This article was originally published in The Barrister, the official monthly publication of the Camden County Bar Association for which DeMichele & DeMichele attorney MATT ROONEY serves as Young Lawyer Trustee.
Some days it felt like spring 2014 would never arrive, right? But the flowers are finally (and mercifully) blooming, the Phillies are (starting to) play baseball, and a brand new year is well-underway for young lawyers across South Jersey. I say “new year” so far removed from January 1st because the spring season invariably brings about big changes for younger attorneys, changes which extend far beyond warmer weather, open beaches and increased daylight. We've all been there. Law school graduates are anxiously prepping to tackle the bar exam(s) by stocking up on note cards and energy drinks. Law clerks are hoping and praying that at least one of their 200 associate resume applications, drafted in between briefing motions, catches a managing partner's discriminating eye. Young attorneys lucky enough to be working in this perpetually-sluggish economy are billing their hearts out in order to hold on to those jobs and maybe, just maybe, break away for a brief summer vacation with their equally overworked and over-caffeinated friends. Sound familiar? Yet it's not all doom, gloom and pain. Far from it! Each life passage described above is exactly that: a series of necessary steps forward in a young professional's early career. Every lawyer digesting this article goes through the same thing more or less, and with the benefit of a few or many years under their belts, established bar members look back and recognize how those stressful times were actually vital opportunities to learn, grow, and develop into the practitioners we are today. That's only one of the many reasons why I'm excited and gratified in equal measure to take over as Young Lawyer Chairman for the Camden County Bar Association. Over the next year, we are once again presented with the opportunity (there's that word again!) to build upon the great work of my immediate predecessor Rachael Brekke as well as all of the other past Young Lawyer chairpersons who helped make the CCBA accessible to the next generation of bar leadership. It's a tall order but I'm confident that we can work together to continue moving the ball down the field with the goal of growing our community and aiding young attorneys as they integrate themselves into our county's robust legal community. Nothing could be more important, both for the attorneys themselves and the region at-large. Young lawyers struggling to get started often feel more isolated than anything else. It is far too easy to get caught up in current projects and cases and, in the process, forget about forging other key skills including but definitely not limited to networking instincts, an essential attribute for industrious lawyers seeking future referrals or lateral advancement. One of the many reasons why I love the Young Lawyers is how we provide members with a fun and pressure-free involvement to take that critical leap. We also provide our membership with a myriad of ways to help non-lawyers through charitable initiatives. The great American jurist Benjamin Cardozo once wrote that, “[m]embership in the bar is a privilege burdened with conditions.” I'll second that! As active members of the bar, Young Lawyers are determined to rise above society's stereotypes and act as ambassadors to the regional community on behalf of a profession dedicated to providing quality and affordable representation to everyone who needs it. Like I said… I'm excited about what we do and what lies in store for our membership in the coming year! I hope it's obvious. For those of you who have already been active with our organization I say both “thank you” and “let's talk about new ways for you to ply your unique talents to help us grow.” For those who aren't currently active but share my enthusiasm, then please know that this is your invitation to join our team at an upcoming networking happy hour, lunch meeting, outdoor picnic, charity barbeque, holiday party or any of the dozens of events on tap over the next several months. It's a new year full of new opportunities for Camden County Young Lawyers! I look forward to working with all of you as we seize upon them together.