For many lawyers, public speaking is a key skill and a difficult one. It can be difficult for us to get a lot of time in the courtroom to practice and perfect our skills. But there are wonderful forms of service that include great public speaking opportunities.
A few years ago, I became a member of the Maryland Scholars Speakers Bureau. The commitment is minimal– just speak to a couple of middle and high school classes throughout Maryland. They need volunteers to send the message that a college education is achievable and important– and young lawyers are well positioned to deliver that message.
I spent my sessions talking to high school students around Baltimore County. It was fascinating for me to hear about the new challenges and opportunities students have today. In some of the classes I went to, many of the students had not considered college; in others, they were curious about the top schools, graduate programs and what happens after college. The great thing about the Maryland Scholars Speakers Bureau is that they train you to answer questions and give you the materials to alter your presentation depending on the students who are hearing your presentation.
Topics such as what to study, financial aid options, salary differentials, among others, guide the conversation. The goal is to have students plan from the time they enter high school to attend college and for them to be able to identify the tools their school and community have to help them meet that goal. The speeches have a lot of basic information about the types of classes required for college admission but also the importance of talking to counselors, parents and even community groups and nonprofits to help make college approachable.
Every young lawyer attended college at some point, and we all could probably point to things we wish we had known at the time we made important college decisions. So think about signing up to be a speaker — and help students across Maryland understand the value of a college education while perfecting your own public speaking skills.