The 2012 Midyear Meeting of the American Bar Association took place in New Orleans, Louisiana. During the meeting, the ABA Young Lawyers Division hosted its Committee Showcase and Reception. The event was well attended. It was a prime opportunity for ABA YLD members to learn about the committees within the Division and to increase members’ active participation in the ABA YLD.
What Is the Committee Showcase and Reception?
Not every ABA YLD member is active in a committee. Moreover, those who are active in one or two committees are not necessarily (and, in fact, are unlikely to be) active in others. Division members as a whole, therefore, would not know the benefits, aims, goals, and projects undertaken by the numerous groups within the ABA YLD. The purpose of the Committee Showcase is to serve as an informational session to allow the general ABA YLD population to learn about the positive work these committees had already done over the course of the year, as well as what activities and goals the committees have planned on the horizon for the remainder of the year. The overarching goal is to generate interest in ABA YLD committees, so as to procure new committee members, enhance committee activity, and increase leadership in the Division as a whole.
What Is the Structure and Format of the Committee Showcase?
The efforts set forth by ABA YLD leaders to present this information to its broad membership base culminated in the Committee Showcase, which took place over the course of one hour. A theme was given to the event, with this year’s being “Take Me Out to the Ball Game.” Each ABA YLD committee was assigned a different Major League Baseball team identity. For instance, the International Law Committee was associated with the Florida Marlins, the Family Law Committee was associated with the Toronto Blue Jays, the Government, Military, and Public Sector Lawyers Committee was associated with the Atlanta Braves, and so on. The committee’s table and its representatives were encouraged to use their assigned teams in creative ways (such as through decorations and costumes) to draw Showcase attendees to their respective tables. Committee representatives were further encouraged to have informational handouts available to attendees to take with them, illustrating the various benefits that their committees have to offer. Committee representatives were charged with greeting table visitors and explaining their committee’s activities, benefits, and opportunities for involvement.
Each ABA YLD committee was featured in the same room, at the same time. The benefits of this flow went to both attendees and the committees alike: such a format allows attendees to learn about multiple committees in a rather short period of time, while providing each committee with an opportunity to present itself to a large number of ABA YLD members who are not yet aware of all that the committees have to offer.
Each respective committee table was manned by two representatives active in its leadership (such as the chair or co-chairs, the vice-chair, or committee liaison), or by those of its members who were looking to gain more responsibility or visibility within it (whether they were subcommittee chairs or general members).
The Division supplied tables and chairs for each committee, table signs delineating each committee and the baseball team it was representing, refreshments, and—arguably most important—membership enrollment forms so that each committee could use to increase its membership base on the spot.
The Committee Showcase took place simultaneously with a reception in an adjoining room, featuring hors d’oeuvres and beverages.
Even Further Interaction Between Showcase Attendees and Committee Leaders
ABA YLD Showcase attendees were given voting cards to carry around with them as they circled the room and visited each committee table. At the conclusion of the event, these individuals used the cards to cast their votes for the committee tables that best represented a number of different categories, such as the committee that used the “Best Representation of a Theme” (e.g., the most creative committee table). Then, the committee that won the category was awarded a prize, such as a free ticket to the ABA YLD Dinner-Dance and Gala, which took place at the Spring Conference in Nashville, Tennessee.
What You Can We Do to Host a Committee Showcase of Your Own, and Why You Should
Take advantage of the ABA Young Lawyers Division’s model in formulating your own committee showcase. Broadly advertise the event to members of your section. Create an informative title. For instance, the Chicago Bar Association’s Young Lawyers Section hosts a “Meet the Committees Night and Social.” Promote the fact that committee membership and meetings are free of charge—that is, they are already included in section dues. Let members know that this is their chance to match their professional and personal goals to the right committee and network with other like-minded individuals. Be sure to have committee sign-up sheets on hand so members can join at the event.
Hosting a Committee Showcase and Reception provides a unique opportunity to bring more attention to and encourage involvement within your section, in addition to providing an open forum for networking for members at any stage.
For more information on the Committee Showcase and Reception, contact Anna Romanskya, the ABA YLD Public Service and Special Interest Entities Committee/Liaison Director at firstname.lastname@example.org, or David Scriven-Young, the ABA YLD Membership Entities Committee/Liaison Director, at email@example.com.