Policymaking 101: How to Convert Your Idea into a Resolution

Daiquiri J. Steele
The Assembly is the policymaking body of the YLD, and delegates to the Assembly consider resolutions for possible adoption.

The Assembly is the policymaking body of the YLD, and delegates to the Assembly consider resolutions for possible adoption.

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Twice a year, the American Bar Association (ABA) Young Lawyers Division (YLD) holds its Assembly. The Assembly is the policymaking body of the YLD, and delegates to the Assembly consider resolutions for possible adoption. While all Division members have access to the resolutions and their accompanying reports via the YLD Assembly webpage, many YLD members may be unaware of the process by which a resolution gets to Assembly.

It All Starts with an Idea

As with any final product, the process begins with an idea. Any individual, ABA YLD entity, or affiliate who has an idea for a resolution should begin by completing a Resolution Idea Form and submitting it to the Assembly Speaker. Ideas can be in their infancy, as the form does not require much information. Each year, Resolution Idea Forms are due on or around September 15th for Midyear Assembly and March 31st for Annual Assembly. The Resolutions Team will review the forms and select the ideas they think are most appropriate to docket for the upcoming Assembly.

Collaboration Is Key

Once you receive notification from the Resolutions Team that your idea has been selected, it is time to start collaborating. Collaboration with other ABA YLD committees, teams, boards, and affiliates is integral to the resolution’s success. Contacting other entities serves a dual purpose. First, it helps you gauge the level of interest in and agreement with the idea. For instance, if you have contacted fifteen entities and none of them are interested, it may serve as a measure of young lawyer interest in general. Second, reaching out to other YLD entities helps you broaden your perspective. The inclusion of different perspectives will ultimately enhance your resolution and accompanying report. When seeking entities with which to collaborate, think broadly. Ensure you have all of your substantive areas of law covered by reaching out to those respective committees. Additionally, you should also think of diversity and outreach committees that may be interested. If the subject of a resolution disproportionately affects a particular group, such as racial or ethnic minorities, women, individuals with disabilities, or the LGBT community, consider collaborating with those respective committees, as well as the YLD national affiliates. If the resolution is attempting to get all states and territories to adopt a practice that some states have already adopted, consider soliciting support from YLD affiliates in those jurisdictions that have already adopted the measure. Finally, consider partnering with other ABA entities outside of the YLD.

Liaise with the Liaisons

Given that the ABA has more than 3,500 entities, there will be at least one entity that has an interest in your resolution no matter what the topic. A great way to reach out to other ABA entities is to use the YLD liaisons. The liaisons can assist you in identifying the appropriate individual(s) with whom to speak. They may also be interested in serving as an advocate of sorts for the resolution during meetings or email exchanges amongst the members of the other entity.

Put It on Paper

At this point, you have created the idea and garnered support both inside and outside of the Division for the resolution. Now it is time to use the information you have learned from your research and through conversations with others to draft your resolution and report. The Assembly webpage contains a drafting guide and a sample resolution/report. Use them! The Resolutions Team is also available to answer any questions you may have during the drafting process. Once the drafting is completed, be sure to send the resolution to appropriate entities for comment. Send a copy to your co-sponsoring entities, as well as to other entities that did not opt to co-sponsor, but may be able to provide useful feedback. You must complete the drafting of the resolution in enough time solicit feedback. Once, you have incorporated feedback and all sponsors are satisfied with the final product, send the finalized resolution to the Resolutions Team.

Take Advantage of the Waiting Period

After you submit the final product to the Resolutions Team, the next step is to have it brought before the Assembly. However, use the time between submission and Assembly to raise awareness about the issues being addressed in the resolution. 

For more information about resolutions, visit the ABA YLD Assembly webpage.

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Daiquiri J. Steele

Daiquiri J. Steele is the director of diversity & inclusion and assistant professor of law in residence at the University of Alabama School of Law. She serves the ABA YLD as diversity director and a member of the Resolutions Team. She also serves as director of ABA Involvement for the State Bar of Georgia YLD.