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Start your pathway to leadership in the ABA. 

The ABA Young Lawyers Division Leadership Academy is a 2-year leadership training program—a pipeline into national leadership for traditionally underrepresented attorneys.

The program includes:

  • Two years of targeted leadership training and experience.

  • Funding for travel.

  • Appointments to ABA YLD boards or teams.

  • Mentoring.

  • Writing Opportunities.

2024-25 applications are due March 15, 2024. To help prepare your application, you can download a PDF with the questions involved in the form

Current Leadership Academy Information

About the Leadership Academy

The American Bar Association Young Lawyers Division (Division) Leadership Academy provides participants (Scholars) with tangible skills, networking opportunities, and hands-on training to guarantee long-term success as leaders in bar service and the profession. 

Leadership Academy Goals

Develop. The Leadership Academy will develop impactful new and young lawyer leaders. 

Invest. The Leadership Academy will invest in the advancement of individuals historically marginalized and underrepresented in the legal profession. 

Create. The Leadership Academy will create meaningful appointments within the Association and the Division for Scholars who successfully complete their requirements. 

Empower. The Leadership Academy will empower Scholars to navigate the Association and Division. 


Association Membership

Each Scholar must remain an Association member in “good standing” throughout the program. Please visit: or call (800) 285-2221 for questions about your ABA membership status.

You will also be required to maintain an updated biography (and headshot) on the Division website.

Conference/Meeting Attendance and Participation

The Leadership Academy provides partial funding to attend three meetings/conferences per bar year. Each Scholar is required to attend all designated conferences for each year of participation. During each conference/meeting, each Scholar will be required to attend Council meetings as observers, opening and closing plenary, all identified CLE programming, Leadership Academy meetings/events, and any other event(s) identified by the Director. 

Assembly Participation 

The Assembly is the principal policy-making body of the Division. It serves as a gathering of young lawyers representing affiliated national, state, local, affinity, and specialty bar associations from across the country. During Assembly, many issues of importance to new and young lawyers are formed into resolutions, debated, and then voted on. Assembly is held twice a year. During the Midyear and Annual meetings. Scholars serve as delegates to the Division Assembly and hold voting privileges. Each Scholar is required to attend Assembly. Additionally, Scholars may be asked to assist with Assembly, at the discretion of the Director. 

Quarterly Reporting

Each Scholar will be required to submit a quarterly report via a designated method by the Director. The report will outline the activity for that quarter. Deadlines are set by the Director.

What Do Lawyers Do?

Each Scholar will be required to organize and host a local What Do Lawyers Do? Program (WDLD).  WDLD is aimed at providing information to college (undergraduate) students, particularly students attending a historically Black college or university or a Hispanic serving institution, concerning the different facets of the legal profession. Additionally, Scholars are also expected to attend any WDLD programming that the Diversity Team implements during Division conferences/meetings.

EMBRACING Diversity Challenge

Each Scholar will be required to coordinate an EMBRACING Diversity Challenge submission with a local or state affiliate or minority bar association. The EMBRACING Diversity Challenge provides grants  for local or state affiliates or minority bar associations who plan and implement winning diversity pipeline/pathway programs. 

Writing Requirement

Each Scholar will be required to produce one (approved) substantive writing requirement for the Division. This may include, an article for the After the Bar blog or The Young Lawyer Magazine (TYL), or drafting the White Paper for the Division’s Annual Diversity Dialogue following the Midyear meeting. 

Assembly Resolution

Scholars will be required to draft, submit, and advocate for a resolution in the Division Assembly.

Mentorship Program 

Each Scholar will actively participate in the Leadership Academy Mentoring Program.  In  the first year, each Scholar will be assigned a YLD leader or Year Two Scholar mentor and an Association mentor.  The Scholar will be required to meet with each of their mentors at least quarterly, in person or virtually.  During the second year, each Scholar will be assigned a Year 1 Scholar mentee and an Association mentor.  The Scholar will be required to meet with each of their mentors at least quarterly, in person or virtually.  

Additional Assignments  

Each second-year Scholar will receive up to two additional Division assignments to a Committee, Board, or Team. Scholars are expected to cooperate fully with the assigned Committee, Board, and Team. This may include, but is not limited to, participating on conference calls, planning and implementing programs, and writing articles for publications.

Contact Information