Around the Country
Compiled by Blake R. Laurence
Blake R. Laurence is an Assistant Editor of The Affiliate and an Associate with the Freehold, New Jersey, firm of Lomurro, Davison, Eastman & Muñoz.
Even though summer is upon us, ABA YLD affiliates have not slowed down and continue to give back to the communities where they work and live.
Community Outreach
The Maricopa County (Arizona) Bar Association Young Lawyers Division helped to make Dr. King’s dream a reality by participating in Arizona’s first “MLK Day of Service” campaign. The YLD worked with the Governor’s Commission on Service and Volunteerism to coordinate and host a forum and service project entitled They Had a Dream Too. After participating in the MLK Day march, nearly 200 people convened at the Kenilworth Elementary School gymnasium to participate in a forum that featured a presentation of the film They Had a Dream Too. Local teens gave speeches on the future of civil rights and participated in a panel discussion on current civil rights issues from community activists and scholars. Everyone in attendance made a commitment to nonviolence.
The Bay County (Florida) Bar Association Young Lawyers Section held its first ever “Holidays in January” event on January 27. There were 124 toys available for children of a variety of ages. In fact, so many toys were collected that the remainder were donated to the Children’s Advocacy Center. Numerous members of the community donated sweets for the children as well. This event gave young lawyers the opportunity to give back to the community. The Bay County YLD looks forward to another year of “Holidays in January” in 2010.
On March 26, the Young Lawyers Section of the State Bar of Michigan hosted a charity event to benefit HAVEN (Help Against Violent Encounters Now), a domestic violence shelter and resource center in Oakland County. As part of the charity event, all attendees donated as many old cell phones as they could for the benefit of HAVEN. Old cell phones, even without a service plan, will still work to call 911 emergency services (police, fire, and medical) and are a great benefit for many survivors at HAVEN. This event aligns with the nationwide goal of the American Bar Association of helping to reduce and eventually work toward the elimination of domestic violence in America.
The New Mexico State Bar Young Lawyers Division is implementing the “Children’s Court Special Programs Mentorship Program.” Volunteers will be paired with a child who is successfully completing probation within Children’s Court. Mentors will participate in various activities designed to encourage professionalism and interpersonal skills. Some of the exciting events and activities that are planned include a YLD-sponsored shopping trip to help select professional attire for court appearances and job interviews, learning/community service projects, barbeques, and other social gatherings throughout the months of April, May, and June 2009. A graduation ceremony will be held on the mentee’s successful completion of either Drug Court or Program for Empowerment of Girls.
The Utah Young Lawyers Division co-sponsored a toy drive for children exposed to domestic violence at home. The outpouring of generosity from local law firms and lawyers was evident as toys were donated to two shelters: the SLC YWCA and the Family Support Center. A group of young lawyers visited each facility and participated in a special game night with the children and custodial parents. The experience was very rewarding for the volunteer young lawyers as well as the children and parents.
Giving Back
On April 16, the Austin Young Lawyers Association (AYLA of Texas) partnered with the Seton Family of Hospitals for “National Healthcare Decision Day.” The young lawyers volunteered to help educate patients on the importance of advanced healthcare directives. These directives allow individuals to make healthcare choices before the time when they may lose capacity to make critical healthcare decisions for themselves. In addition, to raise awareness, Seton and AYLA conducted a series of “Education Day” workshops during the week of April 13–17.
In May, young lawyers from the Cameron County Young Lawyers Association (CCYLA of Texas) volunteered their time to prove up the final stage of adoptions for children who were in the custody of Child Protective Services during “Adoption Day.” Each CCYLA volunteer was assigned a family to whom he or she explained the finalization procedure and then completed the adoption. The CCYLA finalized eight adoptions during Adoption Day.
The Illinois State Bar Association Young Lawyers Division held its first annual “Summer Soiree” to benefit the Illinois Bar Foundation Young Lawyers Division’s Children’s Assistance Fund (CAF) on June 5. The Young Lawyers Division uses the CAF to provide grants to help establish children’s waiting rooms in Illinois courthouses throughout the state and to provide grants to other organizations that relate to both children and the law. The event raised almost $10,000 and was attended by over 100 lawyers and their guests at the Chicago Cultural Center. A silent auction also helped raise money for CAF.
The Philadelphia Bar Association Young Lawyers Division, in conjunction with the Pennsylvania Bar Institute, sponsored its first PBI “Welcome to the Bar” event. Three concurrent events were held in PBI’s Philadelphia, Mechanicsburg, and Pittsburgh locations. The programs included comments from keynote speakers, Justice Jane Cutler Greenspan in Philadelphia, Justice J. Michael Eakin in Mechanicsburg, and Justice Max Baer and Justice Debra Todd in Pittsburgh, all from the Pennsylvania Supreme Court. A YLD representative also spoke about the YLD at each location.
On February 27, as part of the “Live Lunch and Learn” program, the Philadelphia (Pennsylvania) Bar Association Young Lawyers Division sponsored a CLE entitled “Self Defense: Legal and Real Life Aspects of Protecting Yourself,” which offered a fun and interesting way to earn CLE credits. The CLE program taught the law of self-defense, including what Pennsylvania law allows, what self-defense is designed to accomplish, and what goes too far in defending yourself. The real fun followed the lively discussion when local jujitsu instructors provided a hands-on self-defense demonstration, teaching attendees simple techniques to defend themselves in common situations.
Young lawyers from the New Mexico State Bar Young Lawyers Division volunteered their time as part of the “Wills for Heroes” program on March 27 at the 2nd Judicial District Courthouse. The volunteers wrote wills and family estate planning documents for Albuquerque’s first responders, police officers and firefighters who put themselves in harm’s way every day. The attorneys helped firefighters and police officers who otherwise might not have sought the costly legal services. At the event, twenty-two volunteer attorneys worked one-on-one with forty-eight first responders and their families. In addition, ten paralegal volunteers provided notary services and served as witnesses.
On February 10 the San Antonio (Texas) Young Lawyers Association sponsored a “Just Take One” pro bono case program with the Community Justice Program. The mission of the Community Justice Program is to provide free neighborhood-based legal services to individuals who may not otherwise have access to the legal system, as well as to provide local attorneys with an opportunity to engage in pro bono work within a comprehensive and efficient setting. Since its inception in October 2002, the CJP has matched more than 2,900 pro bono cases with volunteer attorneys.
The Utah Young Lawyer’s Division is committed to assisting young lawyers in beginning and expanding their practices and knowledge base. Toward that end, the YLD is in the process of developing an online “Practice Resources Database,” which will include form documents, general overviews of particular areas of law, and other tools to assist young lawyers in their career progress. Although still in its infancy, the Utah YLD is excited about the future of this initiative.
To thank its volunteers and prepare for another successful Law Day program, on June 17, the Wisconsin Young Lawyers Division (WI YLD) held a “Law Day Wrap-Up” Event in conjunction with the Fox Valley, Green Bay, and Appleton young lawyer groups. The WI YLD showed its appreciation for the more than fifty attorney volunteers who traveled to schools throughout the state, including rural areas, to educate students about the legacy of liberty in this great nation. Others in attendance provided their insights and feedback as to how the program can be improved and expanded to reach more students in more schools.
Kudos . . .
To Jonathan Lomurro, who received the Professional Achievement Award from the Young Lawyers Division of the New Jersey State Bar Association on May 13 during the organization’s annual meeting in Atlantic City. The Professional Achievement Award is given each year to a young lawyer in New Jersey who has received professional recognition through publications, excellence in a particular area of law, a significant verdict or law-changing appellate decision, or other professional achievement.
In addition, Christina Vassiliou received the Service to the Bar Award from the Young Lawyers Division of the New Jersey State Bar Association. The Service to the Bar Award is presented to a young lawyer who has dedicated considerable time to bar activities at the county, state, and/or national level, including specialty and minority bars.
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To highlight the achievements and successes of your affiliate, please send updates of member service or public service projects and related pictures to We look forward to recognizing your projects in future editions of The Affiliate and may even use them to lay the foundation for national outreach!