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It was a multi-dimensional experience – volunteers on the phone, in-person and online offering career advice to hundreds of inquiring law students and new lawyers. The American Bar Association’s Young Lawyers Division held its first CareerLine LIVE! event on Thursday at the ABA Midyear Meeting in Dallas, with more than 70 YLD volunteers offering one-on-one support and guidance.
“It was really nice talking to someone who I felt got me,” said Sylviane Kouemo, a second-year law student at the University of Maryland, who came to the event for direction on pursuing her dream of becoming an international business lawyer.
The event also featured an online component with volunteers tweeting vital job-seeking information through the hashtag #ABACareerLine.
“We really wanted to make this a next-generation telethon,” said Rachel Kopp, YLD membership director. “We wanted to make this visible to people who aren’t at the conference.”
The room in Dallas was filled with the sounds of laughter and upbeat voices as volunteers picked up the phones and called ABA members who had pre-registered. Approximately 200 people registered the first day the event was advertised, with another 200 to follow – the demand was so overwhelming that YLD is planning a follow-up webinar in March. Lexis Nexis is acting as a partner and sponsor.
“We recognized that there is definitely a need for this,” said Chris Rogers, chair of YLD. “People really need this advice.”
Kristi Rothell, an ABA YLD delegate from Florida who also acts as the YLD communications director, was on the phone with a young woman looking for networking advice.
“I know, it’s very difficult and time consuming,” Rothell counseled. “You should get involved with your alumni association at your law school, college or even your high school. You never know who might meet.”
In a similar vein, Jason Walters, an ABA YLD delegate from North Carolina, encouraged his advice seeker on the other end of the line to get out and hit the pavement.
“You can only do so much online,” he said. “You need to get out there and try to talk to as many people as you can, really getting into the legal community. That’s how I got my job, I went in for an informational interview and was referred to my firm.”
With some conversations stretching 20 to 40 minutes, volunteers really made the effort to offer one-on-one counsel while lending an ear to those who were struggling.
“You all are offering the kind of advice I wish I’d had at the beginning of my career,” ABA President-Elect Jim Silkenat told the assembled volunteers. “This is a great value that we can deliver to young lawyers.”
The ABA Young Lawyers Division is the largest young lawyer organization in the world with 130,000 members and 300 affiliated groups. Individual membership is open to ABA members under 36 years old or admitted to practice for five years or less.