplace is changing too. If you are a leader in our Future Workplace, you may need to ask yourself some difficult questions to learn how to get the best performance out of your workforce.

How is the workplace changing? Let’s start with demographics. We now have four generations in the workplace, each with different traditions and different approaches to work. And of those four generations, Millennials represent approximately 50% of the workforce. By 2030, 75%. This statistic should be of crucial importance to you as a workplace leader, not just because of the different generations, but also because of demographic shifts.

A recent CNN report noted that of the 76 million baby boomers in America, 72% of them are white. However, of the approximately 87 million Millennials, only 56% are white. And this has a lot to do with immigration. By 2050, our national population will be 399.8 million, around 80 million more than our current population. Between 2012 and 2050, around 41.2 million immigrants will arrive in this country. If previous trends hold true, they’ll arrive from Mexico, India, the Philippines, China, Vietnam, El Salvador, Cuba, Korea, the Dominican Republic and Guatemala.

Now this diverse workforce is entering a completely transformed organizational workplace, a workplace moving from hierarchal to flat. A hierarchal organization is precisely how many large law firms are organized today. Managing partner at the top, equity partners in the middle, income partners below, junior attorneys segregated by year and status, then staff segregated by department.

READ MORE Chicago Lawyer  April 2016  Professionalism on Point

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Michelle Silverthorn

Michelle Silverthorn

After spending seventeen years living in the Caribbean, Michelle undertook a number of around-the-world detours before ending up at the doorstep of the Commission, including four years as a general litigator in New York and Chicago. She remembers pretty much everyone she’s met in her travels but she would especially like to meet again the passengers on a January 2001 flight from Miami to JFK. At the pilot’s request, they donated enough money for Michelle, who had her wallet stolen, to get back to college safely. She would very much like to tell them all thanks.
Michelle Silverthorn

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