This article is designed to provide you with two unique perspectives of young lawyers at the fall meeting. The first from a first-time attendee and a YLD Ambassador at the Fall Meeting. The second from a session coordinator (a.k.a “cat herder”) for a set of speakers at the Fall Meeting.
I. Aaron Klein: the YLD Ambassador
I first learned of the event during the Young Lawyers Division (YLD) monthly teleconferences. As a young lawyer building my construction practice, the YLD has been an invaluable source of connection and opportunity for me. Thanks to the support and encouragement provided by YLD President, Tamara Lindsey, I was given the opportunity to participate in the Fall Meeting as a YLD Ambassador.
The YLD Ambassador role was introduced at the Montreal Fall Meeting and provided a unique opportunity for myself and two other young lawyers, Kelly Bundy of Herschler Fleischer in Richmond, Virginia, and Kevin Garrison of Baker Donelson in Birmingham, Alabama, to meaningfully participate at the Fall Meeting. As Ambassadors, we were tasked with providing a friendly source of information for fellow young lawyers and first time attendees. You likely noticed us walking around with our flashing pens and goofy grins. Jokes aside, the Ambassador role provided easy incentive for me to interact with first time attendees and Forum veterans alike. Admittedly, we may have scared a few people off, but overall I felt that we successfully provided a safe landing place for young attorneys making their way through the Meeting. Kelly Bundy, who is also a Forum Diversity Fellow, said the following about her experience:
The ABA Construction Law Forum provides a unique opportunity to network with and learn from other, elite professionals across the country. The Forum’s Diversity Fellowship and YLD create clear pathways to writing, speaking networking and leadership opportunities. At this year’s Fall Meeting in Montreal, Canada, newly-appointed YLD “Ambassadors” provided a point of contact for new attendees, welcoming new, young lawyers to the Forum and sharing all of the benefits that the Forum has to offer.
Kelly’s comment is directly on point with the mission of the YLD and the mandate for the Ambassador program. I directly benefited in the Ambassador role, as it provided an easy way for me to connect with other young lawyers and senior Forum members.
Following, the Wednesday night welcome reception, the YLD and Division 13 hosted a dinner at Bier Markt. I know what many of you are thinking, “with a name like Bier Markt, how could those young lawyers not have fun.” It is true - the food and drink were delicious, and yes, they did have a poutine buffet. However, the event was much more than that. We filled the upstairs section of the restaurant with a lively group of attorneys and industry professionals. Great conversation occurred and new friendships were formed. After finishing my duties checking in participants, I was able to meet and engage in conversation with new faces representing a broad range of backgrounds. As a “newbie”, I was not expecting to meet many non-attorney construction professionals. To my surprise, I met dozens at the event and truly enjoyed the perspectives they shared. I also met a few of those notorious “construction lawyers”. In fact, I immediately hit it off with a fellow young lawyer, Matt Peng – despite him identifying as a Lakers fan. Matt is an associate with Gordon Reese in San Francisco, California. Matt was attending his second Forum Meeting and I asked him to describe his experience. Matt provided the following:
A wise man once told me: Great relationships are built one construction conference at a time. The Montreal conference was just that. I met many like-minded young lawyers that I hope to build lasting friendships with and I very much appreciate and value the candid discussions that I had with some of the best construction lawyers in the country.
Matt’s statement echoes a sentiment you will hear from most Forum members, the Forum is all about relationships. I have heard this from countless Forum members and, I’ll admit, I thought it sounded a little strange at first. However, during the Fall Meeting, this sentiment came into clear view.