A panel of young lawyers at the 2019 NABE Communications Section Workshop offered what may be sobering insights for those working to persuade this age group to join the bar.
Many young lawyers think “bars are stuffy, and we don’t want to spend time there,” according to Keith Dye, director of student services and career development at Case Western Reserve University School of Law.
Added Emily Kelchen, founder and CEO of Kelchen Consulting, “Everybody thinks it’s all old guys.”
What about networking as a key strength for bars, and a way to draw new lawyers in? Unless it has very specific and clearly stated goals, a networking event is often “a waste of time,” said Ruchi Asher, assistant U.S. attorney for the Northern District of Ohio.
Kelchen echoed Asher and recommended that bars scale back their focus on business development because “bars are bad at it.” And many young lawyers, like these three panelists, are not rainmakers at their firm or don’t work at a firm at all.
The good news? The panelists highlighted something that is a real strength for bars, and only a small step away from networking: connection, and meaningful engagement with peers (whether in terms of age or other commonalities).
“It’s about finding your people,” said Kelchen, who is a very involved member of both the State Bar of Wisconsin (which offers admission via diploma privilege) and the New Jersey State Bar Association, “not necessarily finding a new client.”