Thanks for the Hospitality, Charlotte
By Josiah J. Puder
Josiah J. Puder is an assistant editor of The Affiliate and practices with the Roseland, New Jersey, firm of Lum, Drasco & Positan LLC.
A heavy influx of Northern transplants tempered by characteristic Southern charm made Charlotte, North Carolina, the ideal venue for the ABA YLD’s 2007 Fall Conference. From October 4–6, more than 250 young lawyers descended on the city’s predominately bank-driven “uptown” area. This year’s Fall Conference focused on education, public service, and leadership.
A full day of plenary and CLE programming brought together panelists and participants from Hawaii to Florida and featured such programs as “Sorry, I Don’t Speak ‘Lawyer’” and “Top 10 Things That Get Tax Lawyers in Trouble (Ethics).” One program, entitled, “Movie Magic: How the Masters Try Cases,” garnered particular popularity for its use of film clips to highlight ways to handle common trial problems. Sylvia Cardona from San Antonio, Texas, and president-elect of the Texas Young Lawyers Association, found the program “entertaining” and noted that it “added some good points and useful trial tidbits that litigators sometimes ignore.”

What First Timers Had to Say

  Why did you decide to attend the Fall Conference?

Christele Demuro, Irvine, California:

I decided to attend the conference for a few reasons. I hope to get involved in ABA leadership in the future, and I thought this would be a good way to learn more about the organization as a whole. Also, there is an immigration program tomorrow that is of interest to me. This is also a great opportunity to network and meet other bar leaders.


Shelly Stokes, Woodbury, Connecticut:

I decided to attend the conference because I wanted to know more about the ABA. This meeting in particular was a good start because the location is convenient and there’s a program tomorrow dealing with the tri-partite relationship in insurance. Also, I am considering attending an insurance section meeting and this was a good way to see how the meetings work.

Some ABA YLD conference attendees were also panelists and provided engaging CLE programming to their colleagues. For example, Elizabeth Bleakley from Chicago, Illinois, who is chair of the ABA YLD Business Law Committee, found it very comfortable presenting to other young lawyers and emphasized the usefulness of conducting a CLE. “It gave me a chance to meet and interact with other attorneys, and the preparation allows me to hone my understanding of the material. Speaking at an ABA event gives me credibility on a national level,” said Bleakley. “The networking opportunities [at ABA YLD conferences] are enormous,” she added.
Public Service
An implementation of this year’s Public Service Project, “Wills For Heroes,” was held at the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Department, where approximately 202 first responders received a basic, notarized will as a result of the efforts of close to forty young lawyer volunteers. “Wills for Heroes” has continued to increase its reach since its kickoff at the ABA’s Annual Meeting in San Francisco, California, in August 2007. “The participation and help from the North Carolina Bar Association was incredible and allowed us to better market the program, which brought about greater involvement from both the first responder and volunteer communities,” said Daniel McKenna of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, the ABA YLD’s Public Service Coordinator. “This enabled us to increase the fluidity of the program and implement procedures to accommodate the needs of both groups. Such procedures included a kids’ room, which allowed parents to get their wills without the need of a babysitter, and a shuttle bus, which made it easier for both volunteers and spectators to attend.”
Heath Gilbert, a member of Fall Conference Host Committee and a Division Director for the North Carolina Bar Association YLD, also volunteered his time at the Mecklenburg Police Department in order to help first responders. “A friend of mine who is a police officer and who I had not seen since college showed up. It was just extremely gratifying to help those who help us every day,” Gilbert said. He added that “people were really touched by what the attorneys did for them and I think many of the participants here would like to make this a permanent program in this state.”
As is always the case at ABA YLD meetings, this year’s Fall Conference allowed young lawyers to network and compare notes on how to strengthen their local young lawyer organizations. A “First Timers Reception,” complete with name tags and “first timer” ribbons, engaged new attendees and introduced them to conference veterans. Chris Rogers, a District Representative from Dallas, Texas, and a member of the Public Service and Conferences Team, indicated that the “first timer” turnout in Charlotte was “larger than usual,” and he was extremely pleased by the interaction between perennial attendees and first timers. Harsharn Makkar of Duluth, Georgia, a first-time attendee, vice-chair of the Asia-Pacific Committee (ABA Section of International Law), and co-editor of the Asia Law News, “had a great time” at the conference and was “thrilled to meet people from across the country.”
The ABA YLD kicked off its year of Summits on October 6 with the Young Bar Leader Summit. The Summit presented affiliate leaders with important programming such as “Developing an Annual Report,” “Developing a Model Diversity Plan,” and “Developing Future Bar Leaders,” which they could immediately begin to implement in their local young lawyer organizations. During the Summit, affiliate leaders discussed ways for young lawyer groups to demonstrate value and relevance in an era of cost-cutting and restructuring.
Upcoming ABA YLD summits include the ABA YLD Membership Summit (ABA Midyear Meeting, February 7–9, 2008, Los Angeles, California) and the ABA YLD Diversity Summit (ABA YLD Spring Conference, April 16–19, 2008, Washington, D.C.). For more information on the ABA YLD’s Fall Conference, please visit