by Jenifer L. Tomchak
Young attorneys often overlook the benefits of being involved in professional organizations. With so much time spent learning your new practice, it is easy to forget the importance of developing professional relationships that will help your future practice. Professional organizations create opportunities for lawyers to network with, get advice from, and commiserate with other practitioners. But these organizations also provide a forum for young attorneys to establish their reputations amongst a large group of potential referral sources. Professional organizations also often organize community service and legal education events. These events help improve the reputation of attorneys in the community, give young lawyers an opportunity to use and develop their legal skills, and, perhaps most importantly, remind us of the importance of our profession.
With these benefits in mind, I would like to invite lawyers (young and old) to take advantage of Young Lawyer’s Division’s monthly service, mentoring, and educational opportunities. Our Board has been working hard to develop new programs and build on existing programs to provide valuable professional development opportunities to its members.
Green Utah Pledge: YLD will encourage firms and practitioners to adopt environmentally friendly practices. Those who agree to meet the requirements to participate in the American Bar Association-Environmental Protection Agency Law Office Climate Challenge will become signatories of the Green Utah Pledge and receive recognition and other membership benefits. The Utah State Bar has already started to lead the way by agreeing to replace 10% of its electricity usage with renewable wind power!
Member Challenge: Members who attend events or complete specific tasks will receive raffle tickets, which they can use to win an iPad or at least two free weeks of Lexis time, both of which were donated by Lexis.
Practice in a Flash CLE Training Series: A series of CLEs focused on the nuts and bolts of developing a practice and teaching the basic principles of different areas of the law. The CLE Committee hopes to provide participants with a flash drive containing standard forms gathered from other practitioners.
Civic Education: The Governmental Relations Committee is developing a handbook for high school students, which will explain basic civics concepts and how to participate in the political process.
Choose Law: Through partnerships with several local high schools, volunteer attorneys educate high school students from at-risk backgrounds about the legal profession and the importance of law in society.
Disaster Response: YLD is working with the Utah State Bar’s Disaster Legal Response Committee to recruit volunteers trained to respond to legal issues after a disaster.
New Lawyer Training Program Mentoring Social and Open Division Night: Participants in the NLTP Mentoring Program will attend a reception where mentees will have an opportunity to socialize with their mentors, to meet other mentors in different practice areas, and to learn about the various divisions of the Utah State Bar.
Help R.I.S.E.: A program through which volunteer attorneys will provide pro bono legal representation to participants in R.I.S.E. (Reentry Independent through Sustainable Efforts), the federal re-entry drug and mental health court. Through the implementation of this program, under-employed attorneys will gain valuable legal experience under the supervision of an experienced mentor. The YLD, in collaboration with the Utah Federal Bar Association, will recruit mentors and provide a free CLE-training to the volunteers.
Community Service Events
And Justice for All Phone-a-thon: YLD volunteers approach members of the Utah State Bar to raise $5000 for And Justice for All. Each member of the YLD who donates is recognized as a member of the Justice League in the Utah Bar Journal.
Cinderella Project: YLD, working with Henries Dry Cleaners and Women Lawyers of Utah, collects gently worn formals and accessories to offer at boutiques to help underprivileged high school students attend their proms and homecoming dances.
Professional Clothing Drive: An annual clothing drive, where YLD collects professional clothing for the Junior League Community Closet and the Road Home to use in their job-training programs.
Serving Our Seniors: Quarterly clinics where volunteer attorneys and paralegals provide estate planning services to low-income seniors. Serving Our Seniors is also exploring the possibility of recruiting volunteers to act as payees for social security recipients who need help budgeting and controlling their money.
Tuesday Night Bar: Since October 1988, the YLD has provided pro bono in-person legal consultation to members of the underserved populations in the Salt Lake City area. During the first four Tuesdays of each month, rotating groups of attorneys from the Attorney General’s Office, Durham Jones & Pinegar, Fabian & Clendenin, Holland & Hart, Kirton & McConkie, Parr Brown Gee & Loveless, Parsons Behle & Latimer, Snell & Wilmer, Stoel Rives, and the YLD Executive Council – in addition to other attorneys who generously donate their time – provide pro bono legal consultation to low-income Utahns. This program was recently recognized by the American Bar Association.
Walk Against Violence: An annual, community-wide, 5k run and 1k high-heel challenge to raise awareness about domestic violence. All proceeds benefit the YWCA.
Wednesday Night Bar: Similar to Tuesday Night Bar, Wednesday Night Bar provides pro bono legal consultation to Spanish-speaking low-income Utahns.
Wills for Heroes: One of YLD’s premiere events, the Wills For Heroes Committee recruits volunteer attorneys and paralegals to hold semi-monthly clinics providing estate planning services to first responders throughout Utah.
Mentoring and Social Events
Bar Sharks for Justice: A pool tournament held at Lumpys each October. All proceeds benefit And Justice For All.
Inter-Professional Networking Events: Each year, YLD organizes events for young lawyers to network with other young professional groups in the community. This year YLD is planning a networking event with young accounting professionals and young finance professionals. YLD also hopes to join the Association of Corporate Counsel again to organize a community service project benefiting children in state custody.
Mentoring Marathon: In collaboration with the Utah Minority Bar Association, each January, YLD hosts an event for law students where students learn what it’s like to practice law and valuable interviewing skills. The students also receive personalized feedback about their resumes.
Speed Networking Events: YLD hosts two events each year, during which young lawyers have an opportunity to network with a wide variety of experienced practitioners and judges.
Utah State Bar Convention Family Carnival: At the Utah State Bar’s Annual Convention in Sun Valley, Idaho, the YLD runs a family carnival with games, face painting, and other activities for family to enjoy.
Young Lawyer Mentoring Socials: YLD is planning several events for young lawyers to network with each other. We have currently planned an opening picnic at Liberty Park, a reception at the spring bar convention, and a social at Squatters.
Community and Legal Education Events
YLD High School Debate Tournament: YLD sponsors the Young Lawyers High School Debate Tournament at Highland High School. The tournament brings together hundreds of Utah high school students for two days of team debate and speech events.
Law Day Luncheon and 5k: On May 1 of each year, the Utah State Bar and the American Bar Association celebrate Law Day. As part of Utah’s annual recognition of Law Day, the YLD organizes a Law Day Luncheon, which highlights law-related activities taking place in our schools and community, and a 5k race to benefit And Justice for All.
Governmental Relations: Utah YLD members participate on the Utah State Bar Governmental Relations Committee to analyze proposed legislation during each Legislative Session and determine whether it would affect YLD members.
Transition to Practice of Law Panel: YLD organizes a panel to present to local law schools about the transition to the practice of law.
As you can see, there are many ways to get involved. If you are interested in joining a committee or participating in YLD events, please contact me or one of the Board Members listed on the next page. You can also follow us on Facebook, Twitter, Google+, and our website, www.utahbar.org/sections/yld/ .
Regardless of which organizations you participate in, the most important thing is to get involved. I hope you will choose to do so and that your experience will be professionally and personally rewarding.