The kids (young lawyers) are all growing up….

Last week I noted lots of growth and change in my world, both at home and at work. It just appears to be the theme, at least this month.

Brian called last week, my 23 year old golf pro-in-waiting, to enthusiastically share with me that he now has both a dental plan and a 401K, with a matching contribution!! What a moment of pride for me to hear my son appreciate the value of both. Brian is growing up and moving into the next phase of his life as a young professional.

And as I learned later that day, so are our young lawyers. Last Thursday night, I joined a great group of our young lawyers, almost 60 of them, on the Mary Jemison for a sunset boat cruise on the Genesee. Also cruising with us were: Connie Walker, MCBA President; along with Amy Varel, Membership Chair, and Judge Frank Geraci, a Foundation Board member. Connie asked me at one point, “Do you know everyone?” To which I replied, “No. I know a third very well; a third somewhat well, and a third were brand new to me.” We both agreed this was great because it means that our current YLS leadership is fulfilling on a promise that they made to the MCBA which was to begin to “grow and groom” the next group of young lawyers…and they are doing just that.

Their collective sense of responsibility to ensure that what this small group of friends and colleagues started is not going to disappear just because they are reaching the point that some of them will be “graduating” from the young lawyers section. Instead they are recruiting, engaging and grooming the next generation of young lawyers to continue what they started more than 5 years ago now. Like my own children, I have watched this group of young bar leaders grow, and evolve over the years, and mature into a Section of leaders that we should all be very proud of. I know I am!

As we stood on the deck of the boat, I was talking with Carey Ann Denefrio, Penny Dentinger, Jenn Meldrum, and Tim Lyster, YLS Chair Extraordinaire, about what lies ahead for the soon to be YLS graduates. Do they simply begin to move toward more of our substantive sections, or do we create a new model that will meet the needs of this “Tween (Between) Generation”? As we talked, I shared with them this idea that had been rolling around in my head.

What if we were to create a “Tween Section” (the name can be negotiable)? Just stay with me on concept for the moment.

The Tween Section is about a group of lawyers that are now 8+ years (or 37 years old) in to their practice of law. Some of them may be on a partner track, some may be married and exploring the start of their family, some are focused on growing their book of business, or some may be exploring a professional change outside the practice of law, but all have one thing in common, they want work-life balance. And for many of our young leaders, they do not want to lose what they found in the YLS. They are concerned that their only next step is into the substantive sections, where they will be unknowns with no voice.

So on the deck of the boat, I had this impromptu focus group about what a Tween Section could possibly look like and this is what I heard. The Section could be about creating leadership training, about client development, about finding a mentor for themselves, and about being a mentor to the new young lawyers. They would want a continuation of their ability to be engaged in community service, and of course, in maintaining a social element to the section.

Their observation — when attorneys hit that 8+ year point, they believe our members are disappearing from an active bar life, and returning when they are 15+ years of practice, and they don’t want this to happen to them. They want a continuation of their bar life. So, we are looking for a solution. Also in on this conversation is Peter Glennon, though not on the boat, Peter and I have talked and he is also interested in exploring this new world. Peter is in fact a “Tweener” by definition, but more importantly, he is a dedicated MCBA Trustee, and Board Liaison to the YLS.

In a recent membership report I shared with the Trustees, we have some challenges in the years ahead as many of our Traditionalist and Boomer members begin to retire, they will be leaving the work of the bar world to the Generation X’ers, and the Millenials. We need to start now in beginning to grow and groom our next generations of members. Let me be clear — we already have many Tweeners out there doing great work, but we clearly need to grow this participation.

So what do you think? Are you a Tweener or a soon-to-be Tweener? Would you like to join some of your fellow Tweeners to talk about the possibilities? To imagine? To be a part of a solution? What would it take to make the MCBA more relevant for you! If so, please send me a message via this blog, an email at mloewenguth@mcba.org, or better yet, stop in. Come be a part of the conversation. And I promise, we can talk about a different name if Tweener does not do it for you!!

Thanks for checking in…MCL

To see photos from the Mary Jemison Cruise check out the Young Lawyers Section of the Monroe County Bar Association on Facebook.

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