Generation Z Goes to Law School: Teaching and Reaching Law Students in the Post-Millennial Generation
94 Pages Posted: 13 Nov 2018 Last revised: 31 Jan 2019
Date Written: September 17, 2018
In 2017, law schools welcomed the first members of Generation Z to their halls. While Generation Z students (born between 1995 and 2010) share some commonalities with their predecessors, the Millennials, they have a distinct peer personality that has been shaped by the culture and events of their youth. This Article begins with the premise that legal educators would benefit from learning what makes Generation Z students “tick,” so that we can partner with them more effectively as they prepare to enter the legal profession.
This Article begins by reviewing the basic principles and inherent limitations of generational theory, as a backdrop against which to view Generation Z. The Article then summarizes what research has revealed thus far about Generation Z’s peer personality, focusing on four traits: they are diverse, financially conservative, insecure and anxious, and growing up more slowly than previous generations.
This Article then examines three learning characteristics of Generation Z students that have direct implications for legal educators: they are saturated with technology, they are weaker than their predecessor generations in critical reading, thinking, and writing, and they prefer to work alone rather than in collaborative settings.
Finally, this Article suggests concrete strategies for legal educators to address the challenges presented by Generation Z students, focusing on five areas: (1) more instruction in critical reading; (2) more writing opportunities across the law school curriculum; (3) more thoughtful (and perhaps more sparing) use of technology in the classroom; (4) more careful attention to how and when we use collaborative learning techniques; and (5) more emphasis on encouraging mindfulness and wellness in our students.
Keywords: Generation Z, Millennials, generational theory, mindfulness, law school learning, critical thinking
JEL Classification: K10
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation