Or maybe that should be a stereotypical “hey y’all” [dodgy American accent] given that the most recent Junior Lawyers Division national meeting was attended by representatives of the American Bar Association (“ABA”). The meeting itself was held on Saturday 12th November 2011 at Chancery Lane, London.
The “General Practice, Solo and Small Firm Division” of ABA gave an overview of the Association, which included its structure, scope of work and the extent of its presence globally. With around 400,000 members across the world, ABA proudly marks itself as the largest voluntary professional association in the world.
In terms of the scope of its work, ABA tackles a broad range of legal issues. One example that was given at the meeting was the problem of people trafficking in certain areas of the USA, which the General Practice and Solo and Small Firm Division are currently reviewing.
With its global membership and close links to the UK, you might consider enrolling as a member (doing so could involve attending international conferences, such as the upcoming events in Anchorage and Las Vegas which are on the agenda for next year). All details can be found on ABA’s website: http://www.americanbar.org/utility/about_the_aba.html
After the talk from ABA, Julian Young of Julian Young & Co, provided some rather interesting training exercises on lateral thinking which fans of the UK (and subsequently US) TV program “Whose Line is it Anyway?” would no doubt recognise. The exercises ranged from only being able to have a conversation using questions through to trying to sell a gas-powered nose picker and salt & pepper shakers with no holes, on a well-known shopping TV channel (don’t even ask).
On a serious note, Julian’s session did highlight how, particularly as legal professionals, it can be quite difficult but nonetheless quite a valuable skill to think on one’s feet laterally and approach an issue from a completely unique perspective.
The JLD Executive Committee then gave their update. This included the results of the recent election (which saw Hekim Hannan appointed as the new JLD chair). Recent events such as the JLD essay writing competition and the NQ forum in Liverpool were also mentioned. One point that I found interesting was the recent conference in Europe which the JLD Executive Committee attended. Here, Alternative Business Structures were discussed (and apparently received a frosty reception) with various European representatives of the legal profession.
The final point on the agenda was to discuss various legal training courses and how useful these were in practice. My group discussed the PSC and decided that, as relevant as the course material was on the whole, the key area for improvement would be to have more interaction and practical application of the principles considered. For example, the topic of “ethics” which typically lasts two days could be converted so that in day 1 the core principles and issues are discussed and on day 2 these are put into practice with, for example, real-life clients (played by actors) in scenarios that have an “ethics-related” dimension.
As ever, please feel free to leave your comments on the above or anything you want to discuss as affecting junior legal professionals today.