Becoming a scholar with the American Bar Association Young Lawyers Division (ABA YLD) has allowed me to explore opportunities, both professional and personal, that will have a tremendous effect on my legal career and perspective on life. As a scholar on the Minorities in the Profession Committee, I have the opportunity to attend three ABA YLD meetings throughout the year. Recently, I attended the ABA YLD Midyear Meeting in Boston, Massachusetts, February 12–14, 2009.
I was inspired by several elements of the meeting, including the focus on leadership, mentoring, and diversity. I attended the seminar “Climbing the Ladder: How to Obtain a Leadership Position in the ABA YLD and the ABA,” which was instrumental in explaining the benefits of becoming involved in the organization as well as the qualities needed to be an effective leader. I desire to become more active in the ABA YLD and the ABA to gain further knowledge of my craft as an attorney and to network and learn from others on how to be a better advocate and leader. This seminar gave me a better understanding of the structure of the ABA YLD and the ABA. It also allowed me to assess how my skills and talents will best serve the organization. The panel consisted of current and past council members and a representative from the ABA. Their commitment to the organization and the desire to serve the communities they represent were infectious. I left the seminar informed of the tasks and responsibilities needed from me for leadership positions as well as inspired to passionately serve my local community.
I also attended the “Speed Mentoring” seminar. This unique experience allowed law students, young lawyers, and seasoned attorneys to converse, mentor, and inspire each other within three minute intervals. Although I walked in believing I was the one to be mentored, I quickly learned at the first seating that I would be the mentor to a 2L law student. As a young lawyer I was empowered by this event. The art of maneuvering between inspiring someone only a few years behind you, to receiving pearls of wisdom and insight from those who are well rooted in their careers, was invaluable. Once you get going and provide your “elevator speech,” you realize that there is not much time to make a lasting impression. It was fun, informative, and an activity that I believe every young lawyer would benefit from.
My advice for preparing to attend an ABA YLD meeting is to be open-minded, professional, and personable. By attending a meeting at which you will meet lawyers from all over the country, in diverse practice areas and from diverse cultures, the best way to experience it is to be open to the possibilities. The ABA YLD created an organized environment in which I was informed of every event available to me. As a scholar you are warmly received by the organization and encouraged to become more active. As members of the bar, being professional is a characteristic practiced daily, but in a setting in which your reputation does not necessarily precede you, your actions and inactions are carefully observed. Lastly, personality is the core of your character. A friendly smile, greeting, and participation in various activities make a lasting impression. I am naturally an outgoing person who thrives on fellowship with people of diverse cultures. For those who are less likely to strike up a conversation, however, plenty of people in the ABA YLD will reach out to you first. Pretension and feigned personas are not welcome in this organization.
Since my tenure as a scholar began on August 1, 2008, I have attended two ABA YLD meetings. My first adventure was in San Diego, California, and the most recent was in Boston, Massachusetts. With anticipation and excitement I embarked on a journey seeking professional growth, leadership opportunities, and networking resources. I have gained far more than I expected. The resources I have gained will likely catapult my career to the next level. The interesting people I have met keep me encouraged as we build lasting friendships. The perks of attending an ABA YLD meeting include traveling to wonderful cities, lounging in superb accommodations, and delighting yourself in enjoyable social events. The benefits you will gain from these meetings, however, are the inspiration to be greater professionally and personally and the confidence that it can be achieved. I have a voice in this world and I deserve to be heard! With solid confidence, strength in character, and creativity, you will be heard in the ABA YLD!