Been There—Should Have Done That! ABA YLD Members Provide Advice to Law Students and Young Lawyers

Vol. 39 No. 4

By

Andrew J. VanSingel is the Editor of The Affiliate and an attorney with Prairie State Legal Services in Wheaton, Illinois.

As the first person in my family to attend law school, the journey from my first semester to my first legal job was a trying at times. Where should I look for an internship? Should I study abroad? How do I market myself? I had to stumble through these issues on my own, and although I knew what I had to do, I did not fully understand the best way to go about it.

With the help of the American Bar Association Young Lawyers Division (ABA YLD), law students and young lawyers do not have to go through the process alone, thanks to ABA CareerLine LIVE!, a live, multi-platform, career advice and resume feedback event that recently took place at the Midyear Meeting in Chicago.

ABA CareerLine LIVE! debuted in 2013 at the ABA Midyear Meeting in Dallas, and although sequels usually do not live up to their hype, the encore was a tremendous success. In the span of two hours, over 40 volunteers reached out to approximately 200 law students and young lawyers over the telephone, Facebook, and Twitter. Volunteers also reached out to approximately 100 newly licensed lawyers in Chicago and invited them to attend the ABA YLD “Welcome Reception” later that night.

ABA YLD Social Media Team member Heather Hale Riggs handled the social media interactions for CareerLine LIVE! “At Midyear, the ABA YLD was able to reach even more law students and new lawyers by leveraging our social media platforms. We successfully gave great tips in 140 characters or less and expanded the range of participants beyond those who could call in.”

  • On Twitter, @mmcarmon asked: “What is the one mistake you find that young lawyers make more than others?”
  • Hale Riggs (@meldyourmind) responded: “They’re not more confident! Young Lawyer ideas are valuable to employers and partners. You’re an asset!”
  • Alexa Chrisos (@lexie_data) tweeted: “One page [resumes] no matter what, or will people look at that second page?”
  • @ABAYLD responded: “Try your best to be concise. If you MUST use a second page, it’s filled with RELEVANT information.”

In addition to the conversations via the Twitter handle @ABAYLD and hashtag #ABACareerLine, participants also posted questions on the ABA YLD Facebook page (www.facebook.com/ABAYLD).

ABA YLD Diversity Team Vice-Director Shenique Moss participated in the first ABA CareerLine LIVE! event in Dallas last year and was excited to help provide advice to participants.

“The common theme of my advice was to find as many ways as possible to differentiate yourself from other candidates. In order to stand out, I encouraged writing articles for bar association publications on topics of interest, and taking advantage of opportunities to gain practical legal skills by seeking out various pro bono opportunities. I also encouraged them to get involved in different organizations to expand their network and further cultivate relationships with others in the legal community.”

Volunteers for the event were not confined to the makeshift call center at the Swissôtel either. Eighteenth District Representative (Ohio and West Virginia) Andrew Clark and Public Service Project Co-Coordinator Roula Allouch both participated remotely.

“My timeslot was at the end of the work day so I just stayed in my office an extra hour and made calls.” Allouch commented. “I ended up having a few of the individuals email me their resumes, so it helped to have direct access to my computer. I was impressed with the well thought-out questions of the participants and their appreciation to speak with someone with experience about these issues.”

The advice did not stop once the phone call ended, either. ABA YLD Membership Director Mark Nichols had a large part in organizing the event and encouraged volunteers to get contact information from the people they spoke with and to suggest a follow-up after the event.

“From our feedback from last year, that personal touch was deeply impactful on the participants,” said Nichols.

My own experience at ABA CareerLine LIVE! was very satisfying. I was able to speak with a handful of students, mostly 1Ls. My advice to them was simple: gain as much experience as you can, as soon as you can; know your limits and do not over commit—being exceptional at one thing is better than being mediocre at five things; and last, accept the fact that an internship may not directly lead to a job, but it might put in motion the chain of events that lead to your first job.

Indeed, the second installment of ABA CareerLine LIVE! in Chicago was a tremendous success thanks to all the ABA YLD volunteers and also to the ABA staff involved on the project, specifically ABA YLD’s Tracey Moore and Tracy Kaempf and the Center for Professional Development’s Jill Eckert McCall, whose behind the scenes work helped make the event the success that it was.

Given this success, it is likely that we will see ABA CareerLine LIVE! at next year’s Midyear Meeting in Houston.

If you missed out on ABA CareerLine LIVE!, be sure to check the ABA website for CareerAdvice LIVE!, a FREE monthly webinar series for ABA members that offers practical tips from career experts.

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