Just Say "Yes" To Free Assistance From the ABA YLD
By Dustin K. Hunter
Dustin K. Hunter is an assistant editor of The Affiliate and a principal in the Roswell, New Mexico firm of Kraft & Hunter LLP.
What would you say if someone offered you financial assistance to conduct young lawyer activities, offered to send a representative to help implement your organization’s service project, or offered to help develop programs to increase membership in your organization? Chances are, you would accept the help with open arms rather than say “no thanks.” Yet, saying “no thanks” is exactly what dozens of young lawyer organizations do every year by not participating actively within the ABA YLD or fully utilizing the ABA YLD’s resources.
This article will highlight the top five benefits to ABA YLD affiliate membership, explain how your affiliate can take full advantage of affiliation, and help you understand what the ABA YLD can offer your organization.
Direct Assistance
Most affiliates have many of the same needs, such as help with service projects, membership recruitment, and retention while facing a climate in which other volunteer opportunities are competing for young lawyers’ time. The ABA YLD’s Affiliate Assistance Team (AAT) offers help with these issues and more, and as an ABA YLD affiliate, your young lawyer organization has unfettered access to the Team. The AAT is a direct mechanism by which the ABA YLD provides assistance and support to its more than 300 affiliate members. The AAT consists of YLD members who have served in and successfully led state and local young lawyers organizations and as such, have a great deal of expertise and a breath of experience with common problems faced by affiliates. Erika Anderson, chair of the New Mexico State Bar Young Lawyers Division and a member of the Affiliate Assistance Team, believes that the AAT is one of the most important, yet underutilized resources of the ABA YLD. The AAT’s resources can be extremely helpful to affiliates just starting up or to those that have recently become active. The AAT provides support on a variety of levels through on-site assistance, written materials and information, e-mail, or phone conferences. Most of the services are available at no or very low cost to the affiliate. The AAT is here to help. Requests for assistance can be submitted directly on the ABA YLD website at www.abanet.org/yld/affiliateleaders/aateam.html .
Eligibility to Receive Subgrants ($)
In accordance with its governing principles and to promote public and member-sponsored service projects, the ABA YLD awards subgrants to numerous young lawyers affiliates each year to assist them in undertaking service projects. Two types of subgrants are available through the YLD. The first is for projects that serve the public generally—public service subgrants, which are awarded to affiliates whose programs are designed to provide law-related services to population segments that are not currently or adequately served by the law. The second type of subgrant is for those projects that serve the members of a young lawyers organization—member service subgrants, which are awarded for those projects that focus on professionalism/ethics, member development/recruitment, and membership support. Priority for both types of subgrants is given to affiliates with small annual budgets, affiliates new to the ABA YLD, and to minority projects. Subgrants are available for a wide range of events, including public service projects to reach “at risk” youth, member service projects such as mentorship programs, or diversity job fairs. The amount of each subgrant also varies greatly. Typical awards can range from less than $200 to more than a thousand dollars. You can find out more information about the ABA YLD subgrant program on the ABA YLD website at www.abanet.org/yld/affiliateleaders/subgrantfunding.html .
Public Service Opportunities
As the service arm of their local bar associations, young lawyers affiliates are typically charged with developing and implementing projects or programs to serve the public. This is a difficult task that can be made much easier through affiliation with the ABA YLD. The ABA YLD provides an extensive catalog of recent and successful public service programs from across the country, such as “Choose Law” (the ABA YLD’s 2006–2007 Public Service Project), for the various affiliates to participate in and share. The catalog of projects is located online at www.abanet.org/yld/projects.html . Subgrants may also be available to assist in implementing the programming.
Conference Scholarships and Funding
Affiliate members are also eligible for three types of scholarships through the ABA YLD. First, up to three representatives (four if one is a minority or a government or small firm or solo attorney) from each YLD affiliate are eligible for up to two-days per diem at $100 per day for their attendance at the ABA YLD’s Fall and Spring Conferences. Second, if your affiliate is new, or if you have not sent a representative to a national conference during the last three years, you may be eligible for a limited number of additional scholarships. These scholarships include airfare, per diem, and ground transportation. Third, minority, solo/small firm, government, private sector, and military service attorneys may be eligible for an extremely limited number of supplemental scholarships. The funding available includes funding for airfare, per diem, and ground transportation to the ABA Midyear Meeting and the ABA YLD Fall and Spring Conferences. Strict timetables and guidelines apply to each type of scholarship, so be sure to find out more information online at www.abanet.org/yld/affiliateleaders/funding.html .
Networking Opportunities
Although all of the financial and social support provided by the ABA YLD is important, probably the most significant and intangible benefit to being an ABA YLD affiliate is the opportunity to network with members of the YLD’s over 300 affiliate organizations. “Being involved with the ABA YLD has helped our state obtain national recognition, has helped our young leaders advance to national leadership positions, and helped me personally,” reiterated Anderson, chair of the New Mexico YLD. Many doors that would have remained closed have been opened through membership and affiliation with the ABA YLD.