The Indiana State Bar Association’s Young Lawyers Section has historically been the largest and most active of all the ISBA sections, and it is frequently referred to as the “service arm” of the ISBA. All ISBA members age 36 and under are eligible to become a member of the YLS, and I encourage eligible members to join this dynamic organization.
I have often been asked about the focus of the state bar’s YLS. If one were to take a look at the governing bylaws, the purpose of the YLS is set forth as follows:
[T]o stimulate the interest of new and young lawyers in the objectives of the Indiana State Bar Association (“ISBA”), to carry on activities which will be of assistance to new and young lawyers in the practice of law, and the citizens of this state, and to make reports and recommendations to the governing bodies of the ISBA.
This essentially means that our mission is to assist in the development of new and young lawyers. The activities and accomplishments of the YLS have certainly advanced this important purpose.
The YLS served the young, the old and the less fortunate with a multitude of service projects, which included the award-winning “Young Lawyers Serving Hoosier Seniors” community service joint projects with local law school students. Networking opportunities with judges from across the state were provided at the inaugural “Dinner with the Judiciary” events and the annual YLS-hosted Judicial Reception. The section also resurrected the state bar’s annual golf outing with a special emphasis on honoring past YLS leaders for their service.
With the incredible amount of participation from the YLS governing council and the entire membership, the YLS has even been recognized on the national level. Specifically, the American Bar Association awarded the Indiana YLS two national awards in the all-around comprehensive and the service project categories. The YLS also received recognition at the recent National Association of Bar Executives’ annual conference, where the YLS received the Luminary Award for Excellence in Publications for its “Legal Stuff (You should know!),” a publication that provides high school seniors with a basic understanding of various areas of law that may affect their lives.
The YLS council members spent countless number of volunteer hours organizing, marketing and attending events to benefit the public and lawyers, with a focus toward those that are young and/or new. Moreover, the YLS could not function as efficiently without the full backing of the state bar leadership, administration and staff. Without question, the ISBA leadership, including Past-President Jeff Lind and current President Erik Chickedantz, fully supported the activities of the YLS and even solicited input involving decisions made at the highest level of the ISBA.
As the immediate past chair, here are a few resonating thoughts in closing:
If you want to get involved in the YLS or the ISBA, simply contact the ISBA. The various YLS committees are not limited to Council members. If there is an interest, and you are willing, the YLS and the ISBA will find a spot for you to serve.
Never underestimate the power of networking. I have yet to meet an attorney that has not benefited from networking in some fashion. So get out and meet your colleagues and members of your community. It will come back to you in a positive manner.
The members of the judiciary in this state, from the trial court all the way to the Indiana Supreme Court, were once in your shoes. My experience is that they want to see young and new lawyers succeed, so don’t be afraid to reach out for guidance and advice.
If you have a passion in a certain area of the law, find a feasible way to pursue it. Take a risk if you have to. Do what you love, and it won’t feel like you are going to work, but rather your calling.
Be yourself and never forget where you came from. When that new or young lawyer comes to you 20 years from now for assistance, remember this message and take the time to provide direction.
Your current YLS Chair, Jason A. Cichowicz, was a big part of this past year’s YLS efforts and will provide this section with strong leadership into 2012. I see the level of involvement increasing during his term, and I’m absolutely confident in the continued success of this section. The YLS will dedicate itself to the steadfast commitment of providing opportunities and assistance to new lawyers in the practice of law. I am honored to have served the YLS, and with the continued participation, and the leadership that will follow, the future of this section is brilliant.•
Michael J. Jasaitis is an attorney with the Crown Point law firm Austgen Kuiper & Associates. He is immediate past chair of the ISBA Young Lawyers Section. The opinions expressed are those of the author.