2008 National Outstanding Young Lawyer Award Goes to D.C. Solo Practitioner Youshea A. Berry
By Hope Caldwell
Hope Caldwell is an Assistant City Solicitor with the City of Philadelphia and a member of the ABA YLD Membership Board. She can be contacted at caldwellhope@yahoo.com.
Don’t reinvent the wheel. That is just one of Youshea A. Berry’s many tips to getting published. Her career path, however, has found her inventing new avenues for success everyday. By getting published in local and national publications, Berry has used examples of her own practice to turn into articles and thereby establish herself as a reputable writer, along with her many other accomplishments.
Berry’s involvement and leadership at the local bar level and community, as well as within the American Bar Association, has lead to her next great accolade—she is the recipient of the ABA YLD’s 2008 National Outstanding Young Lawyer Award. The Award, in its second year, is given to a young lawyer who exhibits professional excellence, service to the profession and the bar, service to community, and/or who has a reputation for the advancement of legal ethics and professional responsibility.
In her own career Berry has provided many examples of each of those attributes, including the creation of a successful solo practice, Law Office of Youshea A. Berry PLLC, focusing on real estate law and small business/corporate law. She has volunteered for many positions within the ABA, including with the Solo, Small Firm & General Practice Division, where she was a Diversity Fellow as well as a subcommittee vice-chair.
“One of the most amazing parts of being in the ABA is the support, mentorship possibilities, and the leadership potential that others have seen in me, especially as liaison to the standing Committee on Ethics and Professional Responsibility,” Berry said.
What set Berry apart from the other applicants for the National Outstanding Young Lawyer Award is her involvement in her community within Washington, D.C., and its surrounding areas.
As Omar Muhammad, Director of Morgan State University’s Entrepreneurial Development and Assistance Center, stated in his recommendation of Berry: “She shares her knowledge and experience in the legal field by volunteering, speaking engagements, and providing legal advice to help other entrepreneurs to succeed.” He explained how Berry displayed her spirit and commitment to helping entrepreneurs beyond her own community by volunteering for a two-month program, Operation Crossroads Africa, in Ghana.
Further, Berry’s focus on the importance of community service has lead her to volunteer with DC Cares, Habitat for Humanity, Girls on the Run, Girl Scouts of the U.S.A., and the Maryland Volunteer Lawyers Service, just to name a few.
Following law school at Emory University School of Law, where she was a Presidential Scholar, Berry worked as a congressional fellow for a congressman in Washington, D.C., and then became a staff attorney for the Community Law Center in Baltimore. In 2005, just three years after graduating, she opened her own practice, which she still manages while organizing bar association and CLE events and pro bono opportunities. She juggles all of this while also being a new mom to Coreah, age one, and a wife to husband, Steve Rollins. She points to the great teamwork between her and her husband with keeping everything in line.
Berry said she knows the old saying that you should not mix business with pleasure, but she finds that mix beneficial when she can get out and play basketball with the Lady Lawyers Basketball League ( www.getinthegamehoops.org ). The league comprises more than 300 lawyers and their friends and provides Berry an outlet for networking and exercise.
“You might not have enough time to do everything, but you can find enough events and activities to mix with the objectives you have,” Berry said. Her career and volunteerism are a testament to that.
Runners up for the 2008 National Outstanding Young Lawyer Award are David Gonzalez of Texas and Tara Richard of Louisiana. For more information about the Award, visit www.abanet.org/yld/awards/oyla .