Employment & Labour

Gen Z lawyers' move toward face-to-face communication positive

By AdvocateDaily.com Staff

One recent study suggests that the next generation of lawyers will prefer communicating face-to-face with their work colleagues, as opposed to texting and e-mailing — a trend that Toronto employment lawyer Natalie MacDonald hopes actually materializes, she tells The Lawyer’s Daily.

As the article notes, staffing and recruitment firm Robert Half recently teamed up with non-profit firm Enactus to survey some 800 Canadian and U.S. post-secondary students in the 18- to 25-year-old age demographic, defined as ‘Generation Z.’

More than three-quarters of survey respondents believe they will need to work harder to have a satisfying and fulfilling professional life compared with previous generations. A balance between work and personal obligations was ranked higher than income generation and job stability in the list of workplace desires, says The Lawyer’s Daily.

Those surveyed also said they prefer having face-to-face interactions with workplace colleagues, as opposed to texting, e-mail and instant messaging, and working virtually came in as the least favoured option.

“I’m hoping this texting and e-mailing phase might be over because I think it’s actually created more problems than it’s worth,” says MacDonald, co-founder and co-managing partner of Rudner MacDonald LLP, and author of Extraordinary Damages in Canadian Employment Law.

“You can’t get the same tone in an e-mail that you get from a conversation, and texting is even worse because you’re more limited in the number of characters," she adds.

Nuances such as tone and facial expression are important in communication, as they help lawyers assess and better understand colleagues, potential witnesses or other parties, explains MacDonald.

“To be able to actually see if their brow wrinkles when they say something or they get a red flush in their cheeks — these are signs that can be prominent in a face-to-face meeting and impact on the assessment of the person’s credibility,” she says.

However, MacDonald tells The Lawyer’s Daily that she doesn’t see eye to eye with those who think they’re going to have to work harder than earlier generations.

“Previous generations might be offended by that,” she says.

“Every generation thinks they work harder than the last.”

MacDonald reminds those in Generation Z that, although society is constantly changing, the practice of law will retain high standards and expectations.

“You can’t come in thinking that you know it all. You have to earn your stripes. That’s part of the rite of passage to becoming a lawyer or any other successful professional. You’re going to have to put in blood, sweat and tears if you want to be excellent at what you do.”

At the same time, she says, law firms can attract the most qualified candidates in this generation by doing more than just paying lip service to issues such as work-life balance — which she says prior generations have also valued.

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