On the eve of the annual meeting of the ABA House of Delegates, the Young Lawyers Division caucused to discuss resolutions that would be taken up by the policy-making body over the next two days. But the question of whether joining the ABA makes sense for young lawyers also came up.
Over the course of a 90-minute meeting, leaders of the division, which consists mainly of attorneys younger than 36, ran through a list of proposals that had recently been withdrawn from consideration--including a name change for the senior lawyers division and emergency care for animals. They also reviewed six “late” resolutions submitted in the past few days proposing ABA positions on health care reform and financial market regulation, among other things.
In wrapping up the meeting, the young lawyer leading the discussion mentioned that in a prior division meeting the group had discussed the impact that difficult economic conditions had been having on young lawyers. Hundreds of associates have been laid off by law firms in cost-cutting moves over the past year. There weren’t any resolutions on the issue, but the division could review the issue in the future, he said.
That struck a chord for one young Washington attorney in the caucus. He rarely heard from friends about ABA happenings, but in the past six months he’d heard from them a lot. They asked him in e-mails why they should remain ABA members when their firms stopped picking up the tab. What had the ABA done for them lately? He wondered if the ABA should be cutting back on travel spending and looking into the dues issue.
He was told by more senior members of the group that the ABA had sent millions of e-mails to market the association and that ABA leadership was studying the issue and had recently had a major conference call on the topic. He could also take up the issue with the ABA Board of Governors if he felt strongly about it, they said.
“We may be doing something, but we may not be doing enough,” was the closing remark of one young female lawyer.
In today's issue of our sister publication Connecticut Law Tribune, Elizabeth Acee, a Young Lawyers representative to the House of Delegates (and an attorney with LeClairRyan in New Haven) agreed that "there’s work to do” in reaching out to young lawyers. She also noted that some young lawyers who wanted to attend the annual meeting were worried that they couldn't afford hotels in Chicago.