I have written a number of blogs over the last few years about my adventures at ABA and MSBA conferences and about the importance of getting involved in various bar associations. I’m writing this Monday from a hotel in Austin, Texas, where I’m attending the American Association for Justice Winter Convention. I was hesitant at first because this is a new organization for me and the sheer size of the conference seemed daunting. But a few hours in, after seeing some familiar Maryland faces, and having met new like-minded lawyers, I was glad I came.
Although I enjoy the wide range of topics covered by the CLEs, lectures and networking events offered by the ABA, MSBA and Bar Association of Baltimore City, I am excited to be with my own kind at this conference — that is, members of the private plaintiffs bar. This is a relatively new experience for me because the majority of my extra-curricular bar involvement is in geographic or age-based groups. I noticed I introduced myself and my practice area as “civil litigation” or “personal injury” to the first few people I met. One amused new acquaintance even said, “Yeah, I figured. That’s what we all do!”
I have no intention of ceasing or reducing my involvement in the other bar associations, but I am thoroughly relishing the ability to speak to other trial attorneys who have similar struggles in their practice. And the CLEs, ethics courses and discussions are a lot more focused to help me with my own cases.
So my advice to young lawyers today is: go out and join a bar association or other professional organization that helps you become a better advocate within your specific practice area. The geographically based bar associations are a great place to network and get to know judges and opposing counsel, but these practice-area based associations can do wonders for your legal skills.