Gen Z often gets bad press in the workplace, especially in busy, professional fields like law. I have thought this is not reflective of General Counsel opinion but hyped up by the media as something to ‘complain about’.

I found a surprising reinforcement at Enterprise GC 2024: a panel discussion on the second day focussed on Gen Z’s ideal employer and what is important to them as a generation. Led by Natalie Hunt, AGC of Johnson Matthey, and Simon Edwards, Partner at Trowers & Hamlins, they engaged with three junior legal professionals, Lucy Gun at CCEP and Pheobe Clements and Jasmin Chui at McArthurGlen Group.

All three Gen Z professionals spoke passionately about the law and what they would expect from an employer. They were driven by employer behaviour around ESG, work-life balance, flexible arrangements and genuine corporate values. They cared a lot about the social and environmental impact of an organisation, while agreeing that in this career, you may have to sacrifice this to get a foot in the door.

The conversation between the different panel generations was positive and progressive, and it certainly felt as though Gen Z’s expectation of employers was a route to a better future, with fairer working conditions and happier employees.

However, the conversation dramatically changed when the panel turned to the audience for an anonymous online poll and Q&A.

The room was filled with senior legal professionals, mostly AGC or GC, who, I’m sure they won’t mind me saying, were not Gen Z. During the Q&A the questions were rarely phrased positively, and most carried judgement and insinuations of ‘slacking’ and being a less motivated generation.

Asking why they feel entitled to flexible working and about their lack of loyalty to organisations, it almost felt as though the room was taking personal offence and wanted to push back, having worked in the office every day and built relationships without ‘Teams chats’.

Following some well-answered questions from the panel, the room was offered a poll in which they voted on whether the cultural shift of Gen Z’s attitude to work would have a positive future outlook; the room voted for ‘It’s all gone woke’ to the absolute surprise of the panel.

I must commend Lucy, Pheobe and Jasmine, who were put through the wringer but presented fantastically throughout.

It may be worth noting that I’m not Gen Z (just!), and while I can see all sides of the argument, I was surprised at the perceived lack of motivation to ‘change’ the legal industry to become more flexible, more values-driven and less workaholic than it has always been.

It was a fantastic event, but this final panel impressed me; it was unpredictable and offered some genuine insight, even if it wasn’t what was expected.


Article contacts

Poppy Taylor


+44 7534 087 340