The Strong Preference for Great Experience over High Pay

AuthorJohn P. Box Jr.
The Strong Preference
for Great Experience
over High Pay
In the Amazon Original television series Red Oaks,1 David Meyers is a
college student working summers as a tennis pro at a prestigious country
club in suburban New Jersey. One of his clients, Doug Getty, is the presi-
dent of the country club and a wealthy investment banker (who, as in any
good series, is under federal investigation for insider trading). Mr. Getty
begrudgingly takes a liking to David (I say begrudgingly because, as in
any good series, David is also dating Mr. Getty’s daughter). At the end
of summer, Mr. Getty offers David a well-paying job as a junior broker
at his investment firm. David, whose true passion is videography, spends
weeks agonizing over the job offer. Should he take the security, money,
and defined path of investment banking? Or, should he enroll in an arts
program focusing on videography without any promise of a big payday
or even a job? Mr. Getty eventually corners David at the country club to
see if he will take the job.
1. Red Oaks: The Verdict (Amazon Original Series broadcast, Nov. 11, 2016).
box50388_07_c07_093-110.indd 93 11/3/17 4:27 PM
The Millennial Lawyer
To Mr. Getty’s shocked indignation, David declines the offer. When
pressed for an explanation, David explains that he would not be “happy”
doing the work.2 Mr. Getty responds:
Happy? Ok, let me see if I can explain this to you. Happy is
how you feel when you go to your kid’s dance recital, when
you see McEnroe swearing at a line judge, that’s happy. It’s
not something you expect from your work. Why do you think
they call it work? They don’t call it chuckles. Because it doesn’t
make you happy. 3
Nonetheless, David remains steadfast in his decision to turn down the
lucrative offer, and Mr. Getty then walks away, incredulous at the oppor-
tunity young David just passed up.
However, David’s story is not unique. As in Red Oaks, many Mil-
lennials are searching for more than just a big payday and a well-defined
prestigious career path. They’re looking for happiness, fulfillment, and
meaning at work and, in doing so, are redefining what it means to be
a professional. Importantly, Millennials prefer great experiences over
Paying Your Associates More Money Ensures
Neither Happiness nor Commitment
In June 2016, the prestigious and storied law firm of Cravath, Swaine
& Moore LLP raised first-year associate salaries from $160,000 to
$180,000.4 Other big law firms quickly matched Cravath’s salary
increase.5 Considering that demand for law firm services increased by
2. Id.
3. Id.
4. Elizabeth Olson, With Competition Fierce, Even Elite Law Firms Resort to the Unusual, N.Y. T,
Jan. 9, 2017; Sara Randazzo, Law Firm Cravath Raising Starting Salaries to $180,000, W S. J., June 6,
5. Randazzo, supra note 4; Martha Neil, First-Year Associate Pay Will Be $180k at Multiple BigLaw Firms
Following Cravath’s Lead, ABA J., June 8, 2016.
box50388_07_c07_093-110.indd 94 11/3/17 4:27 PM

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