Bar News - January 13, 2012
New Lawyers Column: Find an Organization to Support: It’s Never to Soon to Get Involved
By: Elizabeth Lahey
Most new lawyers rightfully devote their time and attention to the daily tasks of managing partner and client expectations, producing quality work, billing hours, or in some cases, establishing their own practice. Nevertheless, at one point or another, everyone has been advised to fill their plate a little more by becoming involved in a community or legal organization. The natural reaction to this advice may be to say "I’ll get involved when I am more settled in my practice or career," or simply "I’ll do it later." However, whether you work at a large law firm, in the public sector, or just hung out your own shingle, the importance of getting involved in the legal and greater community is significant and it is important to do it now.
Where to Get Involved
Below is a list of legal organizations that can help new lawyers get started. There are countless other ways to get involved, either in the legal or non-legal community. The key to successful participation in any organization is to choose something that you are interested in and that is a good fit for you.
1. New Hampshire Bar Association
The New Hampshire Bar Association has many boards, committees, task forces and practice-area sections in which you can become involved. To learn more, visit the Bar’s website.
2. County and Local Bar Associations
Your local and county bar associations are also great resources for getting involved with in the legal community, especially at a more local level. Find a listing of bars in your area.
3. Women’s Bar Association
For female attorneys, the NH Women’s Bar Association has many networking events, educational programs, and discussions of issues related to women in the profession. Information is available at nhwba.org.
4. American Bar Association, Young Lawyer’s Division
Information regarding the Young Lawyer’s Division and other affiliate organizations and programs is available at americanbar.org.
5. Inns of Court
Information on membership is available at wbaic.org.
The process of networking may seem daunting. Most have experienced the familiar anxiety of walking into a room full of people, all of whom already seem to know each other. When met with this situation, it is easy to stand there asking yourself, "where do I start?" Who do I talk to? What do I say?
Participating in legal and non-legal organizations provides new lawyers the opportunity for meaningful networking. New lawyers can learn basic networking skills, and how to comfortably and effectively communicate with their peers. Networking is also an integral step in building contacts and connections with other lawyers and members of the community. Involvement in an organization provides a manageable starting point for building these relationships. By making it a point to meet one new person at each meeting or event, new lawyers can quickly develop a substantial contact base. Regardless of where and what you practice, a solid contact base is essential to developing your practice and legal career.
Build Name Recognition and Credibility
Beyond providing the opportunity to simply meet people, joining an organization also provides new lawyers with the opportunity to impress them. Once you have found an organization that you are interested in and passionate about, it is important to take your involvement a step further by volunteering for leadership roles and positions. Doing so will enable you to showcase your abilities, and show others you are dependable and produce quality work. This is an important and essential step in developing your reputation among your peers within the legal and non-legal community.
Develop Knowledge and Skills
As your career progresses, you will start developing a niche or specialized practice area. To start further developing your practice in this area, you will want to learn everything you can about that area of law. One way to achieve this end is to join boards, committees, and trade or business organizations that focus on your targeted area. Involvement in these types of organization will help you make a name for yourself within the organization and beyond. The goal is for people to associate your name with your desired practice area. If others associate you with a specific area of law, they are more likely to hire you or refer potential clients to you.