Herbert Smith Freehills: Workplace Transformation and the Next Generation Employee

Today’s unique perspective is direct from the NextGen Lawyers of Herbert Smith Freehills who detail the desires and values they hold dear, whilst highlighting the opportunity for firms to harness the skillset of a generation that thinks on a global, collaborative scale when it comes to the digital disruption faced by BigLaw…

As millennial lawyers, we are working in a profession that is steeped in tradition. It’s also clear that our values and expectations when it comes to our professional lives sometimes differ to those who have come before us. And to add an exciting layer of complexity, as we are hitting the workforce, BigLaw is simultaneously looking digital disruption straight in the eye.

So how do we, with our unique skillsets and desires, thrive in BigLaw? Do we embrace tradition or assert our unique value proposition?

Well, we’re taking a leaf out of the Old El Paso girl’s book when we say, “Why don’t we have both?”

On the one hand, we want to soak up the expertise and practices of lawyers who have spent years working on some of the most significant litigation and transactions in the market. And on the other hand, as digital natives, we are wildly passionate about bringing legal services into the twenty-first century. It’s not just about technology… but also leveraging our curiosity and questioning those traditional ways of working and ways of learning for trainees.

Two years ago, we formed the Herbert Smith Freehills Design Thinking and Legal Technology team – a grassroots network of NextGen lawyers who are passionate about skilling up to ensure we remain at the forefront of change. The team, which collaborates across borders with the help of Yammer, includes 56 active members across Australia, London, Paris, Moscow, New York, Singapore and Tokyo. This network provides us with diversity of thought and insight into legal innovation on a global scale.

In our most recent collaboration, we listed the values that mean the most to us as millennial lawyers (in order of importance). We hope this will allow others to better understand us, and subsequently, better collaborate with us as we move into the future of law:

  1. We want bosses who are excellent managers and leaders (not just brilliant lawyers).
  2. Learning & Development. We want to enhance our skillsets.
  3. Purpose – we want to be passionate about our work #liveyourbestlife
  4. We want to be valued. A simple “thank you” beats a ping pong table.
  5. Technology is our friend and it will help us be better lawyers.
  6. We want to be supported. When we ask for help, give us the time of day.
  7. We want to truly collaborate.
  8. Flexibility. We don’t need to be in an office to do great work.
  9. Freedom to speak up. We want to be heard and shape the future.
  10. We see our careers as part of our whole lives, and have career conversations through that lens.

Can we have it all?  We think so!  But a lot rests on our number one ask, above.  Without encouragement from managers and leaders, like those who support us at Herbert Smith Freehills, this opportunity could easily be stifled – leading to a generation of lawyers either conforming or leaving the industry… What a wasted opportunity that would be!

A collaboratively drafted article by Herbert Smith Freehills’ NextGen Lawyers



Herbert Smith Freehills

Herbert Smith Freehills

Herbert Smith Freehills
Herbert Smith Freehills is one of the world’s leading professional services businesses, bringing together the best people across our 27 offices, to meet all your legal services needs globally. We can help you realise opportunities while managing risk.