Today is the day after the primary elections in Maryland. Winners will be celebrating and those who were defeated will hopefully make messages of unity and encouragement as we approach the general election in November. What these contested political races remind us of is how important our participation in government is to the future of our greater Maryland community.
As young lawyers, it is hard sometimes to keep up with political issues or be active in those that you care about. But engagement in local politics is a great way for young lawyers to be involved in their communities and make a good impression at their firms.
Remember: Not all political issues and discussions need be divisive. Bringing in organizations like the Maryland State Bar Association your local bar association to do a legislative summary for your law firm or organization can be a really helpful way to understand what areas of the law need expanding and what are important issues to pay attention to in a local election for your practice area. Issues in almost all areas of law are addressed by the General Assembly and it is important that you are educated about changes in the law. Specialty bar associations also do legislative updates and are happy to share those updates with your organizations.
Take this opportunity to read some legislative updates or, even better, develop one yourself so you can be on top of current issues. Education and dialogue is important for everyone — even those who don’t like the more divisive sides of politics.
Invite local politicians to speak at your firm or local bar associations. This is a fantastic way to educate yourself and your peers about the candidates and important political issues. Many political representatives are happy to meet with engaged groups of lawyers to answer questions and discuss their positions on important issues. This can be an important way to educate yourself about what issues are truly important to you and where your local representatives stand on those issues.
Volunteering with campaigns and causes can also be a wonderful way to engage in politics. While young lawyers don’t always have the money to make financial contributions with loan payments, new homes or growing families, volunteering for causes and individuals important to you can be a fantastic way to learn more about issues you care about. I can’t tell you how many times I have read a headline and felt one way about an issue and then changed my mind when I truly engaged in debate about the issue. Many people I know have met lifelong friends and even spouses on campaigns because of the intensity of the experience. It can be a wonderful way to influence change, network and engage in your community.
So while the primary season is over, the election season has just begun. Take this opportunity to think about what you can do to engage in your community and important issues to the legal community going forward. Make yourself the person who is educated about issues in your firm and in your community. While the world of politics has some intense differences, most people are focused on sharing perspectives to make our states, cities, counties and communities stronger. Being a young lawyer is a great opportunity to make yourself a part of the dialogue!