September 27, 2018

9 Ways to Develop Your Oral Advocacy Skills with the ABA

Mathew Kerbis

The American Bar Association has a plethora of opportunities to develop your oral advocacy skills. From getting involved with a Section, Division, or Forum, to volunteering your time as a practical skills judge for law students. Here are nine ways that you can cultivate your oral advocacy skills within the ABA.

  1. Become an active member in the Young Lawyers Division and practice your oral advocacy skills as you argue in favor of adoption or against proposed resolutions. Twice a year, the Young Lawyers Division Assembly considers resolutions on a range of subject matters from gun violence to legal education. You can draft and submit a resolution of your choosing, and if it’s selected by the Resolutions Committee, come to the Midyear or Annual meeting to argue in favor of its adoption. Even if you do not submit a resolution, any Assembly Delegate can speak in favor or against a resolution. Learn more about the Assembly and sign up to be a Delegate: https://www.americanbar.org/groups/young_lawyers/about_us/assembly.html
  2. Sometimes the best way to improve your skillset is to consider your arguments from another perspective. Volunteering to be a judge for the ABA Law Student Division Practical Skills Competitions will allow you to do just that. The practical skills competitions include: Arbitration, Client Counseling, National Appellate Advocacy, and Negotiation. How to become a judge: https://abaforlawstudents.com/events/law-student-competitions/practical-skills-competitions/
  3. Perhaps one of the most impactful ways that you can practice your oral advocacy skills in the ABA is to join association leaders in Washington, DC, as they lobby Congress on behalf of the profession. ABA Day takes place every spring in our nation’s capital. Prepare your talking points with the ABA Governmental Affairs Office before grouping up with your state’s delegation to meet with congressional leaders on issues that impact lawyers and access to justice across the country. Participate in the next ABA Day: https://www.americanbar.org/advocacy/governmental_legislative_work/aba-day.html
  4. Pro bono work is always a great way to both practice your skillset and do good at the same time. The ABA’s Center for Pro Bono has ample pro bono opportunities where you can develop your oral advocacy among other legal skills all while helping those in need. Find out more at the Center for Pro Bono: https://www.americanbar.org/groups/probono_public_service/resources/volunteer_opportunities.html
  5. Practice is not the only way to improve your skills. Sometimes you also need words of wisdom from a seasoned attorney. Learn about oral advocacy from a mentor, such as through the GPSolo Division’s Buddy Program. Learn more and sign up for the program here: https://www.americanbar.org/groups/gpsolo/initiatives/buddy-program.html
  6. Is reading more your style? The ABA has 55 publications on advocacy. Find a book: https://shop.americanbar.org/eBus/publications.aspx?term=advocacy
  7. Get your CLE credit while developing your oral advocacy skills simultaneously. The ABA has CLEs on oral advocacy, such as the upcoming “Effective Oral Advocacy: How to Prepare for and Handle Oral Argument.” Register now: https://shop.americanbar.org/ebus/ABAEventsCalendar/EventDetails.aspx?productId=335409161&term=%22oral+advocacy%22
  8. Find an ABA practice group that involves degrees of oral advocacy including Litigation, TIPS, Family Law, Criminal Justice, and more. Sections: https://www.americanbar.org/groups/sections.html Forums: https://www.americanbar.org/groups/forums.html
  9. Practice advocating for yourself and your business by networking. Attend ABA events in your area and around the country. ABA Events Calendar: https://shop.americanbar.org/ebus/abaeventscalendar.aspx
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Mathew Kerbis

Mathew Kerbis is an associate attorney at Condon & Cook in Chicago, Illinois.