I was delighted to attend the Claims and Litigation Management Alliance’s Annual Conference in beautiful San Francisco earlier this month. While I learned many lessons during my time at the CLM Annual Conference, one theme consistently emerged: What is going on with the younger generations? Whether it was a seminar, lunch session, or simply advice from seasoned professionals, it became apparent that age and experience play an essential role in the insurance industry.  

It is no surprise to anyone that Millennials and members of Gen Z tend to think differently than senior generations. Now that younger generations are entering adulthood and the workforce, it is pertinent that all industries keep up with the times.   

Millennials and Gen Z Are Hesitant to Join the Insurance Industry   

A 2024 study commissioned by CLM examined trends for insurance defense counsel. The study consisted of 375 attorneys, including associates, managing partners, and equity shareholders, and compared results from 2020 to 2024. One notable takeaway from the study is that “91 percent [of respondents] reported difficulty in attracting new attorney talent to their firms,” noting that 66 participants stated that it is “much, much more difficult.” Further, only 53 percent of those in the study would recommend insurance law to a new law school graduate.   

The study outlined possible reasons for this inability to recruit. Suggestions from non-associate attorneys included:  

  • Billing restrictions from carriers limit the work younger attorneys can do.  
  • Billable hour requirements place pressure on young attorneys.   
  • There is a lack of ambition and work ethic in the younger generations.   
  • An unwillingness exists to “meet the grind necessary to succeed at insurance defense work.”   

Among the most popular responses from associate attorneys:  

  • Job candidates seek flexible/remote work schedules that firms do not provide.   

The concerns of associates and non-associates clearly differ. Associates are likely members of younger generations, while the non-associates are experienced attorneys in the field. The senior attorneys’ comments reflect the common attitudes and practices in the field and a lack of belief in newer generations. In contrast, the associates’ comments idealize a healthy work-life balance. The gap is substantial. Can it be bridged?  

What Can Be Done?  

Change the Way You Market Insurance Law  

Insurance is more than just the co-pays and car accidents that most people are immediately familiar with. Insurance deals with a wide variety of areas, including wrongful death, products liability, motor vehicle accidents, natural disasters, employment, and essentially any other scenario in which a party can hold a policy. Not only is there an area of interest for everyone, but every day can look different in the field of insurance law.   

Understand the Value that Younger Perspectives Can Provide  

Gen Z is the most diverse generation of Americans. With diversity comes different backgrounds, understandings, opinions, and viewpoints. Problem-solving skills are critical to the practice of law. Employers and senior employees should be open-minded about approaching problems from different angles.

Value Work-Life Balance

While younger generations are more likely to focus on work-life balance and flexibility than generations before, this does not mean they lack passion for their work. Placing importance on the lives and livelihoods of employees leads to decreased turnover, increased morale, and a feeling of value that pays dividends in dedicated, quality results. As a member of Gen Z and defense counsel, it is worth sharing that I am lucky to have a job as a young professional where my employer treats me well, my work interests me, and I feel valued as a part of the team. 

Millennials and Gen Z in the Insurance World  

Employing defense counsel is one of many areas in which the younger generations will affect the industry. You will now find Gen Z and Millennials throughout every step of the claims process. Whether they encounter younger people as jurors, mediators, judges, claimants, or opposing counsel, defense counsel must be open-minded to different perspectives. 

Appealing to Millennial and Gen Z Perspectives 

From boycotts to marches to strikes, younger people are quick to use their voices to push for societal changes. The accompanying morals and attitudes include growing distrust of large corporations among Millennials and Gen Z. As defense counsel, it is crucial to demonstrate the facts of each case clearly and personalize your clients. 

Failure to do so will result in increased instances of outlandishly high damages—the infamous “Nuclear Verdicts.” These verdicts lead to increased costs for services and goods. The potential of verdicts resulting in big paydays prolongs the legal process, as plaintiffs will hold out if they believe they can obtain a larger settlement.  

Defense counsel must be aware of the views that younger generations have. Plaintiff’s counsel can successfully use “reptile strategy,” convincing those who determine the verdict to vote against corporate greed. Defense counsel must be able to allay these fears and ensure that the case is decided based on the facts. Younger generations are receptive to truth, honesty, and clarity. Experienced defense counsel should remember this as they adjust arguments and strategies to persuade younger juries and other parties involved in the claims process.  

The Experiences of a Gen Z Insurance Defense Attorney   

While it hasn’t yet been a year since I was sworn in at the Missouri Supreme Court, my rapid transition from law student to lawyer has taught me so much. Whether you are a young attorney looking for a path, an experienced attorney wondering how to attract the newer generations, or a professional in any field that deals with insurance (and that’s just about every field), here is why I chose this career path and why I am so happy I did: 

Developing Skills and Expanding Expertise 

There are myriad opportunities to explore and learn about the field. From products liability to personal injury, every case is different. My assignments range from in-depth research to attending court hearings, drafting court submissions, and everything in between. The case may revolve around science, business, or some niche subject you initially knew nothing about. Whatever it is, you gain expertise in something you never thought you would have. 

Understanding Nuance in Business and Insurance 

Like many of my Gen Z peers, I also felt that big businesses were often greedy and a threat to morality. Well, it’s more complicated than that. Accidents happen. Mistakes are made. And at the center of any business are humans. Civil litigation is necessary to ensure the fairest outcome for all parties.  

Working with Teams Across Industries 

Everyone is happy to help. With all the moving pieces in civil litigation, I constantly have questions. From coworkers, mentors, support staff, and co-defense counsel, none of them want to see you fail, and working as a team, regardless of generational differences, ensures the best outcomes for our clients.