Bootcamp for New Lawyers, From Philadelphia to the ABA YLD

Volume 37, Number 3


Sam Edmunds is an Assistant Editor of The Affiliate and an Associate with the Eagan, Minnesota, firm of Campbell Knutson P.A.

Two years ago, Rachel Kopp, the current ABA YLD Administrative Director, was serving as the Financial Secretary for the Young Lawyers Division of the Philadelphia Bar Association. In that capacity she co-chaired the Philadelphia YLD committee Legal Education & Law School Outreach Committee. As she pondered potential projects and initiatives for the committee, she had an idea—a rigorous half-day educational program for brand new lawyers and law students.

Rachel saw a gap in the array of continuing legal education programs. Brand new lawyers did not receive training in the practical aspects of lawyering. Rachel says that the “idea was to provide programming for new lawyers and law students on some of the professional development and other practical skills that they did not learn in law school.” The “New Lawyer Bootcamp” was born.


Filling the Gap

In Philadelphia, YLD Bootcamp: Tactics, Tips and Tricks for Law Students and New Lawyers is a half-day event and has occurred in each of the past two successive years. The first Bootcamp was held in February of 2010 and attracted approximately 110 new lawyers and law students. Four panel discussions focused on some of the most basic skills that are necessary to the practice of law. The topics included “Entering Unknown Territory: Choosing a Career Path”; “Honoring the Veterans: Advice from the Bench”; “Accepting Your Mission: Getting the Most Out of Your First Job”; “Leading the Troops: Considerations Before Starting Your Own Practice”; and “Earning Your Stripes: the Nuts and Bolts of Networking.”

During the Bootcamp’s second year, the Philadelphia YLD presented a new and improved event. This time the programs included an additional focus to assist those new lawyers who were affected by the economic downturn, including two new sessions—“Exploring the Road Less Traveled: Choosing Alternate Career Paths” and “Overcoming Enemy Lines: How to Thrive at Your First Job in a Down Economy.” Each year, the Bootcamp panels were followed by a networking happy hour during which the new lawyers and law students met and mingled with the presenters and other practicing attorneys. Both programs were very well received.

Taking It National

While Rachel was a top leader in the Philadelphia YLD, she was also a rising star within the ABA YLD. Last year, as Membership Director, Rachel decided to bring the Bootcamp format to the national level. Rachel and the members of her Membership Board discussed how to transition the Philadelphia YLD Bootcamp from a single city to the national stage. They decided to use teleconferencing technology to offer the Bootcamp as separate monthly sessions. Once the foundation for the ABA YLD Bootcamp Series was in place, Rachel asked Keri-Ann Baker, a member of the Membership Board and current Membership Director, to implement the program for the ABA YLD.

The ABA YLD Bootcamp took place during the 2010–2011 bar year. The project was broken into six segments. Four of the segments were offered in live teleconference format, while the remaining two segments were run as in-person presentations. The live sessions took place at the ABA Midyear Meeting in Atlanta, Georgia, in February 2011. Just like the Philadelphia Bootcamp, the six segments were designed to teach basic lawyering skills to brand new lawyers. Each segment featured talented speakers active in the ABA YLD and its Affiliates. The programs offered included:

•       Session 1: “Entering Unknown Territory: Choosing a Career Path,”

•       Session 2: “Accepting Your Mission: Getting the Most Out of Your First Job,”

•       Session 3: “Earning Your Stripes: The Nuts & Bolts of Networking,”

•       Session 4: “Serving Your Comrades: How to Become a Superstar Associate,”

•       Session 5: “Honoring the Judicial Veterans: Advice from the Bench,” and

•       Session 6: “Leading the Troops: Considerations Before Starting Your Own Practice.”

Keri-Ann was assisted by two hardworking ABA YLD Scholars, Zoe Polk and Micah Hall, and she wanted to thank them for their work and dedication to this very successful project. Keri-Ann’s work on the New Lawyers Bootcamp Series received perhaps the most noteworthy recognition. She was appointed by the current ABA YLD Chair to serve as Membership Director for the 2011–2012 bar year.

The ABA YLD Bootcamp Series received rave reviews from young lawyers across the country. The four teleconference programs are available online at



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