The Affiliate Assistance Team (AAT) completed another successful year of programming and events. The AAT kicked off the year with an Affiliate Showcase at the ABA YLD Fall Conference in Seattle, Washington. Affiliates from around the country set up displays and posters highlighting their programs and resources. A second showcase was held at the ABA YLD Spring Conference in Nashville, Tennessee, in May.
One of this year’s highlights has been long-distance programming, also known as “listening parties.” The long distance programming idea was developed two years ago with the recognition that with hectic schedules and a tough economy, young lawyer leaders are not always able to travel to the multiple conferences hosted by the ABA YLD each year. The listening parties provide a telephonic forum through which affiliate leaders can meet to learn from speakers and share ideas and resources. Affiliates Director Sarah Sharp Theophilus notes that the response from call participants has been phenomenal with great interaction during the conference calls and interest in future programming.
The program is coordinated by the Long Distance Affiliate Programming Committee, which is responsible for selecting the topics and speakers and coordinating each of the events. The first teleconference was held on September 21, 2011. During that call, three affiliate leaders discussed how they planned their leadership year and how to keep members active throughout the year. The second call, which took place on January 11, 2012, was about planning and implementing Law Day activities. The group discussed the Law Day video contest as well as other Law Day activities that affiliates have put together in the past. The third call was on April 4, 2012. It focused on the trending issue of running a successful mentoring program. Participants discussed tips and tricks on how to promote and implement these programs. The committee’s fourth call was held in late June.
The Long Distance Programming effort had been quite successful and there are plans to perhaps expand to a web-based format in the future. Ms. Theophilus notes that ABA YLD members can help “by spreading the word about long-distance programming, by recommending topics that would be of interest to our affiliates, or by agreeing to be speakers for calls.”
Next Steps Challenge
Another highlight from this year’s programming involved the Affiliate Assistance Team joining with the Diversity Team for a joint effort to coordinate the “Next Steps Challenge” competition. Through the “Next Steps Challenge,” young lawyer organizations are encouraged to share information about existing projects and to develop new programs for increasing diversity in the pipeline to the legal profession. The top programs were selected in mid-April and showcased on May 5 at the 2012 Spring Conference in Nashville, Tennessee. During the Affiliate Showcase, two subgrants were awarded to the nation’s top two programs or projects. One subgrant for $1,000 was given to the second place winner, the Arkansas Bar Association Young Lawyers Section. The top award, a $2,000 subgrant, went to the North Carolina Bar Association Young Lawyers Section.
Finally, in keeping with the theme of increasing diversity, the Affiliate Assistance Team facilitated a roundtable discussion between affiliate leaders and the National Conference of Bar Presidents at the Midyear Meeting in New Orleans. The leadership discussed several topics, including dealing with issues of diversity as well as how to incorporate diversity into programming. Overall, it was another busy and productive year for the Affiliate Assistance Team.
For more information on the activities of the Affiliate Assistance Team during the 2011−2012 bar year, contact Sarah Sharp Theophilus at Sarah.Theophilus@va.gov.