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Workplace Perks That Lawyers Actually Want

What do you really want?

It's a question that sometimes comes up in the crisis stage of a relationship. One partner feels inadequate or frustrated, and the other is stifled about communicating his feelings.

Maybe I'm getting too personal here, but the point is that sometimes lawyers don't seem to know what they want professionally either. Because the attorney-employer relationship shouldn't be a guessing game, here are some perks attorneys actually want:

The Challenge of Lawyers Seeking Accommodations for Disabilities

Working from a wheelchair, trial lawyer Carol Steinberg strained to hear the judge as she met in a sidebar with opposing counsel. She could not see the judge because of the elevated bench, and instead sat face-to-face with a wooden panel.

"As I stared at that wood in front of me, with the angry voice of my opponent and the obliging voice of the young judge above, I had one recurring thought: Maybe it's time to do something else," she recalled. "I felt I had no business trying a case in a wheelchair."

Steingberg recently chronicled her challenges as a disabled lawyer in an opinion piece for the New York Times. She has tried 50 cases, despite the obstacles from multiple sclerosis over the past 12 years. Like many disabled attorneys, it has been a battle of accommodation if not discrimination.

Make Your Law Firm a Great Place to Work

If you can't wait to get to the office, you probably work at a great law firm.

If you feel like your co-workers are trusted friends, you probably work at a great law firm.

If you don't care about how much money you're making, you probably work at a great law firm.

Whether you are an employee or an employer, there are some sure signs that you work at a great law firm. Making the firm great depends more on the people than the practice area or any other common denominator in the workplace. It's not about firm development; it's about people development.

Here are some tips:

Whether you're a Boomer or a Gen Xer, a Millennial or a Korean War vet, if you're running a legal practice today, you're probably working with people from across three or four generations. That's because there are currently four distinct generations in the American workplace, with the youngest generation, Millennials born between the early 1980s and 2000s, now making up the largest chunk of the workforce.

Each generation brings with it unique characteristics and perspectives that can add value to your practice -- or catch you completely off guard. Thankfully, Sally Kane, an attorney and writer, recently surveyed how to manage, and hopefully to benefit from, these multigenerational differences in The Balance. Here's some of the best tips, broken down by generation.

The legal industry is one of the least racially diverse professions in America. And even though more women than ever are graduating from law schools, men still dominate the legal practice in terms of pay and partner positions. When it comes to the law, the good old boys' club remains strong.

This isn't news. The legal industry has long struggled to address the lack of diversity in its ranks, with mixed results. Here are some ways those efforts can be improved.

Lawyer's High Profile Gender Discrimination Lawsuit Settles

She said she was pregnant. Her boss responded:

"I guess these things happen. I suppose we have your honeymoon to blame for this?"

Between good friends it might have been uncomfortably funny, but between an associate attorney and her superior at a big law firm, not so much. It led to a gender bias lawsuit that has settled.

Mintz, Levin, Cohn, Ferris, Glovsky and Popeo, a Massachusetts firm with more than 300 lawyers, announced it settled the case. Kamee Verdrager, who formerly worked at the Boston-based firm, filed her discrimination complaint in 2007. The firm denied any wrongdoing, but settled after an adverse ruling by the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court in May that would have sent the case to trial.

Tips for Using a Third Party to Help With Your Job Search

If you're looking for an attorney job, maybe you should stay away from the headhunters because you'll need that head in the future. I speak from personal experience because my head was hunted once by a job recruiter and I barely got out alive.

To be serious, job recruiters surely provide a valuable service to law firms and companies looking for specific lawyers. That's why they get the big bucks, which headhunters apparently charge for finding those attorneys. It's typically a 30 percent contingency fee of the new hire's salary.

Carol Kanarek, a lawyer, psychotherapist, and author, explains that search firms are used only by those law firms and companies that are seeking lawyers with very specific expertise. "Consequently, if you are seeking a change in practice focus, or are looking for a non-legal job, a search firm won't be able to help you."

You have an opening at your firm. You've listed the position, received dozens of applications, and focused in on a few qualified candidates.

Now, should you track them down on social media?

The heads of the heads of America's law firms are getting grayer by the day, as more and more firm leadership hits retirement age (and beyond). Nearly half of the partners in Am Law 200 firms are members of the Baby Boomer generation or older, according to a report by the American Lawyer. Boomers, the 76 million adults born during the post-WWII boom, are now anywhere between 52 and 70 years old -- prime retirement age. Sixteen percent of those partners are expected to retire within the next five years, Major, Lindsey & Africa estimates, and 38 percent will be out within 10.

What does that mean for Boomers who plan on continuing on, or the Gen X and Millennial lawyers who will be left behind?

In the typical speed dating set up, a group of single people looking for love gather for a formalized meet and greet with potential partners. You may spend three minutes speaking to Sandy then, switch, three minutes with Cameron. The point isn’t having a deep experience, it’s developing an interest, seeing if there’s a spark, and then pursuing that further afterwards.

If it can work for love, can it work for work? At least one New York firm thinks so, having turned the traditional OCI set-up in to its own form of professional, non-romantic speed dating. Should you follow suit?