Toward the end of a calendar year, it is often one’s natural inclination to reflect on the past year and the events thereof.
And while it is cliché to offer thoughts on the past in the Bar Bulletin (and even saying it is cliché sounds cliché), as I sit down to write this article, I find myself reflecting not just on the past year, but on the past 18 months, which is the time I have served on the Young Lawyers Section Board of Governors.
And when I think back on this time, the strongest feeling I have is one of regret. I do not regret participating in the YLS, but actually quite the opposite. I regret not getting involved with the YLS sooner, given that my recent birthday means I am not long for the world of “young” lawyers.
I can truly say my decision to get involved with the YLS was one of the best I have made regarding my career as an attorney. My satisfaction with my professional life and career has increased exponentially since becoming active in YLS events and subsequently being elected to the board.
I feel more tied to the legal community and the attorneys who comprise it and I have certainly come to know more attorneys and have become friends with more of them, as a result.
In fact, I can vividly remember attending my first JBA monthly luncheon as a recently licensed attorney back in 2010 and how isolated I felt walking into the ballroom — I didn’t know anyone.
And, quite honestly, I had no one to blame but myself. How could I have expected to have any ties to an organization with which I did not actively engage?
After that first luncheon, I did not participate or volunteer for any YLS events until almost three years later. During that three-year span, I realize now I missed out on opportunities to not just serve the community, but to also make lasting friends and to connect with the profession at large.
In large part, that was because I was very intimidated. As I did not know any of the attorneys on the YLS board, I felt like there was some barrier to my participation.
I felt like the YLS was an exclusive “cool kids” only club, reserved for the most successful young associates at the biggest firms, and that, as a new attorney at a smaller firm, who had exactly zero professional accomplishments under my belt, no one wanted or needed my participation. Looking back on it, I realize how silly it was to feel that way and how wrong I was, and that is what fills me with regret.
If you have hesitated getting involved, this year alone you have missed opportunities to volunteer and/or participate in the inaugural Charity Poker Tournament, the Chili Cook-Off at the Riverside Arts Market site, an evening of dodgeball and kickball at the Laura Street Trio, the annual golf tournament at the Ponte Vedra golf club, Noon in June, the annual meeting party at Sweet Pete’s, and numerous (free) happy hours.
Do not let another year go by.
To any young attorneys who may have the same feelings I had when I was starting out, who have considered attending a happy hour, volunteering for one of the YLS’s worthwhile charity events or coming out for one of our other events, but did not do so because you felt you were not part of the clique, so to speak: Let me assure you, we want your participation and there is no reason to feel like an outsider or otherwise be intimidated.
I can promise you that if you do participate in any one of our many events, you will find friendly, welcoming young attorneys who want to get to know you. I know that I personally wish I would have realized that sooner than I did.