Millennials, Gen Y, 20-somethings, Generation Me – call them whatever name you like, because the nation’s 18- to late-20-year-olds are actually being called much worse. With many baby-boomer authors and bloggers asking “What’s wrong?” and “Why?” of Gen Y, numerous theories about “extended adolescence” and “emerging adulthood” have been given significant media exposure in an effort to better understand this, apparently, perplexing generation.
There are concerns about the under-30 crowd taking longer to reach a societal definition of “adulthood,” and it seems that anyone who has taught, mentored, hired or fired one of them has a concern to share. The legal industry is no exception. With many law professors and firm partners participating in discussions on how to teach and work with the nation’s next generation of lawyers, it raises the question:
How valid are their stereotypical criticisms of Gen Y against the University of St. Thomas School of Law class of 2013?
Taking too long to grow up. That certainly doesn’t sound like students whose résumés include being a marketing producer for a Fortune 500 company, communications director for a political campaign, project manager for asoftware corporation, producer for a TV station or the student who holds a patent and founded a medical device company.
High-maintenance and narcissistic. Not the School of Law 1Ls, who have led service missions to Mexico, Kentucky, Central America, Kenya and Vietnam; the student who taught English as a volunteer; the AmeriCorps volunteers; or the student who tutored orphans in Ecuador.
“Boomerang kids” destined to move back home. With more than 50 percent of the 1Ls coming to the school of law from states other than Minnesota, this class is comfortable with moving to the unfamiliar, taking risks andbeing independent.
Lacking in the skills older generations take for granted. A tough phrase to agree with when meeting students who already have earned advanced degrees in music, Catholic studies, biochemistry, gender and women’s studies, public administration, education, and human rights practices. Or speaking with those who are fluent in Spanish, German, Korean, French, Chinese, Polish, Latin, Japanese, Hmong or Portuguese.
Lazy slackers. Class of 2013 students who played collegiate sports, including soccer, basketball, rugby, cross country, ultimate Frisbee, curling, hockey, lacrosse and tennis wouldn’t call themselves slackers. Nor would the freelance mural artist, swing dancer, ballroom dancer, swimming instructor, marathon runner or the cyclist who has ridden across the states of North Carolina and Colorado.
Immature and unmotivated. With a median incoming GPA of 3.24, this motivated class is full of potential. Hand-picked from an applicant pool of 1,800-plus, the class of 2013 is a group of mature future lawyers.
Creative, professional, resourceful, energetic and collaborative. Yes, they are.
These future graduates of the University of St. Thomas School of Law will make 2013 an exciting year as they bring their unique talents to the nation’s legal industry. They will continue to defy the stereotypes and baffle the baby boomers as a continued contradiction to the question “What’s wrong with 20-somethings?”
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