ABA YLD Assembly Leads the Way Toward Policy

Vol. 39 No. 4

By

Raul Chacon, Jr., is an Assistant Editor of The Affiliate , a 2013 ABA YLD Scholar, and an Associate with the Greenwood Village, Colorado, firm of Burns, Figa & Will, P.C.

Roars of laughter echoed in the conference space at the Swissôtel Chicago as the Assembly Roll Call progressed through presentation of the flags and songs associated with each state and bar present at the 2014 Midyear Meeting Young Lawyers Division (YLD) Assembly. Lynyrd Skynyrd’s “Sweet Home Alabama” filled the room as delegates from Alabama were presented. Not to be outdone, the delegates from Colorado were introduced by John Denver’s “Rocky Mountain High.” Notwithstanding the fact that John Denver was born in Roswell, New Mexico, Denver’s “Take Me Home, Country Roads” served as introduction to the delegates from West Virginia. After getting through the lighthearted Assembly Roll Call, the Assembly got down to serious business, passing three resolutions after debate, hearing a plethora of guest speakers, and considering reports by ABA YLD Chair Mario Sullivan and ABA YLD Chair-Elect Andrew Schpak.

As noted by ABA YLD Assembly Speaker Myra L. McKenzie-Harris, the Assembly is the principal policy making body of the ABA YLD and is the only forum where state, local, military, and specialty young lawyer groups from across the United States gather to debate important issues relevant to young lawyers and the profession as a whole. In addition, the ABA YLD Assembly provides a forum for ABA and YLD leadership to share their goals and plans for the current bar year and beyond. The Assembly is composed of voting members of the ABA YLD Council as well as Delegates selected by the Division’s Affiliates from across the country. ABA YLD Assembly Clerk David Scriven-Young reported that 232 delegates were present and certified.

Current ABA President James Silkenat, through his presentation at the Assembly, offered words of wisdom regarding how involvement in the ABA, particularly as a young lawyer, can lead to unimagined and unintentional opportunities. Mr. Silkenat discussed how the ABA afforded him opportunities to visit China in the 1970s during a crucial time in the country’s economic development and a pivotal time in East-West foreign relations. Through his experience, Mr. Silkenat subsequently found opportunities in areas involving foreign commerce that have had lasting impacts on his career.

ABA Section Officers Conference Chair Mike Burke and ABA-President-Elect and Past ABA YLD Chair William Hubbard each made presentations in which they praised the continuing efforts of the ABA YLD in its public service project, “Bullyproof.”

Several young lawyers were honored during the presentation of the National Outstanding Young Lawyer Award. Jason Sengheiser of St. Louis, Missouri, was honored as the winner of the award, and Brittany Byrd of Dallas, Texas, and Keya Koul of Albuquerque, New Mexico, were each honored as finalists. Click here for this issue’s feature article on Jason Sengheiser.

Four resolutions submitted by young lawyers were debated. The first resolution (1YL) urged the Standing Committee on Continuing Legal Education to amend the Model Rules for Continuing Legal Education to include requirements for new lawyer training that focus on practice skills, the business of law, career development, and health issues. After time for debate was exhausted, the resolution narrowly lost with 105 voting against and 93 in favor of the measure in a standing vote.

The second, third, and fourth resolutions each passed following an oral vote. The second resolution (2YL) encourages all state and territorial-barring jurisdictions to enact rules that would permit in-house attorneys to practice law in pro bono matters in the jurisdiction where they work without being licensed to practice law in that particular jurisdiction. The third resolution (3YL) asks Congress and the U.S. Department of Education to establish various benchmarks to (1) slow the increase in law school tuition; (2) limit the debt burden of law school graduates; (3) enhance access to the legal profession, particularly for minorities and traditionally disadvantaged groups; and (4) better equip lawyers to provide quality legal services to the public. Finally, the fourth resolution (4YL) encourages all American law schools to create veteran law institutes/clinics to assist veterans with their legal needs.

After consultation with the Assembly Speaker, the ABA YLD Chair, YLD Staff, and other relevant individuals, the ABA YLD Delegates to the ABA House of Delegates will consider presenting each resolution approved by the Assembly before the House on behalf of the ABA YLD at the ABA Annual Meeting in Boston in August 2014 or at a subsequent Annual or Midyear Meeting.

In addition, the sponsoring entities of four resolutions on the Consent Calendar for the Monday February 10, 2014, session of the ABA House of Delegates requested the ABA YLD’s support of their resolutions. The Assembly approved each of the resolutions and the Division became a supporter of each resolution on the Consent Calendar. The list of resolutions on the House of Delegates Consent Calendar, including 102B, 106, and 107, along with the ABA YLD resolutions, are available here.

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