Affiliate Spotlight: Maryland Bar Association YLS

Vol. 39 No. 5

By

Sahmra A. Stevenson-Smith is an Assistant Editor of The Affiliate and principal in the office of Stevenson & Associates, LLC in Baltimore, Maryland.

The Maryland State Bar Association’s Young Lawyers Section (MDSBA YLS) has played a stellar role within the bar this past year, demonstrating a commitment to offering its membership continued access to dynamic and innovative programming designed to enhance the young lawyer experience. With a specific focus on networking development and outreach for the 2013–2014 bar year, the Young Lawyers, led by current Chair Gregory K. Kirby, made the intentional decision to look outside of the Section’s “four walls” to accomplish their goals.

“In order to accomplish these goals, the Section developed among other things its ‘Four Corners Initiative,’” Mr. Kirby explained. “[We] offered several opportunities across the state for our members to meet and network with fellow members of the bar as well as members of the judiciary.”

Available networking opportunities took on many forms including educational programs like “MSBA 101” and “Cross Talk: Strategies in Arbitration & Mediation.” Section members were also challenged to speed networking sessions where young lawyer interactions were orchestrated with the intention of inspiring informative dialogue between young lawyers and more seasoned members of the bar.

Building Interactive Networks

One of the most popular initiatives launched by the Section this year debuted a line of programming borrowed from the Texas Young Lawyers Association. The Ten Minute Mentor, an online collection of video presentations, offers young lawyers the opportunity to tap the minds of young leading lawyers in their areas of expertise. New Ten Minute videos are published each month and are available to watch free of charge on the Section’s website at http://YLS.org.

This online mentoring effort was designed to provide opportunities for young lawyers to make valuable connections and engage in virtual mentoring relationships. With more and more lawyers entering the market each year, it has become increasingly difficult for some of our profession’s wisest leaders to mentor the next generation. These videos provide a space for that to happen.

Because of its popularity, the Section has decided to expand the Ten Minute Mentor project later this year. The new collection of videos is expected to be released this summer and will cover topics of interest to law school students interested in learning about the ins and outs of practicing law. The videos will be geared toward the busy law student, offering advice that is concise and practical. Providing the space for mentoring relationships, be they one-on-one or online, is a way to show that we as a section truly care about our membership and the growth of their careers. It is our distinct hope that it will instill in their hearts and minds the passion to serve as a mentor for someone else down the line.

Community Outreach Continued

Throughout the year, the MDSBA YLS continues its long-standing commitment to community service through programs like Wills for Heroes and The Storybook Project.

“Programs like Wills for Heroes enabled us to touch the lives of over 500 first responders in Maryland this year alone,” reported Section Chair Greg Kirby. As part of the Wills for Heroes initiative spearheaded by Sarah Cline, young lawyers are trained on how to draft simple wills, powers of attorney, and advanced health care directives for local police officers, firefighters, and other emergency response team members and their families. Ms. Cline organized and executed over 10 separate Wills for Heroes weekends during the 2013–2014 bar year alone.

Another long-standing Young Lawyers Section program, The Storybook Project, was birthed by 2009–2010 MSBA Leadership Academy Fellows. “The purpose was to foster literacy and familial relationships for children of incarcerated fathers and/or male role models,” past fellow and current YLS Section member Regine Francois explains. “Since its inception, the class along with several volunteers continue to visit JCI with our books and our recorders in hope of meeting that mission. It is our hope that we touch both the hearts of the children and their incarcerated parent/role model through our program,” Ms. Francois stated. More information about The Storybook Project, and its plans for future development, is available on the Section’s webpage at YLS.org.

Young lawyers made a concerted effort to expand their reach this year. “As a Section we took on a more assertive role this year by sponsoring and testifying at the 2014 legislative session on proposed cyberbullying legislation,” Mr. Kirby said. The Section also implemented the ABA-created Bullyproof program, aimed at educating students and school staff about the devastating consequences of bullying and how to prevent it, as well as offering resources to attorneys who represent parties in legal actions arising from bullying.

A Plan Moving Forward

To best prepare for the future, the Young Lawyers conducted a Section-wide survey of its 6,000+ membership and implemented a long-range strategic plan for the first time in a decade.

“We are all excited about the ways in which we continue to grow as a Section and as young lawyers,” Carl Isler, Chair-Elect of the Young Lawyers Section, said. “The themes we will direct our attention to next year are creating an involved and engaged membership and mentoring for mutual success,” he said.

The Young Lawyers Section anticipates many more successes in the future based on the hard work, dedication, and leadership of its Section Council and the loyalty and participation of its strong membership base in the many programs that the Section has to offer.

For more information about the Maryland State Bar Young Lawyers, you can contact YLS Section Chair Greg Kirby at mgkirby@pklaw.com or YLS Technology Chair Sahmra A. Stevenson at msstevenson@adesassoc.us.

For links to their programming pages and other social media, please visit the Young Lawyers website at http://YLS.org, like the Facebook page by searching MSBA Young Lawyers Section, or follow its Twitter feed @MarylandBarYLS.

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