U.S. Congressman Mike Quigley (D-Ill.), representing the 5th District of Illinois, spoke at the ABA YLD Opening Session/Plenary and Breakfast. Congressman Quigley recounted his diverse roles as a criminal defense attorney in the Chicago area, his experiences as an elected official before being elected to Congress, and his role as a U.S. Congressman, which includes past and present memberships on the House Committee on Appropriations, the House Committee on the Judiciary, and the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform. Congressman Quigley also fielded questions about his transition to Congress from working at the local level in the Chicago area and addressed questions relating to the political process on such hot button issues as immigration reform.
Development and implementation of the “Bullyproof” public service campaign, which debuted at the Fall Conference in Phoenix, continued at the Midyear Meeting through community outreach in the Chicago area. During the ABA YLD Assembly, ABA President-Elect William Hubbard and ABA Sections Officer Conference Chair Mike Burke, among others, praised the Division for its continued work to combat bullying through public service.
Programming highlights included topics of special relevance to young lawyers, including CLEs addressing ethical concerns involved in departing a law firm and considerations in starting a solo practice. Additional programming specific to young lawyers included discussions relating to job search, public interest jobs, practicing law with a nonprofit, and programming related to pursuing leadership opportunities in the ABA YLD and throughout the ABA.
ABA YLD programming was extended to lawyers outside the Division during the ABA YLD Diversity Dialogue Breakfast. This interactive session, entitled, “Sticky Floors and Glass Ceilings: Bridging the Gender Gap in the House of Law,” called on lawyers from diverse settings to discuss issues related to gender inequality in the legal profession today. Through a discussion, hosted by ABA YLD Scholars Collin Cooper and Aastha Madaan, as well as ABA YLD Diversity Director Kenya Jenkins-Wright, attorneys from within and outside the ABA YLD shared ideas regarding not only issues specifically related to gender-based inequality but also those related to sexual orientation, race, ethnicity, religion, disability, and other forms of diversity encountered within the legal profession. Attendees were able to draw on their diverse work settings to compare how their workplaces can contribute positively or negatively to a work environment that addresses the needs of diverse lawyers. Attendees included lawyers from private law firms of various sizes, corporations, nongovernmental organizations, state and local governments, and the federal government, including JAG attorneys from the U.S. Army. Although no consensus was reached regarding how workplace inequality can be eliminated, attendees left with concrete ideas about how they can help promote more inclusive workplaces.
Some ABA YLD members also took advantage of the “New Partner Conference” held simultaneously with the ABA YLD Midyear Meeting at the Swissôtel Chicago. Cat DiPaolo, Team Leader of the New Partner Team, noted that programming and events held in connection with the New Partner Conference were an additional resource for more senior members of the ABA YLD constituency. The New Partner Conference included learning and networking opportunities designed to help new partners understand expectations and anticipate needs, handle internal dynamics, ethical issues and risks, develop and manage successful relationships, build or expand referral networks, and engage with top national practitioners.
Generous support for ABA YLD programming at the Midyear Meeting was provided by Gold Sponsor, Walmart; Bronze Sponsors, the ABA Tort Trial Insurance Practice Section, Johnson & Sullivan, Ltd., and Veritext, and Supporters, the Chicago Bar Association–Young Lawyers Section, the Illinois State Bar Association, Niro, Haller & Niro, Ltd., Northern Illinois University, and Special Counsel. Visit the Division Facebook page for photos of ABA YLD activities during the Midyear Meeting in Chicago.