July 2011 - The Young Lawyers Division
by Mac Cabal
The worst financial crisis in modern history and the most virulent global financial crisis ever. These were the words used by Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke and his predecessor, Alan Greenspan, to describe the “great recession.” According to the National Bureau of Economic Research, the great recession ended in June 2009. However, as most lawyers can attest, especially young lawyers, the great recession was truly a watershed event that inexorably changed the face of the legal landscape.
The sad truth is that young lawyers bore the brunt of that economic tsunami. Many young lawyers, saddled with five- and six-figure law school debt loads, were unable to find work, were relegated to contract work, worked at salaries well below their aspirations, or were simply pushed out of the profession by forces largely out of their control.
Nonetheless, as stated by Friedrich Nietzsche, “that which does not kill us makes us stronger.” It appears that the economy is improving, albeit anemically. And while the legal climate remains tenuous, young lawyers are poised to make a comeback. For these reasons, the Young Lawyers Division (YLD) provides a needed respite from the harsh realities of a difficult legal environment by offering its members the opportunity to network, grow professionally, and advance their careers. It has been an honor and a privilege to be a part of such a tremendous organization—an organization that helps young lawyers at a most critical time in their careers.
YLD is open to all lawyers in their first four years of practice. The organization consists of the Chair, the Chair-Elect, the Committee Chairs, and the individual members. The organization promotes volunteerism, educational development, social interaction, and sports involvement.
The backbone of the organization lies with the Committee Chairs. The Committee Chairs consist of Community Outreach, Education, Social, and Sports. Lynn Wallace is Chair of the Community Outreach Committee. She works at the Social Security Administration. William O’Neill chairs the Education Committee. Mr. O’Neill is an associate with Haynes and Boone, LLP. Lauren Friedman is the Social Chair. She is an associate with Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher. Robert Tennant manages the Sports Committee. Mr. Tennant is In-House Counsel for Veros Credit in Santa Ana. The Committee Chairs are tasked with managing the various committee members and planning the yearly committee events. The Chair-Elect is Van Ha. Ms. Ha is part of the Advocacy Law Center. Ms. Ha will take over the reins of the organization next year.
YLD prides itself on giving back to the community. As lawyers, we have a responsibility to contribute to society in a meaningful way, whether by providing legal services to those less fortunate or simply volunteering our time for a worthy cause. This year, under the tutelage of Lynn Wallace, the Community Outreach Chair, YLD members “got their hands dirty” and planted trees to be donated to schools and other public spaces throughout Orange County. For the balance of the year, the Community Outreach Committee plans on sponsoring events including habitat restoration at the Back Bay and packing food boxes for the Orange County Food Bank, among other things. I encourage all YLD members to make a difference in the community by contributing their time.
A fundamental benefit of YLD membership is the opportunity to receive MCLE credits, learn from prominent attorneys, and interact with members of the judiciary. This year, under the guidance of Will O’Neill, YLD organized a seminar where members learned from seasoned attorneys on how to handle depositions. YLD also offered its members the opportunity to have lunch with Superior Court Complex Civil Judges who provided judicial observations meant to help young lawyers make appearances, argue law and motion, and try cases. The Education Committee also plans on hosting two more events this year including a bankruptcy seminar.
It goes without saying that YLD members know how to have a good time. Our motto is work hard, play hard. With this in mind, Lauren Friedman organized the year’s first social event at Muldoon’s Irish Pub in Newport Beach, where members networked while enjoying a few “beverages.” The committee also plans on hosting a wine tasting event, a day at Disney’s exclusive Club 33, and the annual Holiday Party. I encourage all YLD members to participate in the social events, which provide inval- uable networking opportunities.
This committee organizes sports-themed events throughout the year such as “A Day at The Del Mar Race Track,” where members can watch world-class horse racing and test their luck at the track while also enjoying an evening concert. This year, members can stay fit and help a great cause in a walk for charity. The crown jewel of the Sports Committee is the Bad News Bearristers softball team, where a sense of humor is mandatory, but talent is optional. The team offers members of all skill levels the opportunity play softball throughout the year and is managed by Mr. Tennant.
State of the Organization
Despite the turmoil caused by the great recession, I am pleased to report that due to the collective efforts of individual members, the Committee Chairs, the Chair-Elect, and the Chair, YLD membership increased six percent from January 2010 to January 2011. YLD stands at 537 members strong. While the legal environment remains difficult, YLD stands firm and remains committed to the advancement of its members and the legal community as a whole. On that basis, I remain grateful and honored to be a part of this amazing organization, and look forward to its continued success.
Mr. Cabal is the 2011 Chair of the Young Lawyers Division and a civil litigation associate with Lanak & Hanna, P.C. focusing primarily on construction, commercial collections, and health care law.