If you clicked on this post, I already know a few things about you: (1) You’re a member of the ABA’s Section of Litigation; and (2) you’re either (i) a young lawyer wondering why you shouldn’t go the Section’s flagship annual conference, (ii) an “ABA-elder” who is absolutely infuriated by the title of this Practice Point; or (iii) someone who loves kittens. But my focus is on you—the young lawyer—and my goal is to tell you why you definitely shouldn’t go to the Section Annual Conference.
As a member of the Section, you likely know that the Section’s flagship conference is coming up this week (May 1-4 in New York City). You’ve probably received a ~few~ emails, postcards, and brochures “advertising” the conference. But don’t be fooled, fellow young attorney! I’m a young lawyer, too, and I first began attending the Section Annual Conference (SAC) during my first year as a lawyer. Since I’ve been to a couple of these, I’m obviously qualified to tell you why you shouldn’t attend:
- You don’t like making new, interesting friends and contacts who can refer you work. SAC is an annual multi-day event that draws the attendance of literally (and I do mean “literally,” not “figuratively”) thousands of lawyers. These folks come from all over the country—and sometimes even from other countries—and do all sorts of things. Some are judges, others are in-house lawyers, and many are practicing lawyers in varying sizes of law firms. There are plaintiff-side lawyers and defense-side lawyers. Some of them will practice the same kind of litigation you do, while others will litigate types of cases you didn’t even realize were their own specialties. And so many of them have been practicing for decades and are legends in the industry. It’s not like you want to meet these people at one of the 11 different networking events, and even become friends with some of them. Who wants to potentially develop a mentoring relationship with legal giants? Doesn’t that sound horrible? Okay—maybe that doesn’t sound terrible, but . . .
- You don’t like to easily fulfill those pesky licensing requirements, like CLE. You’ve probably seen a copy of the SAC program. If you haven’t, take a peek HERE. There are over 60 CLE programs. You don’t want to attend these numerous events, some of which are substantive CLE programs that might be about your practice area or about something you’re interested in learning about, or the ones that you can use to check off the ethics CLE requirements in your state. And you definitely don’t want to attend the CLE events on wellness, how to be a better networker, or how to manage a law office. Who cares that all of the programs are led by or feature some of the most renowned experts and practitioners in the field, right? And let’s say, just in case, that does “float your boat,” there are just way too many good programs to choose from! It’s just easier to not choose at all. You can probably cobble together just enough CLE credits elsewhere to squeak by.
- You don’t want to actually enhance your practice by being involved in the nation’s premier bar association. Let’s be honest. You’re great at what you do. And you’ll eventually become the best at what you do. Everyone will know who you are and will know that you are the best and will hire you or refer cases to you. You definitely don’t need to get your name out there. You don’t even want that kind of attention or notoriety. You don’t need it. So the fact that you can attend the Committee Expo on May 2, where all of the committees will have tables set up and will be eager to talk to you about how you can get involved, does not appeal to you at all. Because you don’t want to join one or more of the many committees within the Section (like, Consumer Litigation, Pretrial Advocacy, Class Actions, Young Lawyers, Minority Trial Lawyers, Securities Litigation, etc.). You don’t want to network with other lawyers who share your interests. You don’t want access to high-quality content that applies to you. And you definitely don’t want to be given opportunities to publish articles, Sound Advice podcasts, and other substantive content that is distributed to hundreds of thousands of ABA members worldwide. Oh and committee leadership? Forget about it! Why would you want the opportunity to brand yourself as a leader in the largest and most expansive bar association in North America (maybe even the world)?!
I think I’ve made it clear that you shouldn’t go to New York City for the Litigation SAC. That is, unless you actually want to meet incredible people, build your network, learn a lot, knock out those licensing requirements, get involved with other lawyers in your practice area, get published, or become an ABA leader. But who wants that?
You’re just a young lawyer, doing your day-to-day, 9–5 grind, and that’s totally fine. It’s not like you’re interested in growing professionally, developing your “brand,” and growing your network this early in your career—as they say, “better late[.]”
In conclusion, KITTEN.
Nasir Hussain is an associate attorney at Winston & Strawn LLP in Chicago, Illinois.