Bridging the Generational Divide in Client Relations

Julia Hayhoe and Richard S. Cohen
June 2006

As the world changes, so do the ways in which successive generations work. Regional and world events, economic depressions or prosperity, the advent of pervasive technology and other factors have had a profound impact in shaping how each generation matures into adulthood. Combine this with differences between individual personalities and a source of unexpected conflict results between lawyer and client.

Conflict between generations has been a fact of life for thousands of years—at least since the 8th century BC, when the Greek poet Hesiod wrote: “I see no hope for the future of our people if they are dependent on the frivolous youth of today, for certainly all youth are reckless beyond words … and exceedingly impatient.” In Hesiod’s time, however, it was easier—there were only two generations to worry about.

Think Smarter. Lead Better.

  • America has believed that in differentiation, not in uniformity, lies the path of progress. It acted on this belief; it has advanced human happiness, and it has prospered.

    Louis D. Brandeis
  • Your assumptions are your windows on the world. Scrub them off every once in a while, or the light won't come in.

    Isaac Asimov
  • Honest difference of views and honest debate are not disunity. They are the vital process of policy among free men.

    Herbert Hoover
  • Strength lies in differences, not in similarities.

    Stephen R. Covey
  • Difference of opinion is helpful in religion.

    Thomas Jefferson
  • Diversity: the art of thinking independently together.

    Malcolm Forbes
  • Where all think alike, no one thinks very much.

    Walter Lippmann
  • Human salvation lies in the hands of the creatively maladjusted.

    Martin Luther King, Jr.
  • It is not that I'm so smart. But I stay with the questions much longer.

    Albert Einstein
  • There never were in the world two opinions alike, no more than two hairs or two grains; the most universal quality is diversity.

    Michel de Montaigne
  • The test of a first-rate intelligence is the ability to hold two opposed ideas in the mind at the same time, and still retain the ability to function.

    F. Scott Fitzgerald
  • One must even beware of too much certainty that the answer to life's problems can only be found in one way and that all must agree to search for light in the same way and cannot find it in any other way.

    Eleanor Roosevelt
  • The biggest mistake is believing there is one right way to listen, to talk, to have a conversation -- or a relationship.

    Deborah Tannen
  • Diversity creates dimension in the world.

    Elizabeth Ann Lawless
  • I not only use all the brains that I have, but all I can borrow.

    Woodrow Wilson
  • Strength lies in differences, not in similarities.

    Stephen R. Covey
  • The measure of intelligence is the ability to change.

    Albert Einstein
  • Peace is not unity in similarity but unity in diversity, in the comparison and conciliation of differences.

    Mikhail Gorbachev
  • Differences challenge assumptions.

    Anne Wilson Schaef
  • Controversial' as we all know, is often a euphemism for 'interesting and intelligent.

    Kevin Smith
  • To effectively communicate, we must realize that we are all different in the way we perceive the world and use this understanding as a guide to our communication with others.

    Tony Robbins
  • When we lose the right to be different, we lose the privilege to be free.

    Charles Evan Hughes
  • Diversity and independence are important because the best collective decisions are the product of disagreement and contest, not consensus or compromise.

    James Surowiecki
  • In our work and in our living, we must recognize that difference is a reason for celebration and growth, rather than a reason for destruction.

    Audre Lorde
  • Honest difference of views and honest debate are not disunity.They are the vital process of policy among free men.

    Herbert Hoover
  • Our ability to reach unity in diversity will be the beauty and the test of our civilisation.

    Mahatma Gandhi
  • Wit lies in recognizing the resemblance among things which differ and the difference between things which are alike.

    Madame De Stael
  • Freethinkers are those who are willing to use their minds without prejudice and without fearing to understand things that clash with their own customs, privileges, or beliefs.

    Leo Tolstoy
  • Wide differences of opinion in matters of religious, political, and social belief must exist if conscience and intellect alike are not to be stunted, if there is to be room for healthy growth.

    Theodore Roosevelt