18 ASIAN LEGAL BUSINESS – JULY 2023 WWW.LEGALBUSINESSONLINE.COM in many industries. This attitude can be harmful to younger professionals, as it can make them feel like they are not being heard or respected. It can also lead to a culture of exclusion, where younger professionals feel like they do not belong,” says Khanduja of Kincentric Malaysia. HDG labels the “during my time” mentality as “immature” and “bullying” in nature. “The negative impact of workplace bullying on an individual’s morale and overall performance is evident. When juniors are consistently assigned low-value tasks, subjected to excessive work hours, given complex cases or research assignments without proper guidance, or sidelined without justification, their motivation and engagement gradually diminish. This can lead to demotivation, disengagement, and a decline in performance, hindering the progress of promising junior lawyers,” it says. As a result, young lawyers are craving stronger than ever, a meaningful, conducive, and healthy relationship with a veteran lawyer who possesses a solid technical skillset, deep industry knowledge, and profound life wisdom they can call a mentor. “A lack of a supportive relationship with senior lawyers can make certain things harder to achieve,” says Kahandole of SAM. “Without a mentor, it can be challenging to gain insights into the unwritten rules and nuances of the legal profession. The absence of guidance from experienced lawyers may result in missed opportunities for professional development. “Moreover, without a mentor, building a strong network within the legal community can be more difficult, limiting opportunities for career advancement and professional connections,” he explains. Singh, Kahandole’s colleague at SAM, adds, “Mentors can help guide us through difficult decisions or unexpected situations. Generally, they offer advice on navigating tricky conversations with clients and superiors, provide their inputs on the complex transaction structure, and may even open doors for networking opportunities that would have been impossible without their expertise and connections.” Singh also emphasizes that mentorship does not have to look the same everywhere and that the mentoring relationship should be based on mutual comfort and compatibility. Abraham Astral Rantesalu, an associate at Indonesia’s Prisma & Co Law Firm, feels that sometimes the age gap between senior and junior lawyers could be too wide for close ties to be forged. Additionally, Rantesalu mentions that the attitude and behaviour of junior lawyers in making requests regarding mentoring to a senior lawyer, namely whether the request has been made politely and in a good and correct manner, also play a role. In addition to mentorship, Choo of Providence says the visibility of a career track and a sense of ownership are among the criteria that help him decide whether a firm is the right fit for him in the medium to long term. “These factors may not be present in law firms with a high turnover rate and where lawyers join to gain experience and a ‘badge of honour’ before they look to join a different firm. For such firms, they may need to consider the image they have in the industry and if this image and mode of practice are something that the management is comfortable living with,” says Choo. To tackle the crux of the issue, HDG points out that it’s essential to recognize that a good lawyer does not necessarily make a good leader or manager in a law firm. Therefore, “Investing in leadership development programs is crucial to shaping a company’s culture. These programs should focus on cultivating empathy, effective communication, and a supportive management style. By equipping leaders with coaching skills, they can effectively guide and nurture young talents along their career journey, fostering a positive and inclusive work environment,” suggest the consultants. HDG also suggests that law firm leaders or senior partners spearhead transparent communications and practice what they preach to demonstrate the values and behaviours they expect from more junior employees. Moreover, firms are advised to adopt proactive HR strategies that include implementing regular employee evaluations to provide feedback and identify areas for career growth. However, the effectiveness of proactive HR practices in place could also risk being undercut or neutralized by disengaged leaders, warns Kincentric Malaysia’s Khanduja. “Organizations should identify such leaders and act by providing them with intentional, concentrated, and impactful developmental experiences to build engagement-enhancing skills. Talent focus is equally important as employees want clarity on their progress and are looking for growth,” she adds. COMPETING WITH ROBOTS The rise of generative AI tools such as ChatGPT has presented quite a scare to junior attorneys, many of whom are grinding through the early stages of their careers by performing the type of grunt work that can now be finished in seconds. And with more and more law firms adopting these AI tools into their operational systems and legal work, the moment seems inevitable when managing partners couldn’t help but make the cost-benefit analysis of elementarylevel legal staff. Young lawyers, to say the least, are staring at a fundamental shift in their positioning and function in a firm. “The adoption of generative AI tools has had a significant impact on my work and has changed the prospects of my career development in several ways. These tools have improved efficiency and productivity by automating repetitive tasks, “A lack of a supportive relationship with senior lawyers can make certain things harder to achieve. Without a mentor, it can be challenging to gain insights into the unwritten rules and nuances of the legal profession.” — Yash Kahandole, Shardul Amarchand Mangaldas & Co COVER STORY