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- 2014 - June - 30th -
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Michelle Barnett

Bar Bulletin: A great year leading YLS before becoming ‘old’ lawyer

By Michelle Barnett, JEA Board of Governors Member

I have just finished my year as Young Lawyers Section president.

Incoming YLS President Pat Kilbane remarked at our annual meeting that, before the crowd’s eyes, I would go from being a “Young” to an “Old” Lawyer as we passed the gavel.

In reflecting on that comment in the week following our annual meeting, it occurred to me that just in the past few months I have sprouted my first batch of gray hair; in expecting our third child have been advised that I am now of advanced maternal age and therefore require additional testing and surveillance; and was elected to the “Big Board” of Governors thus earning myself a seat at the adults’ table.

The good news is that, like a prisoner who is being transferred to a new prison and getting to reconnect with old cronies (no, I have never been to prison and do not practice criminal law but rather this analogy comes from watching too much “Orange is the New Black” — if you have not read it or watched the series it is a must read or watch), I’m finding myself getting to reconnect with lawyers who also used to be Young Lawyers and have been promoted in the ranks.

In doing so, I am reminded that every one of us was a young lawyer at some point in time, and we have a lot to learn from those still bearing the title.

Young lawyers tend to be involved. We, now they, participate in community activities, are active in sports leagues and have time to socialize. They are looking for their passion and trying to learn their trades.

Young lawyers are willing to take chances, risks and put themselves out there as they handle new cases and take on new challenges. Young lawyers are constantly learning, constantly asking and constantly evolving.

When I introduced Pat Kilbane at our annual meeting, I shared with the crowd that he had recently left the practice of family law, as a partner at a large law firm, and accepted a position as a financial planner at Ullman Financial.

Less than six months later, Pat has passed his various licensing exams, including his Series 7, and become a certified Divorce Financial Analyst. He has been recognized by the court and testified as an expert in this field.

This willingness to reinvent himself — to learn something new to complement his already extensive family law knowledge and to follow his passion — is what every one of us should strive to do, always. While Pat’s career change has been a bit more radical than most, what an example we have of a lawyer who chose to make a change, learn something new, build on his career as a lawyer, start to network with a new group, and put himself out there.

Not surprisingly, Pat’s goals for the YLS this year are to define or redefine the purpose of the section, carefully analyze our past, and if necessary, reinvent the future with new and different activities in order to keep his constituents engaged and excited.

He has already announced he will be hosting and organizing an inaugural poker tournament for The Jacksonville Bar Association. Be on the lookout for what is sure to be a phenomenal event. How’s that for innovation?

I have no doubt that Pat’s openness to change and reinvention in his professional life will carry over to his year as president and I am excited about the year ahead for the YLS.

In looking through my rear view mirror, I am proud of all that the YLS has accomplished this past year. We significantly raised the number of active young lawyers and our committee work was exceptionally successful.

Through the various fundraisers that we held throughout the year, we contributed in excess of $20,000 to charity all while having a good time, enjoying each other’s company and fostering collegiality within our profession.

While I will very much miss this group, I look forward to seeing all of you on the other side.

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