Young professionals have a lot on their mind today, not least of which is surviving in the world of our chosen career endeavor. We are constantly conscious of our social adaptability and the overall ability to fit in. With the growing reliance and integration of technology, we no longer have the comfort of hiding behind solid walls. We are all connected, and how we portray ourselves in the greater universe is, at the end of the day, all we have. Our reputation is our most valuable asset, and it is the currency of the future.
In our world today, people can and do look us up at a moment’s notice and find everything they want to know about us while standing on a sidewalk through the array of mobile devices that are available at our fingertips. Our digital persona is as influential to our reputation as our actual personality. The importance of gaining a foothold on our reputation is of vital importance for the sake of our future career. Factors like trust, reliability, and expertise are our tools whether we are seeking to obtain clients or advance in our practice setting.
So how do we stay on top the game? For one, creating professional relationships is a must, and participating in trade associations allows us to build a sense of security and trust. It is also critical to understand emerging (and diminishing!) trends – both in the global society and in the legal profession. Engagement in specifically legal associations provides access to the up and coming issues facing the profession and offers the ability to stay on the forefront of the ever changing world.
The American Bar Association (ABA) is one of the largest legal associations in the world. With over 400,000 members and over 3,500 substantive entities, active engagement puts us in the forefront of not just the legal profession, but you as a professional. For young lawyers, the ABA offers the opportunity to participate in the Young Lawyers Division, which alone holds close to 135,000 registered members consisting of lawyers under the age of 36 or in practice for 5 years or less, both in the US and across the world. Through their participation and service, these lawyers are able to help shape policy, develop and lead in public service endeavors, publish and educate the community, and work with top legal professionals and experts in the world. All of these endeavors are the building blocks of trust, reliability, and expertise that add up to a solid reputation. This in turn allows these young lawyers to not just have a seat at the table, but buying power to close the deal on their growing career.
Involvement in professional associations, such as the ABA, helps build our own personal brand – our reputation. That is what we are selling to the world every time we step out both the figurative and literal door. So let’s take charge of our greatest asset. Show up, engage, participate, follow through, and stay actively involved in everything that you do. It’s a brave new world, but we have the tools to not only survive, but excel. Now let’s go and show them what we’re made of!
Partner at Stark & D’Ambrosio, LLP in San Diego, CA and the Chair-Elect of the ABA YLD