A Scholar's Experience in the ABA YLD

Volume 37, Number 2


Latasha McCrary is Vice Coordinator of the Public Service Team and a solo practitioner in Huntsville, Alabama.

Small opportunities are often the beginning of great enterprises.


In fall 2009, I attended my first American Bar Association Young Lawyers Division conference in Birmingham, Alabama. I went to the conference expecting to attend yet another boring function filled with lawyers. My sole purpose for registering was to acquire four hours of continuing legal education credit, which I knew I could not obtain for a price cheaper than my registration cost. Once I attended the conference, I was surprisingly amazed. I had discovered a network of lawyers that I was excited to encounter. While at the conference, I met lots of people. In particular, I encountered five or six attendees wearing a gold ribbon that read “Scholar.” Immediately, I wanted to know, “What is a 'Scholar'? And how can I be one?”


The ABA YLD Scholarship Program

The ABA YLD Scholarship Program is a scholarship designed to encourage the participation of minority, solo/small firm, government, private sector, and military service attorneys in the Division. By providing financial assistance, the Scholars Program offers a means of exposure for young lawyers who, absent a scholarship, may find it difficult to actively take part in the ABA.

The ABA YLD scholarship is awarded to recipients for one bar year, from September 1 to August 31. During that year, scholars attend the ABA YLD Fall and Spring Conferences, as well as the ABA Midyear Meeting. Scholars also receive mentoring, write articles and resolutions, and are appointed for one term to a Division board or team.

Scholars are appointed in three different categories: (1) general practice, solo and small firm practitioners; (2) government, public sector, and military lawyers; and (3) minorities in the profession. To be eligible for the scholarship, applicants must be licensed attorneys under the age of 36 or attorneys within their first five years of practice. Applicants also must be members of the ABA. To apply for a scholarship, young lawyers can fill out an online application, which includes submission of their resume, a biography, a letter explaining why they want to get involved with the ABA YLD, and between two and four letters of recommendation.

Applications are reviewed by a committee of ABA Young Lawyers Division judges. Scholarship recipients are selected based on their initiative, leadership potential, financial need, and desire to become involved in the Division. Potential scholars also are evaluated on their communication skills, as demonstrated through their letter of intent, and whether the applicant will attend the three ABA YLD conferences throughout the year.

Scholarship applications are generally due by April 15 each year and scholars are selected in August.

My Experience as a Scholar

After researching the ABA YLD scholar program, I decided that I would apply for a scholarship so I could become more involved. The following summer I was selected as a 2010–2011 Scholar. My experience as a Scholar was exceptional!

During my scholarship term, I was able to network with young lawyers throughout the nation. I attended three conferences in Santa Fe, New Mexico, Atlanta, Georgia, and Las Vegas, Nevada. Each conference was exciting, offering valuable continuing legal education programming and opportunities for service and leadership. The following is a list of great opportunities that I experienced as a Scholar:

1.    I published an article in the ABA’s 101 Practice Series entitled Conquering the Fear of Starting Your Own Practice as a “Newbie.”

2.    I served as moderator for the Diversity Roundtable Discussion at the ABA Midyear Meeting in Atlanta, Georgia.

3.    I was appointed to The Affiliate Newsletter Team and served as an Assistant Editor.

4.    I participated in a pipeline project at the Clark County Juvenile Detention Center (Nevada) to inspire juvenile delinquents to regain control of their lives by pursuing positive goals and careers in the legal field.

My experience as a Scholar provided me with wonderful opportunities and invaluable friendships. There is no doubt that I will continue to participate in the ABA YLD. In the 2011–2012 bar year, I will serve as the Vice Coordinator for the Public Service Team. I am excited about the opportunity to serve our veterans and give special thanks to the Division for my scholarship.

For more information on the scholar program, contact Renee Lugo at Renee.Lugo@americanbar.org or 312/988-5626 or ABA YLD Diversity Director Myra McKenzie Myra.Mckenzie@walmartlegal.com. Information on the program is also available online at www.americanbar.org/groups/young_lawyers/awards_scholarships/scholarship_program.html. ­­



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