Pro Bono and Millennial Engagement

In 2015, Millennials (adults born between 1980 and the late 1990s) became the largest share of the American workforce, with many more Millennial employees expected to pour into the workforce in the coming years. This generation’s workplace needs are different than those of their parents and grandparents – as a consequence, employers (including law firms) must make some adjustments if they want to retain the top Millennial hires.

Recent research studies by Network for Good (“Engaging Millennial Employees: Recruit and Retain Top Talent with Cause”) and Achieve/The Case Foundation (“The 2015 Millennial Impact Report”) found that “transactional” needs, such as job security and long-term benefit plans, are less important for Millennials than they were for prior generations. Instead, maintaining the loyalty of Millennials requires keeping them engaged and addressing their social impact goals. Although not monolithic, they prioritize contributing to the greater good and having opportunities to give back to their communities in ways that are personal to them.

Pro bono programs have the unique ability to promote Millennial engagement and boost Millennial retention. Well-implemented pro bono programs foster:

absorption of Millennials into the workplace community: pro bono projects allow for nonhierarchical interaction between experienced attorneys and new hires, contributing to a positive workplace culture that Millennials highly value

training opportunities: Millennials are 77 percent more likely to volunteer if they can use or develop a specific skill

support for disadvantaged and underserved communities: “doing well by doing good” gives Millennials a sense of fulfillment and the knowledge that their law firms have a “purpose beyond profit” keeps Millennials motivated

Law firms can strategically leverage and structure pro bono work to engage attorneys, at all stages of their careers, and create a culture of inclusion, purpose, shared values, and client service.

Share your thoughts and leave a comment: how does your firm’s pro bono program foster Millennial attorney engagement?

Hat tip to PBI intern Maria Vlasie for her help with this post.