The Affiliate: What are your goals for the ABA YLD in the 2014–2015 bar year?
Schpak: My primary goal for the upcoming year is to be able to say that at the end of the year that the ABA YLD made every active member a better lawyer, better leader, and better person. I also want to deliver value to all members so that they feel their membership dues are worth their hard-earned dollars. For those who are able to attend one of our national conferences, the goal is to put on unforgettable conferences that include quality CLE programming, leadership, speaking, and networking skills training, and health and wellness opportunities and information. For those who are not able to make it to a national conference, the goal is to deliver that content to them through our publications, website, teleconferences, webinars, and regional meetings. I also believe that we as a Division must focus and invest in our diversity initiatives in order to promote inclusion, facilitate participation, and improve the pipeline and retention of diverse young lawyers in our Division, Association, and profession.
The Affiliate: What are you most excited about in the upcoming bar year?
Schpak: I am probably most looking forward to holding the 2014 Fall Conference in Portland, Oregon. Although I grew up in Los Angeles, between college and post-law school, I have lived and practiced in Portland for a combined 14 years. I am excited to welcome young lawyers from around the world to the city that I live in and love. It also feels like I am coming full circle because I first got involved with the ABA back in 2005 when I was asked to be a member of the 2006 Spring Conference, which is the last ABA YLD conference to take place in Portland. I remember being blown away by the people I met during that conference, as well as by the quality of programming and social events. I’ve been a fan of the ABA YLD ever since.
The Affiliate: What initiatives are planned for the 2014–2015 bar year?
Schpak: Our Public Service Project for the 2014–2015 bar year will be Project Street Youth: Young Lawyers Advocating for Homeless Youth (“Project Street Youth”), which is designed to help the over 1.7 million homeless youth in this country, of whom almost 40% are under the age of 18. We will partner with existing community organizations that provide services to the homeless population and that are willing to provide space for the clinics and help us advertise and promote the clinics to the target population. We will make a toolkit available to volunteer attorneys and will include free (CLE-approved) training webinars. Among other resources, Project Street Youth will also include a manual containing in-depth information about what participants can expect at the clinic, answers to common legal questions participants are likely to ask, and contact information for local and state organizations that volunteers can provide to clients if a referral is appropriate. We have the opportunity to make a difference on this critical and concerning issue, and I am encouraged by the enthusiasm and momentum this project is gaining.
I am also excited to put a renewed emphasis on networking skills including public speaking, networking, building and maintaining client contacts, and “making the ask” for business. Relationships are critical to our profession, our association, and our continued success as young lawyers.
I am also looking forward to our health and wellness programming. We are going to include healthy snacks and opportunities for group exercise at our national conferences as well as programming on topics ranging from meditation and exercise at your desk, eating healthy while eating out, and finding work-life balance. We have to take care of ourselves in order to best take care of our clients.
The Affiliate: A number of great cities (e.g., Houston, Tampa Bay, and Chicago) will host Division conferences. What city are you most excited to visit?
Schpak: Well, as I mentioned before, I am excited to host everyone in Portland. But I am also really looking forward to our 2015 Spring Conference in Tampa Bay. We’re going to hear from top notch speakers, stay at a beautiful hotel along the water, and host social events at some of the most amazing venues I have ever seen.
The Midyear Meeting will take place in the great state of Texas. In February, we will meet in Houston. We will have a joint program with the National Conference of Bar Presidents at which state and local young lawyer leaders can meet with “big bar” leaders to exchange ideas and plant the seeds for future collaboration. At the Midyear Meeting, the ABA YLD Assembly will convene to debate Division policy and we will also host our CLE, professional and leadership development, and health and wellness programming.
The Affiliate: Looking forward, what would need to happen to make 2014–2015 a successful year for the ABA YLD?
Schpak: The ABA YLD is only as strong as its members, volunteers, and staff. I look forward to us all working together to support and elevate each other, our Division, and the public.