The Career Development Initiative: 2011–2012 Member Service Project Off to a Great Start

Volume 37, Number 2


Kara J. Johnson is the Associate Editor of The Affiliate and an Associate with the Bismarck, North Dakota, firm of Zuger Kirmis & Smith.

What Is the Career Development Initiative?

The Career Development Initiative (CDI) is the ABA YLD’s member service project for the 2011–2012 bar year. The ABA YLD has joined forces with the ABA Career Center to co-sponsor and develop the CDI programming. According to ABA YLD Chair Michael Bergmann, the project is meant to be a “virtual library of career resources” for the members of the Division.

The CDI is a series of teleconferences, live seminars, and website postings focused on developing different aspects of a young lawyer’s career, whether the young lawyer is just starting out or looking to transition into a new field of practice. The programs cover information on how to get started in a particular area of law, where to get useful information, and the monthly market conditions for the chosen career path.

According to Member Service Project Coordinator Chris Fortier, who was tasked with the development of the CDI, this initiative was “something we need in our economy.” He stated that we “need more dedication from the bar to meet lawyers’ needs. This project is a step in that direction.”


Okay, So How Does It Work?

Each month the topics will include career paths such as becoming a judge, a professor, a solo practitioner, a partner, or an international practitioner. A new career option will be presented each month.

The monthly programs will be presented in a few different formats. Some programs will consist of teleconferences that are nationwide listening parties for members interested in participating, while others will be presented as podcasts or live seminars. The presenters will provide a starting guide to get interested members headed in the right direction to develop or follow a certain career option. The information presented within these programs will be added to the ABA YLD website so that members can listen to programs and get the materials for different paths at their convenience.

The CDI also seeks to include live programming at the five meetings and conferences put on by the ABA YLD for the 2011–2012 bar year. The live programming component will feature one seminar at each of the following conferences: Fall Conference, Midyear Meeting, New Partner and In-House Counsel Conference, Spring Conference, and Annual Meeting. The CDI seeks to serve the needs of all ABA YLD members from those who are able to participate at live meetings, to the mailbox members who find value in the ABA YLD’s electronic resources, to affiliate members who can access the benefits of ABA YLD membership by participating in listening parties and podcasts.

In addition to these teleconferences, podcasts, and live seminars, hands-on career development resources are available on the ABA YLD website. The website is similar to a Career Services Office at a law school but uses a more practical and informative approach. The resources available on the website include articles from The Young Lawyer, The Affiliate, 101 and 201 series practice articles, and materials from past conferences. The ABA YLD is also working with other sections of the larger ABA to co-sponsor topics to expand the resources available to ABA YLD members. The ABA YLD is also attempting to get reduced prices for its members on materials from the larger ABA sections.

According to Christina Vassiliou Harvey, Member Service Project Vice-Coordinator, “The Career Development Initiative will help our members by compiling useful resources across ABA entities and placing them in one easy-to-find location on the ABA YLD’s homepage. The program serves our members’ needs as they enter, build, and transition their legal careers.”

What’s Been Going on So Far?

The CDI series kicked-off in September with “Incorporating Pro Bono Work into Your Career.” The presenters included Joanna Plitcha Boisen, Pro Bono Counsel at Foster Pepper, PLLC; Kimberly Todaro, Managing Attorney at Family Law Mentor Program of the King County Bar Association; and Matt Potempa, Law Office of Matt Potempa, PLLC. The presenters covered topics such as integrating pro bono into your practice, how to use pro bono work to get work experience, and how to use pro bono to develop new areas of practice.

The October presentation was held on October 15, 2011, during the Fall Conference in Seattle, and was entitled the “The Path to the Judiciary.” The event was co-sponsored by the Lawyers Conference of the ABA Judicial Division. It was well attended and was a very successful program. In addition to the live presentation, taped interviews with judges from around the country at various levels of the judicial system are posted to the ABA YLD website.

The November program will get the committees of the ABA YLD involved. Each area of law committee will produce a program on its area of law. A series of informational interview questions will be asked, and the interviews will be recorded and posted on the ABA YLD website. The committees also will provide information on how to get involved in the committee’s activities and about other programs and materials the committee will present during the course of the bar year.

What’s Coming Up?

The following programs are scheduled for the CDI for the remainder of the bar year:

Expanding Your Practice Area and Transitioning Between Practice Areas.

Academia: Becoming a Professor—co-sponsored by the Law Practice Management Section.

JAG/Military Lawyers—co-sponsored by the Standing Committee on Armed Forces Law and the General Practice, Solo and Small Firm Division.

Going Solo—co-sponsored by the General Practice, Solo and Small Firm Division.

Making Partner and Going In-House—co-sponsored by the Law Practice Management Section.

Joining the Government Sector—co-sponsored by the Government and Public Lawyers Division.

Building International Relationships and Business.

Alternative Career Paths—co-sponsored by the Law Practice Management Section.

ADR Careers.

Law Student to Lawyer—co-sponsored by the Law Practice Management Section.

For Upcoming Programming

Look for information on upcoming programs in the e-Bulletin, on the Affiliate Facebook page, and in emails from the ABA YLD. Postings from past CDI programming are available on the ABA YLD website at For more information on the Career Development Initiative, contact Chris Fortier, the Member Service Team Coordinator, at; or Christina Vassiliou Harvey, the Member Service Project Vice-Coordinator, at



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