A.J. Schaeffer: A Leader by Example
By Jeffrey J. White
Jeffrey J. White is an assistant editor of The Affiliate and practices law with the firm of Robinson & Cole LLP in Hartford, Connecticut.
 Dwight Eisenhower once said that “[t]he qualities of a great man are vision, integrity, courage, understanding, the power of articulation, and profundity of character.” Many of these famous words could easily describe the qualities of Andrew J. (“A.J.”) Schaeffer, who has been actively serving the ABA YLD since his first year as a practicing lawyer.
Schaeffer has a long record of bar service and professional accomplishments, including being ABA YLD affiliate outreach and program director for two years, chair of the Kentucky Bar Association Young Lawyers Section, and chair of the Board of Vision 2015, which is a regional coalition of business executives, elected officials, and civic leaders, charged with implementing a ten-year strategic plan for Northern Kentucky. Indeed, the City of Covington, Kentucky, declared October 27, 2006, to be “Andrew J. (A.J.) Schaeffer Day.”
Yet, Schaeffer cannot be summed up merely by a look at his résumé. When a reporter for The Cincinnati and Kentucky Post profiled Schaeffer’s leadership in Greater Cincinnati, he asked Schaeffer’s friends and colleagues to describe his leadership style. Their responses were impressive: “consensus builder,” “never pretentious, “feet planted on the earth,” and “understands complex ideas.”
Schaeffer is an unopposed candidate for the office on ABA YLD Secretary-Treasurer and plans on honing these qualities as he prepares to assume that office. As a candidate for Secretary-Treasurer, Schaeffer took time to speak with The Affiliate about a broad range of topics relating to the YLD and the legal profession in general.
A Call to Leadership in the ABA YLD
The Affiliate : Why are you running for Secretary-Treasurer?
Schaeffer: My candidacy for Secretary-Treasurer was inspired by the YLD’s aptitude, appetite, and unique capacity for broad-scale public service. Among many professional membership organizations, my experience with the YLD has been branded by focused, creatively targeted volunteer initiatives. My work on various YLD service projects ultimately evolved into an ambition to increase the potency of our projects and the breadth of young lawyer participation. Few roles afford a better pathway to those aims than an officer position.
The Affiliate : If elected, what would be the focus of your tenure as Secretary-Treasurer?
Schaeffer: As with any other organization, the core focus of the YLD’s Secretary-Treasurer must be that of stewardship and supervision over the organization’s fiscal affairs. Of particular focus for me will be the review of the Division’s fiscal practices and policies, and to ensure enhanced fiscal governance and responsibility.
A Strong Commitment to the ABA YLD
The Affiliate : What have you enjoyed the most about your time in the ABA YLD?
Schaeffer: I have enjoyed immensely the exposure that the YLD has given me to people of diversity. Having a generally rural, “small town” background, my YLD experience with persons of varying cultures, law practices, religions, races, orientations, and abilities has been inspiring. If you combine those experiences with members’ shared commitment to service in the profession and beyond, it’s hard to miss the enjoyment.
The Affiliate : What ABA YLD accomplishment or event are you most proud of?
Schaeffer: It hardly seems appropriate for me to “claim” any individual accomplishment since our work is so very team oriented and group structured. With that understanding, I believe I have contributed in a meaningful way as affiliate outreach and program director. Integrating, coordinating, and catalyzing the ideas and efforts of a broad and multi-faceted group has allowed me to contribute in ways I had not anticipated, but which I believe have added significant value for the Division.
A Message for Affiliate Leaders
The Affiliate : What message do you have for affiliate leaders?
Schaeffer: The ABA YLD is, as the old cliché goes, “what you make of it.” This is certainly true for affiliate leaders who have the greatest capacity—not only individually, but institutionally—to invigorate and engage a broader cross-section of young lawyers. Few are better situated through personal relationships and the auspices of their elected positions to broaden the Division’s impact.
The Affiliate : How do you think your affiliate leadership experience will help you in your role as a leader of the ABA YLD?
Schaeffer: Affiliate leadership was and is, in many respects, a microcosm and a training ground for Division office. The experiences of a state affiliate chair mirror in many ways the diplomatic, programmatic, and planning elements of YLD office, and I am certainly better qualified to be YLD Secretary-Treasurer as a result of having that
history. The benefit of seeing and managing the dynamics of an affiliate have long been helpful in my work in the
Plans for the Future
The Affiliate : What are the most significant challenges facing the legal profession today?
Schaeffer: Our profession will be challenged to adapt in an era when flexible schedules, work-family balance, and other quality of life considerations dominate discourse among young lawyers. Promising professional success, alone, will not attract, nor retain, a diverse, talented population in the law, and addressing this dynamic in the context of other pressures will be a critical success factor.
The Affiliate : What is your vision for the future for the ABA YLD?
Schaeffer: I aspire to be active in Division leadership during a period when the YLD measurably expands the active involvement of a broader membership. It is obviously the goal of every Division officer to achieve full member participation, but it is my intention to place renewed emphasis and new strategies on that goal. Member-participation rates are important metrics by which we must, at least in part, measure our success, and the Division’s potential for an expanded and greater impact lies in that arena.