This year’s American Bar Association Young Lawyers Division Spring Conference was held from May 12 to 14 at Caesar’s Palace in Las Vegas. On May 14, the Affiliate Assistance Team hosted the “Affiliate Showcase.” The Showcase was an integral part of many conferences during the 1990s, and the concept was brought back successfully for last year’s Spring Conference in the Virgin Islands.
The Affiliate Showcase featured outstanding public service projects and member service initiatives from affiliated young lawyer organizations both in the United States and abroad. It was an informal event that lasted for two hours. The Showcase consisted of organizations setting up tables to present information about their projects to conference attendees. The presentations from Affiliates included flyers, poster-board presentations, videos, and discussions with members of the Affiliates. The information presented explained the projects and how they were implemented by the presenting Affiliate.
The Affiliate Showcase is a celebration of success, a presentation to inspire other young attorneys to take action in their organizations and communities, and a tool to equip young lawyers and their organizations to succeed in their own communities. The Affiliate Showcase was organized by the Affiliate Assistance Team. According to Jason Hirshon, AAT Vice Director, the point of the Showcase is to allow Spring Conference attendees to see successful affiliate projects and initiatives, collect information, speak with organization representatives, and bring ideas back to their organizations for creating new projects and initiatives or for improving their existing projects.
Last year, the Showcase had approximately a dozen entries, which included international projects. This year, 17 affiliates showcased their membership and community service programs. The presenting Affiliates included statewide and local affiliates. The Junior Lawyers Division of England also presented, making the Showcase an international event again for the second year in a row.
Projects on View
This year’s Showcase featured projects and initiatives that included entries that have received ABA YLD Awards of Achievement. As an example of a Showcase entry, the Oregon New Lawyers Division presented information about its successful membership initiative that helps unemployed attorneys find legal volunteer opportunities in their communities. Hirshon said the goal of the program is to help unemployed attorneys continue practicing law while gaining valuable experience that will help them both bolster their resumes and serve their communities.
A majority of the organizations focused on their community service projects. An example was presented by the Dallas Association of Young Lawyers, who partnered with the municipal courts and a soup kitchen to hold “Community Courts” for the homeless. The purpose of the Courts is to help homeless people that have received citations relating to their homelessness. Young lawyer volunteers represent them and work with the Courts to give them community service rather than a fine or jail time. The Courts are held in the morning and the community service projects are done in the afternoon. The project was awarded the Texas Young Lawyers Award for Service to the Public.
An example of a member service project was presented by the North Carolina Bar Association Young Lawyer’s Division. The Young Lawyer’s Division took on a legislative initiative. During North Carolina’s legislative session, the young lawyers reviewed 27 pieces of legislation and evaluated their effect on lawyers. One of the key pieces of legislation that was monitored was the bill that was introduced to allow 49% ownership of a lawyer professional corporation by nonlawyers. Through the efforts of the North Carolina Bar Association YLD, the legislation will likely fail in the North Carolina legislature.
Some combined efforts were also presented, like the Missouri Bar Young Lawyers Section’s domestic violence handbook. The organization recently updated the handbook, which has been in existence for approximately the last 10 years. The handbook advises people of their rights under the domestic violence laws. The Section publishes the handbook and provides copies to law firms for distribution. These handbooks serve as a valuable tool to the attorneys and help to ensure that affected individuals know their options under the law.
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The Affiliate Showcase was a successful event that was attended by a majority of conference attendees. Attendees were able to walk through the Showcase between conference CLEs and programming.
For more information on the Affiliate Showcase, contact Kimber Gallo, Affiliate Director, at firstname.lastname@example.org, or Jason Hirshon, Affiliate Assistance Team Vice-Director, at email@example.com.