Bar News - March 19, 2014
Lawyers Explore Generational Differences at Midyear Meeting
By: Dan Wise
Take 400 + lawyers, put them in a room, and start them talking about how different generations in the same profession look at and do things differently – and the conversation will be hard to stop.
The CLE’s reactor panel (standing, left to right) Kristin Mendoza, Eliana Forciniti, Viktoriya Kovalenko, Stuart Teicher, (seated L-R) Amanda Godlewski, Deanne Chrystal, Robert Stein, Hon. Deborah Rein, Cecie Hartigan, and Quinn Kelley.
The two-hour NHBA CLE program, “Can’t We All Just Get Along?” was the featured Professionalism Day offering at the March 7 Midyear Meeting. The first hour was presented with a New Jersey accent and an entertaining manner, by attorney Stuart Teicher. He touched on three major differences between generations of lawyers.
First, a paradigm shift in the use of technology. The advantage is shifting, Teicher observed, to attorneys who understand the rapidly changing ways the general public uses technology, such as smartphones and email. These changes affect everything lawyers do – client relations, confidentiality, what is considered competency for lawyers, and more. As clients adopt these new technologies, and, for example, begin texting their lawyers and expecting responses in that manner, how do lawyers maintain rapport and also manage clients’ expectations
Second, work-life balance is being redefined. Different generations value their work and personal lives differently. And advances in communication tools that make it easier to work from home blur the lines between home and office.
Third is the presence of generational bias. Arguably, some older lawyers take advantage of their connections and their experience to exploit younger lawyers. Some younger lawyers may use their greater familiarity with technology to gain an advantage over their less adept, older colleagues.
Thanks to NHMCLE Board for Tuition Subsidy
The NH Bar Association thanks the NH Supreme Court’s Minimum Continuing Legal Education Board (NHMCLE) for appropriating a $25,000 tuition subsidy for the Midyear Meeting’s Professionalism Day. For the fifth year in a row, this funding enabled the Bar Association to make the Midyear Meeting experience affordable to virtually all attorneys.
In the second hour, Teicher led a discussion involving a panel of nine NH attorneys and an audience eager to chime in on a handful of vignettes of intergenerational encounters in the legal world. Here are some of the comments made at the event, which will be available for online viewing (and NHMCLE credit) at www.nhbar.org.
“Email is not a more important form of communication than any other form. I don’t jump to answer email just because it’s there.”
“Sending email is sometimes the best and most convenient option. There are many forms of communication available – you have to be thoughtful in choosing which mode.”
“The problem is not that attorneys and judges are overly familiar. The biggest problem is that this kind of personal interaction rarely occurs. There is too much separation between the bench and the bar.”
“New Hampshire is an extremely small state. We have to trust one another.”
“Someone who changes strategy because they know they are dealing with an inexperienced lawyer is doing his client a disservice. They are looking for an advantage instead of looking for an equitable settlement.”
“Some younger attorneys say, ‘I can’t go to this or that social event because I am putting an emphasis on my family.’ But some might argue, ‘How can you be a part of the community if you don’t show up?’”