Past YLD Leaders--Where Are They Now?
Continued Commitment: An Interview with Laura Farber
Mercedes Pino is an associate editor of The Affiliate and the director of Career Services at the St. Thomas University School of Law in Miami Gardens, Florida.
Five years ago, Laura Farber, a hiring partner with Hahn & Hahn LLP, in Pasadena, California, completed her term as American Bar Association Young Lawyers Division (ABA YLD) Chair and moved on to serve as Division Delegate to the ABA House of Delegates for three years. Throughout her years of active involvement in the ABA YLD, Farber demonstrated her commitment to the profession by serving in a variety of positions. Her positions spanned several areas of the YLD, including serving as an Award of Achievement Newsletter Competition judge, a Public Service Subgrant judge, an assistant editor for The Affiliate, host committee chair for both a Midyear Meeting and a Spring Affiliate Outreach Project (AOP) conference, a liaison to the Commission on Women in the Profession, a district representative, and a Cabinet member.
Looking back on her involvement in the ABA YLD, Farber recalled how she first became involved, “I attended an AOP [Affiliate Outreach Project meeting] in Portland, Oregon, when I was vice-president of the Los Angeles County Bar Association Barristers because our project, ‘Increasing Diversity on the Bench,’ was selected for presentation. I was instantly hooked! I then received my first appointment as an editor for The Affiliate newsletter from incoming YLD Chair Rocky Rodriguez and the rest is history.”
Acknowledging that working with the ABA has helped her grow both professionally and personally, Farber continued, “Professionally, I learned to hone my organizational, public speaking, and advocacy skills. I learned to delegate, and I learned how to inspire others to do bar work. Personally, I learned about work/life and bar balance, and how to make the practice of law, and my life, more fulfilling.”
Reflecting specifically on her time as Chair of the YLD, Farber stated, “I enjoyed pursuing meaningful public service projects including the Tolerance Through Education project and giving back to the community, creating a diversity plan for involvement of young lawyers in the YLD, meeting young lawyers from diverse backgrounds all over the country and other countries, developing meaningful friendships, and providing members with resources and tools to help them become wonderful lawyers.”
Not one to remain idle, after nearly ten years of commitment to the YLD, Farber continues to be very involved with the ABA since her transition to the “big” bar. She is currently serving as director of the Administration Division for the General Practice Division, chair of the Operations and Policy Committee of the Section Officers Conference (SOC), chair of the SOC Long Range and Strategic Plan Committee, editor on the ABA Journal Board of Editors, vice-chair of the Select Committee of the House of Delegates, vice-chair of the Youth At Risk Commission, member of the Commission on Domestic Violence, and ending a term as a member of the ABA Nominating Committee. In addition, Farber will soon serve as chair for the Law in Public Service Committee of the Tort and Insurance Practice Section.
When asked what has been the best part of transitioning to the “big” bar, Farber responded, “The best part was being reunited with young lawyers who had aged out of the YLD, continuing to be involved in meaningful public service projects, learning from amazing leaders, and sharing the young lawyers’ perspective with ‘big’ bar members on various issues.”
Although Farber has made a very successful transition, she has not forgotten the important role that young lawyers play in the ABA. Still a champion of young lawyers, she admitted, “The biggest challenge was, on a few occasions, having to make the case for more involvement of young lawyers in big bar leadership positions, i.e., advocating to create more opportunities for involvement of young lawyers that do not require aging out as a prerequisite!”
Recognizing the importance of bar membership to young lawyers as a means of developing their legal skills and expanding their social and professional networks, Farber noted, “Becoming more involved creates meaning, wonderful friendships, opportunities for networking, honing skills, and otherwise learning from lawyers outside of your geographic area, practice area, etc. These opportunities also allow for a diverse group of peers and friends that contribute to making you a well-rounded, more successful and fulfilled lawyer.”
Understanding that there must be a balance between the social and the professional aspects of bar involvement, Farber offered some final words of wisdom for young lawyers, “If you do get involved, treat your bar work the same as the work you do for a paying client. You will develop a reputation as a reliable, thoughtful, responsible, and productive member of the profession. Next time that ABA friend needs a lawyer in your community, who do you think they will call?”