Meet Chauntis Jenkins: Your Next YLD Assembly Clerk
By Melissa Dewey Brumback
Melissa Dewey Brumback is an assistant editor of The Affiliate and practices with the firm of Ragsdale Liggett PLLC in Raleigh, North Carolina.
New Orleans litigator and, since January, partner at Porteous, Hainkel & Johnson, L.L.P., Chauntis T. Jenkins is preparing to assume her next leadership role—that of the ABA YLD Assembly Clerk for the 2007–08 year. The YLD Assembly is the legislative body of the ABA YLD, in which delegates representing thousands of young lawyers from across the country gather twice a year to discuss and debate important resolutions and policymaking decisions.
As YLD Assembly Clerk, Jenkins will be the second-in-command under the incoming YLD Assembly Speaker, who serves as the presiding officer over the Assembly meetings. That means that Jenkins will spend the next year helping the incoming Assembly Speaker to gather resolutions, ensure that the resolutions are debated by proponents of both sides of the issue, and provide for proper voting on the debated resolutions by the delegates at the midyear and annual YLD Assembly meetings.
The resolutions deal with a wide variety of issues that concern younger lawyers in practice. For example, a recent resolution centered on the importance of pro bono representation cases and who should absorb the costs associated with them. Another recent resolution focused on whether or not a supermajority should be required before the ABA took a position on a controversial matter. Resolutions come from both YLD members and on recommendation from the ABA seeking the YLD’s input on important legal principles.
Jenkins is officially running for Assembly Clerk, but she is in an unopposed election. Of her pending role, Jenkins says that she believes it is important to support the issues that are important to younger lawyers. As is tradition, following her stint as Assembly Clerk, she will likely be elected to serve as Assembly Speaker in the 2008–09 year.
Jenkins first became involved in the ABA and YLD through the support and encouragement of a lawyer mentor. In 2002, she learned of and applied for a Minority in the Profession Committee (MIPC) scholarship, which enabled her to attend YLD conferences that year by providing financial assistance.
According to Jenkins, that scholarship proved to be very timely and very influential. “It helped propel me to get involved and to stay involved,” she said. Attending the YLD conferences that year, she found a lot of people were very supportive of her efforts to become even more involved, and she was invited to be on the Host Committee for that year’s spring conference, held in her hometown of New Orleans.
“Being involved is what you put into it,” Jenkins said, and her record within the YLD has shown her level of commitment. Since her MIPC scholarship, she has served on the CLE/Professional Development Committee, as chair of the Minorities in the Profession Committee, as diversity director, and on the Leadership Advisory Board. Currently, she serves as one of four committee directors and is responsible for overseeing approximately twenty committees within the YLD.
Within the larger ABA, Jenkins is a scholar in the inaugural class of the ABA Tort Trial & Insurance Practice Section (TIPS) Leadership Academy and a member of the ABA YLD Leadership Advisory Board. She is the current vice-chair of the TIPS Automobile Law Committee and has recently been appointed as chair-elect of the Committee for the 2007–08 year.
Jenkins, a native of New Orleans, also serves in leadership roles within her community currently serving as at-large representative in the Louisiana State Bar Association Young Lawyers Section. She is also a past chair of the Young Lawyers Section of the New Orleans Bar Association and New Orleans Bar Association Minorities in the Profession Committee, a member of the Louisiana Association of Defense Counsel, and a member of the Greater New Orleans Louis A. Martinet Legal Society.
Working in New Orleans following Hurricane Katrina has proved both challenging and rewarding, Jenkins said. As an insurance defense lawyer, Jenkins is on the front line dealing with the insurance issues every day. Stated Jenkins, “It is rewarding to know that the work we are doing now is reshaping the insurance industry. What we do here will affect how the industry deals with other disasters in other areas of the country.”
Jenkins is a 1995 graduate of Loyola University of New Orleans, and a 1998 graduate of Southern University Law Center. During law school, Jenkins served as associate editor of Southern University Law Review, president of the Women in Law Society, vice-president of the Student Bar Association, and as a teaching assistant for the subjects of torts and legal writing.