There’s a conversation I’ve been having with heads of recruitment and PD and with law firm coaches. What they’ve been sharing with me is that many of the junior associates they hired during the pandemic are really struggling with being proactive, asking for work as well as feedback. Although these are issues that have come up before, those who have worked in law firms for many years say it’s more pronounced than ever.
Watching my own two kids be ejected from their college experience and come home to stare at a Zoom screen for over a year was painful to observe. Why? Because I could see that their growth was being limited due to the lack of in-person interaction. That’s why I wrote Your Fairy Job Mentor’s Secrets for Success, to decode what it takes to become a valued contributor in the workplace for young people who were missing out on this vital learning.
Unfortunately, I believe we will continue to see these young professionals struggle because they didn’t get to practice their communication skills or observe professional protocol with professors or at in-person internships. As a result, many have become more passive in their learning. We have seen this with our own interns who are much more reluctant to ask clarifying questions over Slack than in-person.
There are many things we gleaned early in our careers about becoming a professional, including how to ask for help or when to bring up sensitive issues, that we learned by watching others. Learning by observing others’ professional behavior is missing from those whose schooling was online for much of the pandemic.
Law firms need to be prepared to bridge this gap between what we expect from these summer associates and new law grads and what they are able to deliver because of their limited in-person professional development.
I welcome your insights on this topic and would be grateful if you shared these resources with your colleagues and firm.