Confronting Career Challenges: ABA YLD to Launch Career-Focused Projects

Vol. 39 No. 2


Andrew J. Hoag is an Assistant Editor of The Affiliate and an Associate in the Los Angeles office of Fisher & Phillips LLP.

“[I]t is becoming increasingly apparent that the market for legal services in the United States and throughout the world has changed in fundamental ways and that, even as we work our way out of the economic doldrums, the practice of law going forward is likely to be starkly different than in the pre-2008 period.”

Georgetown Law Center for the Study of the Legal Profession, 2013 Report on the State of the Legal Market 1 (2013), continuing-legal-education/ executive-education/ upload/2013-report.pdf.

The legal profession is changing. According to the National Association of Legal Placement, fewer than 60% of new law school graduates from the class of 2011 have found work as full-time lawyers. With the exponential rise in law school tuition, back-breaking student loan debt lingers over the heads of many, if not most, recent graduates. The bleak situation leaves many a young lawyer feeling like Sisyphus, the mythical king of Corinth condemned to continually roll a large boulder uphill only to watch it roll back down, eternally repeating the laborious action. The problem of unemployment and underemployment in the ranks of new lawyers only compounds the issues graduates face with debt.

Helping Young Lawyers Succeed

An integral part of the ABA, the American Bar Association Young Lawyers Division (ABA YLD) “takes pride in making positive contributions to communities in which we practice, shaping the legal profession, and helping young lawyers succeed.” To help achieve its goals, over the years the Division has implemented a number of annual and ongoing public service, member service, and diversity initiatives.

The Mentorship Project, which featured conversations and advice on mentoring, is an example of a past member service initiative, while the Career Development Initiative (CDI) is a member service project that began in 2011–2012 by then-ABA YLD Chair Michael Bergmann and continues today.

Confronting Career Challenges

To help confront the numerous career challenges facing young lawyers, the ABA YLD is launching several career-focused projects meant to benefit its members, as well as to continue the CDI. Initiated by ABA YLD Chair Mario Sullivan and the Member Service Project Team, these initiatives include the “Career Checkpoint Initiative,” “Starting Points,” and “Ask an Experienced Lawyer.”

“Starting Points” will serve as a how-to on topics such as opening your own firm, working as a military lawyer, and practicing in public interest, government, and other areas. “Ask an Experienced Lawyer” will allow members an opportunity to pose practice-related questions to experienced lawyers who are subject-matter experts. “Career Checkpoint” will help young lawyers navigate the transition from law school to life as practicing lawyers in an effort to combat the serious and growing challenges facing new lawyers.

Over the next few months, The Affiliate will feature each one of these programs, and showcase how you and your Affiliate members can benefit from these valuable programs.

Join Us in Chicago

“Career Checkpoint,” “Starting Points,” and “Ask an Experienced Lawyer” will be advertised through the ABA YLD website and social media platforms, and the projects will officially launch at the Midyear Meeting in Chicago, Illinois. If you have questions regarding these career focused projects, or other member service projects, contact Member Service Team Coordinator Michael DePetrillo at


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