This year the ABA YLD is increasing its focus on providing value to current ABA YLD members, helping ABA YLD members find their home in the larger ABA, and recruiting new members by letting them know what the ABA has to offer. Chris Rogers, the ABA YLD Chair, hopes to accomplish these goals through “Section Connect.”
Section Connect is an outreach initiative through which ABA YLD committee leaders and liaisons contact volunteer members and staff in other ABA entities and seek to compile information and materials from those ABA entities that can be shared with ABA YLD members. “We’ve found that ABA YLD members are much more willing to stay members of the ABA if they find value in a section or committee outside the ABA YLD,” says Dave Scriven-Young, who serves as ABA YLD Committee and Liaison Director for the Public and Special Interest Entities. “When these members ‘age out’ of the ABA YLD, they will be searching for a new home within the ABA, and potentially looking to see where else they can go. Section Connect is designed to inform these members about what resources and opportunities are available within the larger ABA’s sections and committees.” To that end, Scriven-Young says, the ABA YLD is “asking these sections and committees to provide actual content as well as to inform ABA YLD members generally of the resources that they can provide to young lawyers.”
Stefan Palys, who serves as the ABA YLD Committee and Liaison Director for the Membership Entities, states that the materials compiled from each section or committee could be anything from recorded CLEs to newsletters and articles. In this sense, Palys says, the materials are “just one more way for ABA YLD members to get the most out of their memberships.”
The compiled materials are sure to cover a wide variety of topics. ABA sections focus on substantive areas of the law, such as state and local government law, business law, and family law, and each section typically holds an annual conference. Each section also has many committees of its own (many of which overlap with committees in other sections). For example, within the Family Law Section, there are committees on adoption, child support, and domestic violence, among others. Committees offer an effective way to target section members’ specific needs and interests, and they engage in a variety of activities throughout the year, ranging from organizing programs during ABA meetings to providing teleconference CLEs.
Beyond these sections, the ABA has a series of “standing committees” that serve as a means to investigate and study continuing or recurring matters related to the ABA and focus on broader public policy topics such as governmental affairs or substance abuse. These committees also offer programming and written materials.
Once the materials are compiled, Palys states that the ABA YLD plans to compile the “Best of the ABA” and make those materials available to ABA YLD members. In the meantime, it’s up to the ABA YLD committee leaders and liaisons (who are appointed by the ABA YLD Chair) to make the initial contacts and begin gathering materials.
Section Connect also involves a networking component, through which ABA YLD members have the opportunity to meet with volunteer members and staff from other ABA entities and learn how to get more involved. In fact, Section Connect recently held its second networking event during the ABA Annual Meeting in Chicago. At the “Section Connect Fair,” representatives from various ABA entities welcomed young lawyers and provided guidance on how to get involved. Information booths were set up throughout a conference room, and the event included a happy hour conducive to informal networking. By all accounts, the event was a success, with Scriven-Young noting that “the room was packed” and Palys observing that there were “a lot of first-time attendees.”
Section Connect will also be used as a recruiting tool in conjunction with the “meet-and-greets” that have been hosted in the past for new bar admittees. In this capacity, the ABA YLD plans to distribute Section Connect information at future meet-and-greets aimed at informing graduating law students about the benefits of ABA membership (including a year of free membership).
“We’re excited to implement Section Connect throughout the coming year,” Palys says, “and hopeful that it will provide value to current ABA YLD members and help attract the next generation of young lawyers.”