July 2014 - Serving as a YLD Leader: Individual Commitment to a Group Effort

by Sarah J. Nowels

Earlier this year, our OCBA President, Thomas H. Bienert, Jr., quoted the great Vince Lombardi who said, “Individual commitment to a group effort—that is what makes a team work, a company work, a society work, a civilization work.” In the OCBA Young Lawyers Division (YLD), this “individual commitment to a group effort” is the catalyst for the YLD making an important difference for new attorneys who will ultimately shape the future of our profession.

In the YLD, newly-barred attorneys up to their fifth year of practice can come together to learn, grow professionally and personally, build lifelong relationships, and also give back to the community. In my case, the YLD has been essential to my professional and personal growth. Just after taking my own oath, I joined the YLD. I was welcomed with open arms onto committees and onto the Bad News Bearristers softball team, where I met attorneys who had experienced many of the same issues I faced. The attorneys of the YLD also introduced me to more experienced attorneys and judges who offered invaluable advice on a range of issues from tips for motions, hearings, and research to handling student loans and balancing work and personal life. This has made an important difference that will help me to be the best attorney that I can be. I attribute this to the commitment of individual attorneys in the YLD who help lead new attorneys to success in Orange County.

The OCBA Young Lawyers Division
The commitment of individuals in the YLD is making a difference. Already this year, the YLD has hosted several sold-out events where new lawyers came together to learn and grow.

The success of this division would not be possible without its strong leadership team. I, as this year’s YLD Chair, have the privilege to serve with an outstanding leadership team that is made up of the Chair-Elect, Jesse Bolling, and the Committee Chairs, Sheila-Marie Finkelstein, Michelle Philo, Colin Hendricks, and Tara Simon. The Committee Chairs are tasked with planning quarterly committee events.

The Education Committee is chaired by Sheila-Marie Finkelstein, who is a solo general practitioner whose work has included serving as in-house counsel for a regional community hospital. Ms. Finkelstein also serves on the Orange County Jewish Bar Association (OCJBA) Executive Board as the youngest member elected to date, and is a Leadership Fellow with the Anti-Defamation League. Ms. Finkelstein dedicates her time with the YLD to plan quarterly MCLE presentations. These presentations are a fundamental benefit of YLD membership and an opportunity for young lawyers to learn from prominent members of the community. Already this year, Ms. Finkelstein planned a substance abuse seminar called “Pharmageddon” and “Practicing in the Orange County Superior Court” with the CEO, Clerk of the Court, and Jury Commissioner of the Orange County Superior Court, Alan Carlson. In addition, the Education Committee plans to hold two more MCLE events later this year.

Michelle A. Philo, an associate at Kring & Chung, LLP, chairs the Social Committee. Ms. Philo practices business litigation, corporate transactions, and estate planning. In addition to her involvement in the YLD, Ms. Philo is a Director for Orange County Women Lawyers Association, President of the Whittier Law School Alumni Association, and was appointed by the California State Bar to the American Bar Association’s House of Delegates. Because of her experience, selecting Ms. Philo as the Social Chair was an easy choice. She believes the relationships built through social networking as young lawyers develop into professional referral sources. She also believes young lawyers tend to more freely engage in conversations regarding professional opportunities when they are in casual settings. In addition to planning happy hour mixers, Michelle and her committee planned the YLD Day at the Races in Del Mar and are busy with plans for the annual holiday party.

Athletics & Health
Colin A. Hendricks of Stradling Yocca Carlson & Rauth’s Public Law Litigation Department chairs the committee tasked with helping young lawyers stay active and healthy despite having jobs requiring long hours at a desk. As such, Mr. Hendricks manages the Bad News Barristers softball team, where a sense of humor is mandatory, but talent is optional. Mr. Hendricks also spearheaded starting the new YLD indoor soccer team, Motion to Strike. The teams offer members of all skill levels the opportunity to be active and socialize with other young lawyers on a weekly basis. In addition to the two teams, the committee planned a golf lesson at Oak Creek and is planning an evening at the Los Angeles Angels game in the fall. Mr. Hendricks also serves as the Chair of the Orange County Chapter of the Pacific McGeorge Alumni Association.

Community Outreach
Tara M. Simon, an associate in the Irvine office of Salamirad, Morrow, Timpane & Dunn LLP, is the YLD Community Outreach Chair. Ms. Simon’s practice focuses on surety and construction litigation. Ms. Simon is passionate about giving back to the community and helps other YLD members find opportunities to give back. As lawyers, we have a responsibility to contribute to society in a meaningful way. Already this year Ms. Simon successfully led a group of YLD members as volunteers at Orangewood Children’s Foundation’s Athletes First Classic and, in partnership with the OCBA Community Outreach Committee, organized a group of volunteers to assist in the Irvine Animal Care Center’s Super Pet Adoption Event. Ms. Simon and her committee are busy planning additional opportunities for YLD members to give back throughout the year.

The Future of the Organization
Jesse K. Bolling, an associate at Greenberg Gross LLP, will assume leadership for this organization in 2015. Mr. Bolling’s practice focuses on litigation, with an emphasis on contractual disputes, class actions, white-collar defense, and intellectual property. Mr. Bolling also serves on the Executive Committee of the Public Law Center’s Young Professionals Group. As Chair-Elect, Mr. Bolling is dedicated to making YLD a place for all young lawyers to come together.

As this organization grows over the years, the benefits for members increase. The group of experienced successful attorneys who attribute a portion of who they are today to the OCBA YLD are a diverse community of individuals dedicated to the betterment of the team, the community, and society. This is largely due to individual commitment to our group effort. I am grateful and honored to be a part of this amazing organization and look forward to its continued success.

Sarah J. Nowels is the 2014 Chair of the OCBA Young Lawyers Division and a litigation partner at Amezcua-Moll & Associates, P.C. focusing on employment, business, and real estate litigation. Ms. Nowels also serves on the board of directors for the Orange County Women Lawyers. She can be reached at sarah@amalaw.net.