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Gen Z Lawyers: Cultural and generational shifts in legal education, work and professional identity?

Professor Tania Leiman, Dean of Law, Flinders University, Deborah Ankor, Jo Milne


Gen Z legal professionals, those born 1995-2009, are encountering a complex and rapidly changing world of work. Both personal and professional relationships and communications are increasingly digitally mediated. Online platforms shape knowledge construction and distribute the management of trust[1]. Technological tools are changing both what lawyers do and how they do it. The promise of automation comes with threats of job insecurity and challenges for skill development. Profound cultural shifts are underway.

In this context of rapid and constant change, highly developed ‘human-centred’ professional skills are more vital than ever. Coincidentally though, employers and educators anecdotally report increasing numbers of graduates and students who seem to lack confidence interacting with others in-person and apparently have greater difficulty than pre-pandemic cohorts in responding resiliently to feedback.

What does this mean for the formation of Gen Z’s professional identity, and how they develop and act on professional and ethical responsibilities? How does this impact their development of those vital interpersonal skills, both with their work colleagues, their opponents, and their clients?

What does this mean for those who work with and teach Gen Z emerging and future lawyers? What challenges need to be addressed in this ‘cross-cultural’ teaching and learning context? What new skills might educators and supervisors require to navigate this increasingly diverse landscape? What can the law and legal education learn from how other sectors and disciplines are responding?

Understanding this cultural/generational shift raises important and pressing questions for educators and employers as to the extent that Gen Z lawyers should be expected to assimilate (or not) into existing legal culture or whether they can (or should) be assisted to forge a new cultural and professional paradigm.


  1. Lambert Schuwirth and Ardi Findyartini, ‘Never waste a good crisis; Resilient health professions education’, (2021) 6(3) The Asia Pacific Scholar. Medical and Health Professions Education. 1-4, 1-2