Virtual platforms can present opportunities not available in person.
By Christopher Walker • JBA Young Lawyers Section
The Florida Bar, the rules of professionalism, and local bar organizations instill upon lawyers the notion of community involvement.
The endless opportunities include membership in bar organizations, participation in legal aid organizations, independent pro bono work and so much more.
Many young lawyers hesitate to become involved for myriad reasons—they recently graduated law school and are acclimating to a new work life; they must balance work and personal or family lives; or perhaps they just aren’t comfortable branching out and attending organization meetings on their own.
Speaking from experience, some young lawyers often tell themselves that once they are “comfortable” in their new job roles, they will become more involved in the community. Others need pressure from peers and bosses to motivate them.
The reality is many lawyers hesitate to become involved with local organizations because they fear the time commitment from attending events will detract from the limited time they have to balance work and other nonwork activities.
Others may suffer from a paralysis of indecision from not knowing which organizations they should join based on their interests and passions.
Even though it may seem ironic given the current circumstances, there is no time like the present to become more involved in local organizations.
Given the virtual world we now live in, attending local organization events has never been easier and less time-consuming.
Most meetings are conducted virtually, so lawyers can attend remotely from any location.
We can no longer use the supposed burden of traveling across town (or even a few blocks for some) to attend an in-person meeting as an excuse for not becoming more involved.
With the option to attend most meetings virtually, lawyers can learn about various organizations without leaving their homes.
For some, the fear of being the stranger in the room or having to network with new, unfamiliar faces is greatly reduced in the virtual setting.
That provides the opportunity to evaluate which organizations fulfill one’s interests without the added stress of feeling like an outsider at an in-person meeting.
Of course, much of the benefit to joining these organizations is the ability to network with other lawyers in Jacksonville.
While the virtual platform may limit personal interaction with all attendees of the events, Jacksonville lawyers are always friendly and willing to provide contact information to stay in touch.
It is easy to follow up with new virtual acquaintances with a phone call or a virtual coffee break—additional networking for which you do not need to leave the comfort of your home.
The Jacksonville Bar Association’s “Noon in June in July” event represented the ability of lawyers to successfully learn about organizations and become involved in the community through virtual means.
The panelists, prominent local practitioners, legal aid organizations, the city’s general counsel, state and federal judges, provided insight into the opportunities for involvement in the community.
Each panelist was willing to connect with event participants to network or discuss other ways to serve the community or develop a practice of law.
Some lawyers may be on the verge of burnout from the use of video platforms, but power through the fatigue and carve out an additional hour or two to explore local organizations.
Use this tumultuous time to find one local organization to become involved in and begin networking.
When in-person events resume, one will have a greater familiarity with the organization, its goals, and its members, inspiring greater personal involvement in the community by all.
Christopher Walker is an attorney at Akerman LLP focusing on consumer finance law.