Advice to Affiliates: Getting to Know Your District Representative

Vol. 39 No. 3


Rachel G. Packer is an Assistant Editor of The Affiliate and an Associate in the New York City office of Blank Rome LLP.

If you find it daunting to keep track of the many constantly evolving activities, programs, and services offered by the ABA YLD, or wonder how to implement some of these projects within your own organization, then your District Representative, or “DR,” will be your new best friend. District Representatives are the eyes, ears, and voices of local and state Affiliates within the ABA YLD. Translation: Getting to know your DR and working closely with him or her is the key to maximizing your relationship with the ABA YLD.

Understanding the DR’s Role and Responsibilities

To understand why your DR plays such a pivotal role in your involvement with the ABA YLD, you need to know what a DR does. Here is a breakdown of a DR’s responsibilities.

Liaison—DRs bridge the gap between local Affiliates and the ABA YLD. This is done by:

  • Keeping Affiliates updated on Division activities, programs, and services;
  • Attending meetings and programming;
  • Submitting reports to the Division and district Affiliates regarding happenings within each organization, referred to as “DR Reports”;
  • Communicating information about their district’s Affiliates to the Division, and vice versa;
  • Keeping the contact information of the leadership and staff in their district’s Affiliates up-to-date; and
  • Maintaining relationships with district Affiliates, including those who do not attend Division meetings.

Coordinate Disaster Legal Services—DRs are one of the first points of contact for implementation of DLS programs in the event of a major disaster. Every year, DRs are required to attend FEMA training, which enables DRs to:

  • Coordinate Disaster Legal Services programs with FEMA;
  • Assemble district volunteers to provide legal services to affected individuals; and
  • Implement DLS programs and disaster plans within their districts.

Organize—DRs assist Affiliates with planning and organizing programs and projects:

  • Facilitating Affiliates’ use of the Affiliate Assistance Team;
  • Taking a hands-on approach to helping Affiliates plan and implement Division programs and projects; and
  • Identifying the needs of the Affiliates’ communities and the available volunteer and financial resources.

Recruit—DRs encourage other district young lawyer organizations to affiliate with the ABA YLD by:

  • Recruiting active unaffiliated young lawyer organizations within the district;
  • Revitalizing inactive Affiliates;
  • Encouraging diversity among Affiliates; and
  • Partnering with the Affiliate Assistance Team to maximize recruitment and revitalization.

Contribute—DRs act as key Division leaders by:

  • Developing action plans for implementing activities and projects within their districts;
  • Serving as a member of the ABA YLD Council;
  • Providing input on matters affecting the future of the Division;
  • Soliciting and assisting in development of Affiliate resolutions to be presented for consideration by the Division.

Communicating with Your DR

By now, you’ve probably figured out that regular communication between DRs and Affiliates is crucial. If you don’t already know who your DR is, click here for a list of the districts and current DR appointments (each DR serves a two-year term). Also, make sure your Affiliate profile and contact information is current in the Division’s records, in the event your DR (or anyone else in the Division, for that matter) is trying to get in touch with you. To update your Affiliate profile, click here. Your DR cannot evaluate your Affiliate’s needs, or provide any assistance or resources, if she cannot communicate with you.

The DRs and the Affiliate Assistance Team connect your Affiliate with the Division, and act as conduits for the exchange of ideas, information, and resources. Please make yourself available to them and respond to their inquiries when they reach out to you. Each month, your DR will send out an email containing information on the Division’s upcoming activities and deadlines. On a quarterly basis, your DR will reach out for information and updates on new project implementations, disaster assistance, and activities related to your Affiliate. Don’t leave your DR hanging—make sure he or she is fully informed about your programming, membership recruitment, and projects, so she can properly evaluate how to assist you with implementation and resources. You also might invite your DR to attend your Affiliate’s monthly meetings to learn more about the organization’s upcoming activities and events.

The relationship is a two-way street, so don’t be shy about reaching out to your DR regularly by phone or email to ask questions or to discuss ideas or issues affecting your Affiliate. The more you work with your DR, the more she can work with you. If you want your voice to be heard by the Division, your DR can help. When you have a question about the different programs, projects, initiatives, and services offered by the Division, ask your DR. If you want to join forces on a project with another Affiliate in your district but don’t know where to start, your DR can guide you. When you choose a Division program to implement within your Affiliate, your DR can help put you on the track to success. Do you see a pattern emerging? If not, try calling your DR.

Disaster Legal Services

When disaster strikes, DRs will mobilize and implement DLS programs within the district in cooperation with FEMA. The DLS programs are staffed by volunteer attorneys who provide free legal assistance to victims of these disasters. In addition to maintaining a list of volunteer attorneys who will respond in the event of an emergency, DRs must work closely with state and local bar associations to set up networks of resources and ensure DLS plans are in place before disaster strikes. You can assist your DR by identifying members of your Affiliate who are willing to volunteer and by coordinating with other district Affiliates to offer resources and infrastructure to support DLS programs. You also can contact ABA YLD DLS Director David Nguyen ( for more information on DLS and how your Affiliate can help.

The ABA YLD, through the Division’s DRs, is committed to communicating effectively with and providing helpful resources to Affiliates whenever possible. Please don’t hesitate to reach out to your DR (and, in turn, please try to respond to your DR’s requests) to help the Division partner effectively with your Affiliate.


  • Don't Forget

  • About The Affiliate

  • Stay Connected

  • Reprints & Back Issues

  • For More Information

  • Contact Us