Chris Jennison serves as the Chair of the Standing Committee on Paralegals. He has previously served as an Approval Commissioner (2016-17) and has been a member of the Standing Committee since 2017.
Professionally, Chris is an Employment and Labor Law Attorney Advisor with the Federal Aviation Administration. He was previously an Honors Attorney at the U.S. Department of Transportation. He is admitted in the state of Maryland, and is an active member of the Maryland State and American Bar Associations. In the MSBA, he is Chair of the Section of Legal Education and Admissions to the Bar, and also serves as a MSBA representative in the ABA's House of Delegates. Within the ABA, he is also active in the ABA Young Lawyers Division, where he serves as an officer from from 2019-21 (Clerk 2019-20, Speaker 2020-21).
Chris is currently an appointed member and Chair of the Montgomery County Commission on Juvenile Justice, and an elected director of the Strathmore-Bel Pre Recreation Association. Chris serves as an Emergency Medical Technician (EMT) with the Bethesda-Chevy Chase Rescue Squad. He has held his EMT certification since 2009. He lives in Silver Spring, MD, with his wife, daughter, and rescue dog, Teddy.
I have had a few questions come my way in my time as Chair of the Standing Committee about how I got involved. After all, only a few years into practice, I had not had extensive professional experience in working with paralegals. Getting those questions, I thought I’d share how I became involved with the Standing Committee and Approval Commission: I showed up.
In my third year of law school, I served as the law student member of the ABA’s Board of Governors, and through that role, was also assigned as the liaison to the Standing Committee on Paralegals. I showed up to my first meeting as Liaison, and continued to show up as liaison, sharing business of the ABA Board with the Committee and trying to improve the work of the Committee through the ABA’s leadership hierarchy. By continuing to show up, I was able to be appointed to the Approval Commission for a year, where I was fortunate to do several site visits to a few of our ABA approved programs who were seeking re-approval. It’s amazing to see the dedication that our approved programs have to upholding the expectations of the ABA and the promise of ABA approval for their students and graduates in ensuring success as paralegals.
In 2017, I was appointed to the Standing Committee, and was appointed as Chair in 2018. The Standing Committee is charged with some of the more conceptual work of the ABA’s paralegal function: figuring out how to promote paralegal utilization, concurring in the work of the Approval Commission, responding to the changing landscape of legal regulation. There are some big challenges and changes coming down the road, which the Standing Committee is and must continue to tackle.