June 2012 Bar Bulletin
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June 2012 Bar Bulletin

YLD: Steering Young Lawyers along a Positive Path

By David Keenan

 

The mission of the King County Bar Association Young Lawyers Division is to further the objectives of young and aspiring lawyers by representing the diverse interests of the YLD's members within the KCBA and the legal community, creating opportunities for continuing legal education, mentoring and networking, and addressing the needs of the community through pro bono and volunteer service.

The services and camaraderie that the YLD provides have become all the more critical in the last three years, a period during which entry-level attorney positions evaporated while student loan debt increased. Through­out, the KCBA YLD has been there for its members.

The YLD is governed by a board of young-lawyer trustees, as well as one non-lawyer member and representatives of the Seattle University and University of Washington law schools. Board members come from many backgrounds, often including lawyers from solo practices, firms, government agencies and in-house counsel, each with his or her own unique contribution and passion for the young-lawyer community. The board accomplishes its mission through several committees that provide valuable services to the legal community and beyond.

The Lawyer Services Committee organizes free, monthly, lunchtime CLE programs for young lawyers, which are focused primarily on broad topics that will equip new practitioners with the tools they need to succeed as they grow into their careers. With the severe shortage of attorney positions facing new graduates, one popular lunch-time CLE recently dealt with the perils and pitfalls of going into solo practice, where a capacity crowd gathered to consider whether to hang out their own shingles. Entering solo practice at any point in one's career would be daunting, but doing so straight out of law school with no experience would be that much more so. During these challenging times, the YLD provides support and encouragement to its members.

The Community Involvement Com­mit­tee provides young lawyers with opportunities for service to local residents in some areas of critical need. Recent events have included working with Food Lifeline, Habitat for Humanity and the military families served by Fisher House. Also, this past April, we held the sixth annual KCBA YLD Fun Run & Walk to benefit pro bono services. In each case, these events allow young lawyers to build community relationships while serving as ambassadors for the legal profession.

The Social Events Committee is one that many young lawyers are already familiar with from the monthly happy hours it stages throughout the year. In addition to the great work of the committee on these events, the board holds meet-and-greets at both local law schools each year, providing students a chance to learn about KCBA and to get them thinking early about involvement, leadership and service to the bar. The monthly happy hours and meet-and-greets help our young lawyers network and share their challenges with one another as their careers develop.

Apart from the services, involvement and social aspects of the YLD, we are very excited to continue to offer our yearly, full-day Bridging the Gap CLE to young lawyers, which has included tremendous programs with judges and seasoned practitioners who kindly pass on their knowledge to the future of our profession. In addition, this past year the board began work with Judge Mary Yu on a walk-in clinic at the King County Law Library where members of the public can meet with volunteer attorneys concerning legal questions they may have.

As young lawyers continue to face the enormous challenges of entering a rapidly changing profession with fewer opportunities for those new to practice, the YLD is here for its members, the profession and the community. We have an excellent group of continuing and new trustees in the coming year, and we are extraordinarily grateful for the service of trustees completing their service this year: Chair Larry Ward and trustees Rachel Tallon Reynolds, John Schochet and Megan Starks.

David Keenan is the vice chair of the YLD and managing associate with Orrick Herrington & Sutcliffe LLP in Seattle.

 

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