The ABA YLD “Fellows” are the alumni of the ABA YLD. This article highlights three former Division Chairs—who they are, what they did during their time in the ABA YLD, and what they are doing now.
Christina Plum, 2005–2006 Chair
Plum, who graduated from law school in 1995 and currently works as a staff attorney for the Wisconsin Court of Appeals, began working with her state bar association while she was still in law school. She became involved in the ABA YLD as an affiliate representative from Wisconsin and later transitioned from state bar activities to increased involvement in the ABA YLD. Among other roles, Plum worked on a Member Service Project that aimed to help lawyers balance their personal and professional lives and served as a leader and mentor to new Division members in her capacity as an officer. She decided to run for Chair because over the years, she had “fallen in love with the ABA” and its “amazing opportunities to do national scope work.”
While Chair of the ABA YLD, Plum implemented “Answering the Call,” an education and outreach project designed to educate young lawyers about HIV/AIDS and encourage them to reach out to those affected. Plum refers to Hurricane Katrina as another “defining moment” of her time as Chair, and she said she is proud of the role that the ABA YLD played in responding to the disaster and subsequently contributing to the work of the ABA Special Committee on Disaster Response and Preparedness that was created after Hurricane Katrina.
Today, Plum continues to work with young lawyers through the ABA and also teaches oral communication as an adjunct instructor at the University of Wisconsin Law School. “Helping young lawyers create successful and fulfilling professional lives is one of my passions,” Plum says. To that end, she encourages young lawyers to become active in the ABA YLD and notes that her involvement has enabled her not only to connect with a variety of lawyers all over the country but also to form lifelong friendships.
Lizz Acee, 2008–2009 Chair
Acee has been practicing law in Connecticut since 1999 and currently maintains an active business and employment litigation practice. She became involved in the ABA YLD after attending her first Spring Conference in Anchorage, Alaska. Acee “caught the bug” at the conference, and thereafter served in a number of positions until she became Secretary-Treasurer, Chair-Elect, and finally Chair. Much of Acee’s decision to run for Chair arose from her strong commitment to public service and the opportunity she would have to help others, both in the legal profession and in the community at large, in her capacity as leader of the ABA YLD, which acts as the public service arm of the ABA.
During her time as Chair, Acee created a public service project entitled “Voices Against Violence,” which sought to increase young lawyers’ awareness about domestic violence and provide them with opportunities to help combat the problem. The ABA YLD also celebrated its 75th anniversary that year—a milestone that was particularly significant to Acee because her father-in-law happens to be the oldest living ABA YLD Chair, as well as the only other Chair from Connecticut.
Acee has stayed active in the ABA since her year as Chair ended and has become especially involved in the Section of Litigation. “There is so much more to do in this profession than sit at your desk,” Acee says. She encourages young lawyers to get involved with bar associations in general because they create a “tremendous support network,” with the ABA in particular offering a unique national network of colleagues and friends. Overall, Acee describes ABA involvement as a “way to be involved with the best and the brightest in the profession, and to truly make a difference.”
Kelly-Ann Clarke, 2009–2010 Chair
Clarke, who practices commercial litigation in Galveston, Texas, graduated from law school in 2000. She first became involved with the ABA YLD in 2004 as a District Representative, serving on both the ABA YLD Council and the Texas Young Lawyers Association Board of Directors. Although Clarke served in a variety of positions before her election as Chair, she had the most fun serving as Administrative Director for two years. In that capacity, among other duties, Clarke was able to work closely with the Chair and “help him make some of his big decisions.”
Clarke’s path to the Chair position is somewhat unusual in that she did not plan to become Chair, nor did she spend a year running for the position. Instead, during Clarke’s second year as Administrative Director, she received a call asking if she would like to run, because the Secretary-Treasurer at the time (who would have gone on to serve as Chair) had unexpectedly resigned. Clarke says that being Chair “was the greatest honor and one of the most rewarding experiences of my life.” Her theme for the year was “Connect, Collaborate, and Learn,” and her major initiatives were networking and promoting a civil rights film, entitled “They Had a Dream Too: Young Leaders of the Civil Rights Movement.”
Clarke remains actively involved in the ABA, and her future goals within the organization include becoming more involved in a practice-specific group and working with the Center on Racial and Ethnic Diversity. Clarke encourages anyone interested to get involved with the ABA YLD, no matter their age or remaining years of young lawyer eligibility. There are “a million ways” to do so, she says, whether by writing, presenting, networking, or leading. “The people you meet at the ABA are the future leaders in the legal profession, and frankly the nation,” Clarke says. “You should meet them now.”
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Interested in Getting More Involved? Contact Sarah Sharp Theophilus, Affiliates Director, at Sarah.Theophilus@va.gov.