I recently attended ABA’s Equal Justice Conference as a presenter for the Back to School: Tapping into Law, Graduate, and Professional School Programs workshop. During the conference I was able to attend many panels and workshops focusing on pro bono. While there were many intriguing conversations over the four days, one especially caught my attention with talk of “those Gen Ys.”
During the Q&A section of this workshop, an audience member asked, “but aren’t you talking about Gen Y?”Aren’t they selfish and entitled? How do they react to pro bono?”
The room was immediately buzzing. Hands flew up.
Pro Bono Coordinators from law schools across the country spoke about their first hand accounts with students. It turns out Gen Y is not only willing to do pro bono work, but they want to do pro bono work, and most importantly, they expect to do pro bono work.
Why? Gen Y has been raised volunteering.
At the very least they started volunteering in high school, and have continued service and community involvement throughout their college and now post-graduate careers. No one in the room could speak to any Gen Y students refusing to do pro bono work, or not enjoying it. In fact, this generation is so willing to get involved, the largest obstacle they face when creating pro bono programs is gaining the support of school administration to dedicate resources to these ventures.
If all of this is true, why does Gen Y have such a bad reputation? What can we do about it? If you’re interested in reading more about Generation Y’s desire to make a difference and how universities can best train these students, check out a recent blog post co-authored by Taproot President Aaron Hurst and City Light Capital Managing Partner Josh Cohen on the City Light Capital blog.
Jaime Hiraishi is a Recruitment Coordinator at the Taproot Foundation. She also leads the Taproot Foundation’s efforts to promote the pro bono ethic in professional schools.