Short Take: Have We Lost The Lawyers?

In the beginning, it’s all fun. After all, they call it social media for a reason, right? It’s supposed to be social, and social means you’re supposed to engage, interact, discuss and, on occasion, argue. There’s nothing wrong with arguing, except maybe to lawyers if we’re not being paid to do so.

And in the beginning it is. And was. But it’s not so much over time. The same arguments repeat themselves all the time, as each new person arrives on the internet and assumes that nobody, but nobody, ever thought of something before. This is bad enough, but it gets worse.

Then there is the Dunning-Kruger brigade, which can be as loud and persistent as it is ignorant, if not totally batshit crazy. And now, there is the added #metoo-ers, for whom every word is a matter of navigating a minefield of hurtz, lest one use banal language or express a basic thought that makes them explode in outrage.

Who needs this crap?

But one of the most peculiarly disheartening things for lawyers is to learn that the slackoisie are back. Not from places where they hid in the darkness and pretended they weren’t pathetic, like the Puddle, but from the ABA Journal.

Lauren Stiller Rikleen heard plenty of millennial bashing during her years as a partner at a Boston-area law firm—but she never bought it. “The stereotypes don’t match up with my experience as a lawyer and as a mother of two millennials,” she says. “I’ve never understood the constant negative refrain.”

Rikleen was so baffled by the disconnect, in fact, that she launched a second career geared toward helping different generations effectively work together.

She was “so baffled” that she left the law to figure out why her two millennial kids were part of a generation of lazy, entitled slackers? Sounds totally reasonable, and explains why, in their “work/life balance” section, they posted Millennial lawyers are forging their own paths—and it’s wrong to call them lazy. And what are the chances it would be presented using the insipid “myths” model?


The biggest myth, Rikleen says, is the idea that millennials feel entitled. “What we’re seeing is the manifestation of a generation that was raised with an enormous degree of self-confidence,” she says. “My parents did not have the resources that we did as parents of millennials. We were constantly told how important it was to raise emotionally secure, healthy children.” This child-centric upbringing combined with youthful enthusiasm results in a confident, achievement-oriented attitude common among new workers. The downside? Older people who were not raised in the same way can find that confidence jarring. “Millennials have a comfort with speaking up that other generations mislabel as entitlement,” Rikleen says. Rather than rolling their eyes at so-called entitled behavior, employers should welcome the self-esteem they see in their young employees. A willingness to speak up can yield wonderful results that would never come from quietly accepting the status quo.

If you need an explanation as to why this is nonsensical gibberish, then you’re a lost cause. Not only has it already been done, ad nauseum, but it ought to be obvious to anyone with the capacity to reason.  And that’s not why it’s quoted here.

We can’t, as a profession, continue to enable young lawyers to believe this crap. We can’t continue to empower them to substitute their self-serving feelings for the duty they’ve undertaken to represent the lives and fortunes of others. And we, by which I mean I, can’t continue to call bullshit every time a theoretically credible source rubs their tummies and tells them they’re not special, but rather “confident.”

It’s one thing for such gibberish to appear in a vacuous blog or twit by someone goofy and immature, but it’s entirely different when the kids get their tummy rubs from supposed grown-ups, from academics and, yes, from the ABA Journal. To argue again, and again, about the obligation that lawyers willingly assume to put their clients interests above their own wears thin.

The question now is whether we’ve lost the battle to save the profession. Have we?

26 thoughts on “Short Take: Have We Lost The Lawyers?

  1. Noxx

    Having the “confidence” to speak out when you don’t actually know anything, is known in many circles as “foolishness”.

    There are reasons for internships, clerkships, and apprenticeships alike, beyond “stratifying archaic power structures, man”. Old songs, new idiots.

  2. Scott Jacobs

    Stuff like this makes me think I’m going to fucking crush it in law school.

    I won’t get voted most popular, but since I gave up on “self-care” ages ago, I’ll be able to work these young punks into the ground.

    1. B. McLeod

      Busy. Taking care of clients still comes first.

      But sure, I would certainly be among those to say we can’t look to ABA Journal for any sense about anything.

  3. Nemo

    As tempting as it is to cite Eddie Murphy’s bit about Stevie Wonder and cars, I suspect that millennials would mistake their role in the skit. After all, they are likely highly woke, and all, and see things that mean-a$$ old lawyers cannot see.

    Of course, the Emperor’s courtiers likely convinced themselves they could see his stunning new outfit, but with confidence like that, it strikes me likely that they see themselves as the fashion model in this, and so become upset when no one can see their new pantsuit. Ir robes. Or something else, but if you don’t see what they do, it’s off to the Pit of Misery with you, dilly, dilly!

    And speaking of commercials populated with annoying people, it’s getting on time for some playoff football at another pit of misery, so I best be getting on with the all-important fan rituals. Those are at least as important as someone with near-zero life experience advising the experts on how things need to be done, with confidence.

    1. SHG Post author

      As long as mommies approve of their unwarranted self-esteem (and call it something cool like confidence instead of infantile arrogance), they’re going to go with what mommy says rather than some mean-ass hold curmudgeon. Not that it’s hard to figure out that even the most brilliant kid with 12 minutes experience might be slightly less knowledgeable than, say, the same brilliant kid with 20 years experience, but that would require thought and potentially hurt their unwarranted self-esteem.

      Why bother playing Mozart when they’re in the womb if you’re just gonna make them cry later?

      1. Fubar

        Why bother playing Mozart when they’re in the womb if you’re just gonna make them cry later?

        You could always make them cry in the womb by playing Mozart’s mean-ass old curmudgeon K. 522, Divertimento for two horns and string quartet.

        No youtube link here from me, because reasons. But the Cameristi della Scala performance does feature a mean-ass old curmudgeon conductor.

          1. Fubar

            Mostly because I can’t get the embed html exactly right off the top of my head.

            But here’s the link if you want it. The horns alone are enough to make anybody cry.

            The conducting itself is actually more or less in the manner of Mozart’s day. Now you know why those flimsy sticks modern conductors use are called batons.

  4. John Barleycorn

    What is this “reason of assumption” of yours that keeps you holding onto your guild as being separate from the reflection? You do know that this subject mater is within the top seven rides within your current theme park layout…

    You crack me up!

    Better get to work and take on a few worthy souls….

    Could be another decade before your children realize you weren’t bullshitting them about the struggle and euphoria of existence.

    P.S. I am still buying when you sell. Don’t worry part of the deal will be building your treehouse before the Greenfield Cross is published. I might even throw in a tractor…

  5. JimEd

    I am owed all these things from the olds
    Who should just step aside or be told
    Performance is just
    Temporaneous stuff
    What matters is assets one holds

    1. John Barleycorn

      whatever… just drop acid and go to the opera?


      Our esteemed one is skeptical on all fronts and Fubar is not from Egypt.

      What to do?

      Push for the opera to bless these back pages!

      and carry on.

  6. B. McLeod

    Bearing in mind that around 80% of the nation’s lawyers refuse to have anything to do with ABA, even if we “lost” ABA as a whole, it wouldn’t be “losing the lawyers.” Then, there is the Journal, with an editor and publisher who is not a lawyer, and a number of subordinate editors and staffers who are also not lawyers (although some are). It should be fairly obvious by this point that neither the ABA nor ABA Journal are in any manner representative of lawyers as a profession.

    1. SHG Post author

      Lawyers, or at least those of us who’ve been around a bit know it. But the kids? As far as the kids know, the ABA is real and giving them permission to be entitled narcissists. Just like mommy.

      1. B. McLeod

        Sure, there is always someone who doesn’t get the word. But eventually, it will get around to most.

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