The ABA YLD: A Voice and Home for 3Ls and Recent Bar Admittees

Vol. 39 No. 6


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

Lawyers and recent law school graduates join bar associations for a multitude of reasons: networking opportunities, continuing education, mentorship, and a number of other individualized reasons. In the midst and immediate aftermath of graduation, bar preparation, and commencing work as an attorney, many new professionals are rightly concerned with trying to keep their heads above the documents-to-review-from-massive-discovery-production reams stacked on their desks rather than networking, joining professional organizations and bar associations, and participating in other venues of personal and professional growth. But the law-school years and a lawyer’s early years of practice may be the most fruitful years to get involved—especially considering the planned programming of the ABA YLD.

Mario Sullivan, ABA YLD Chair, Mike DePetrillo, ABA YLD Member Service Project Team Coordinator, and Tommy Preston, ABA YLD Member Service Project Team Vice-Coordinator, all got their start in the ABA in the Law Student Division (which is approximately 40,000 strong and in continual existence since the 1970s). It is no surprise that these three leaders are working on new strategies for recent law school graduates as they prepare for the bar examination and enter the legal profession. Notes Preston: “The moment law students graduate, we want them to see the value of the ABA YLD. The new programming focuses on reaching out to individuals as they depart law school and join the ranks of the legal profession.”

Quicker Outreach Efforts

Traditionally, state bar associations send the ABA YLD the names of new bar admittees, which means the YLD receives them in the late fall and into January and February of the following year. The result is that it is months before the ABA YLD has an opportunity to contact law school graduates. Sullivan, DePetrillo, and Preston are seeking to change that delay. “We want a concerted effort to engage people earlier. As soon as law school students graduate, the ABA YLD is a resource for moving forward in the profession. We want the focus on engaging professionals early so that the value of the ABA YLD is recognized through the first couple years of practice, and beyond,” remarks Preston.

Bar Preparation Resources

One of the new ideas seems relatively simple but offers a lot to recent law school graduates: bar preparation resources. The ABA YLD is launching webinars and other social media components to connect recent graduates studying for bar examinations with resources during this important part of their careers and lives.

The focus areas aim to provide help to bar-exam takers irrespective of jurisdiction; the focus is on the process as opposed to the substantive law. Focus areas include how to create a study schedule, mind-set issues and ways to remain positive, strategies for the week before the examination, and tips for what to do on the days of the examination. The tips should prove useful—they derived from a survey of ABA YLD members who previously took bar examinations throughout the country. The surveys are structured in a way to solicit information about what successful bar examination takers did in preparing and taking examinations. A number of ABA YLD members provided input to assemble a comprehensive resource aimed at helping new bar examination takers succeed.

The ABA YLD has already launched its first successful bar-preparation resource. On Thursday, May 22, 2014, in partnership with the ABA Membership and Marketing Division, the Law Student Division, and BARBRI, the ABA YLD hosted a live webinar for all law school graduates around the country entitled “Bar Exam Prep: 30 Tips in 30 Minutes.” The webinar offered real-life pointers from young lawyers who successfully passed a bar examination within the previous three years. The event is just the beginning of the ABA YLD’s expansion into programming focusing on bar preparation resources.

Resources for Law Students

Other new programming is geared toward outreach to current law students. New programming at national conferences will be designed specifically for students who are gearing up for graduation (as well as recent graduates). Broad programming topics will include career and resume issues and ways to get a new career off on the right track. Upcoming national conferences also will provide mixers for law students and recent graduates to introduce them to young lawyers and networking opportunities.

Career Advice at the ABA Annual Meeting in Boston

The Member Services Team is working with the ABA Career Center to host a live program at the ABA Annual Meeting in Boston. To attract the maximum number of participants, the program may include a virtual component for those unable to attend the live meetings in Beantown. The event will offer young lawyers a chance to discuss practical tips on work-related topics and career strategies with top legal career consultants, in person, at no cost. Small group discussions and individual question-and-answer sessions will follow the large full-group session. Topics will include “Dealing with Dollars with Sense,” “Building a Book of Business,” “Crafting Plans to Chart Your Course,” “Particular Challenges in Legal Careers,” and “Showing and Showcasing Your Value at Work.” The event will take place on Friday, August 8, 2014, from 10:30–11:30 a.m. EST, at the Sheraton in Boston.

Through new and updated programming, the ABA YLD is looking to help law students transition seamlessly into the bar examination preparation phase of their careers and into the practice of law with less stress than they might have otherwise without access to such resources. Notes Preston: “We want to make sure that students and recent graduates see the value of the ABA from the day of graduation, and we are constantly looking for new ways to help bridge the gap between law school, the bar examination, and entrance into the profession.”


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