Partnership – Y bother?

Hogan Lovells ‘under-45’ board policy may highlight generation gap in aspirations

Has the next generation of managing partners already lost interest in private practice? In a recent Eversheds survey of 1,800 lawyers aged between 23 and 40, 39 per cent say they feel the partnership model is out of date. In fact, the majority of the younger ones in the group – 65 per cent of those aged between 26 and 30 – do not aspire to become partners at all. 

Research by the iOpener Institute might explain why. This shows that the so-called ‘Generation Y’ demographic – those born after the early 1980s – have a very different attitude to work than the baby boom generation who make up the majority of senior management at present. 

Generation Y values job fulfilment over financial reward, claims the study, and they need to feel their work has a strong economic or social purpose.

This could be one reason the partnership model has dropped out of favour with the next generation, who are more likely to prioritise job fulfilment (more than a third of respondents in the Eversheds survey say flexible working is “crucial” to their future) than financial gain.

But while there is something to be said for keeping up with the youngsters, Hogan Lovells’ creation of an ‘under-45’ board policy might not be the answer. 

“There are plenty of managing partners who were promoted to the role in their 30s and 40s,” highlights one partner. “There’s no need for age quotas.” 

Still, the junior ones might ask, Y not?