San Diego: Fall Conference Offers Networking, Socializing, and Giving Back to Community
By Francine Bailey
Francine Bailey is an assistant editor of The Affiliate and an associate in the Chicago, Illinois, Law Office of Bruno G. Para.
On October 2, 2008, the American Bar Association Young Lawyers Division (ABA YLD) began its Fall Conference in San Diego, California. Held at the Westin in the Gaslamp District, the conference offered networking, socializing, and giving back to the community.
The conference kicked off with a “Welcome Reception” on Thursday night at Visions Lounge. Young lawyers from every corner of the country came out to meet and greet before getting down to business. Old friends reconnected, and new friends were made.
The opening session began on Friday morning when Captain Jack Ensch, U.S. Navy Retired and current Director of Military Marketing with the San Diego Padres, gave a talk entitled “The Value of the Code of Conduct and Its Practical Applications.” Captain Jack was a prisoner of war during the Vietnam War and wove his story of capture and confinement within the outline of the military code of conduct. He spoke of how the code of conduct was able to sustain him and his fellow prisoners at a time when they were subjected to the whims of their captors. It was a moving, real life example of the importance of discipline and professionalism.
Following Captain Jack’s presentation, sessions were held on a variety of informative and timely topics, including “Building Your ‘Financial House’: Financial Planning for the Young Lawyer,” “Guantanamo Detainees and the Right to a Fair Trial,” “Same-Sex Marriage: California and Beyond,” “Campaigns and Compliance: The Basics of Election Law,” “The Basics of Business Entities,” and “Anatomy of an Appeal, Part I: Procedure.”

Young Lawyers Recognized During Fall Conference

During the ABA YLD 2008 Fall Conference in San Diego, California, Division Chair Lizz Acee recognized the hard work and dedication of the following outstanding young lawyers with “Stars of the Quarter”:
  • Alan Mathias, Birmingham, Alabama, YLD Litigation Committee Co-Chair—“Anatomy of an Appeal Pro-gram.”
  • Amy Drushal, Tampa, Florida, YLD Litigation Committee Co-Chair—“Anatomy of an Appeal Program.”
  • Genevieve Waller, Columbia, South Carolina, Public Service Project Team Member—Coordinated on-site public service project and produced domestic violence fact posters for the “Walk a Mile in her Shoes” event during the Fall Conference in San Diego.
  • Christina Vassiliou, Trenton, New Jersey, Mentorship Team Member—Coordinated StoryCorps® recording sessions during the 2008 Annual Meeting in New York.
  • Franchesca Hamilton-Acker, Lafayette, Louisiana—Coordinated Disaster Legal Services efforts for Hurri-canes Gustav and Ike.


A highlight of the weekend was the Friday evening social event held aboard the USS Midway, a retired Navy aircraft carrier and now a museum. The reception was held on deck, with the San Diego skyline at dusk as the backdrop on one side and San Diego Bay on the other. For many, this was their first time aboard an aircraft carrier. Many different types of airplanes were on display, and many were open so attendees could see into the cockpits. After the cocktail hour, the festivities moved below deck for dinner and dancing. A live band performed a variety of songs from Motown through today’s Top 40. Young lawyers also had the opportunity to give the flight simulator a try. After which, many felt overcome with a sudden desire to kiss the safety of the ground.
On Saturday, the ABA YLD launched its public service project and video, Voices Against Violence . This year’s public service project is a call to action for young lawyers around the country to end domestic violence. As part of the kickoff, Casey Gwinn, founder of the nationally acclaimed San Diego Family Justice Center, spoke and introduced Sarah Buel. By way of introduction, Gwinn told the story of a young woman whom he visits every day. This young woman was a victim of domestic violence and tried to escape. Unfortunately, her ex-husband tracked her down and shot her in the head. She is currently a patient at a local hospital, where she lies in a coma. Her story reinforced the importance of this year’s public service project.
After the introduction, Buel, a domestic violence survivor and nationally renowned domestic violence advocate and expert, took the podium. She told the story of how she and her children escaped her ex-husband. Buel not only survived but went on to become a prosecutor. Currently, she is a professor at the University of Texas School of Law . She gave the top ten reasons why this public service project is so important. Each was an important reminder of how domestic violence affects everyone.
Following Buel’s call to action, bar leaders were able to participate in two wonderful programs. The first, entitled “Hit the Ground Running: How to Start Your Bar Leadership Year Off Right,” provided practical advice on working with the senior bar, running an effective meeting, and implementing successful public service initiatives. The second, entitled “The Generation Gap—Does It Exist, and If So, How Does It Affect Your Bar Organizations,” allowed bar leaders to discuss the generation gap and the various ways they are dealing with their senior counterparts.

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