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New lawyers find strength in numbers

By Emily Aldrich and Alex Calero
California Young Lawyers Association (CYLA)

With 49,936 attorney members, the California Young Lawyers Association (CYLA) represents one of the largest groups in the State Bar of California.

We tackle the issues that face young lawyers today as they transition from law school into legal practice. CYLA endeavors to assist new lawyers in their professional and leadership advancement, while supporting the State Bar’s charge to protect the public.

CYLA has a history of zealously advocating issues important to its members and the public before the Board of Trustees. We also offer new lawyers the best opportunity to get involved, encourage pro bono service and practical skills training by providing education and mentorship initiatives.

A little history about our group is in order. Originally named the State Bar's Conference of Barristers, CYLA was created in 1965 by the Board of Trustees. You don’t have to be young to be part of CYLA. If you’re 36 or younger or within your first five years of admission to the bar, you’re automatically a member.

CYLA participates in the Annual Meeting, which will take place this year from Sept. 11 to 14 at the Grand Hyatt in San Diego. It’s not only fun, but a great opportunity for new lawyers to network with lawyers in their field of practice, fulfill their education requirements and learn about State Bar programs and resources.

We have a number of programs aimed at encouraging those who have never attended and others to come again:

■ At this year’s Annual Meeting, we’ll kick off our 10 Minute Mentor Program. It features an online collection of videos from leading lawyers in their area of expertise. Our goal is to provide practical information to young lawyers to support their service to the public.

The videos are foundational in nature and provide valuable information for attorneys new to the profession. They will be free, closed-captioned and posted on the CYLA web page in early 2015.

■  CYLA will also recognize notable pro bono service with its annual Jack Berman Award of Achievement. The award is named in memory of Jack Berman, a young lawyer who demonstrated outstanding service to the profession and the public, and who was tragically killed in a San Francisco shooting.

This year’s recipient, Aaron J. Fischer, will be honored for his work protecting the rights of vulnerable prisoners and of people with disabilities. Because of litigation that Fischer was a key player in, the courts ordered the removal of the most vulnerable prisoners from solitary confinement, reform of the state’s use-of-force policies and an end to the practice of isolating mentally ill prisoners in solitary confinement for non-disciplinary reasons.

Please join us at the Legal Services Awards Reception on Friday, Sept. 12 from 5 to 7 p.m. at the Grand Hyatt. RSVP online.

■  Can’t attend because of your finances? To help new lawyers attend the Annual Meeting, CYLA is offering two tuition scholarships. The scholarship pays for event registration fees and travel expenses up to $750.

Scholarships will be awarded based on financial need and a combination of: participation in pro bono or similar work, community service and/or bar association involvement, leadership activities or other unique contributions to the legal profession.

The scholarship application deadline is Sept. 5. To apply, email Laila Bartlett, CYLA staff coordinator at

You can also connect with CYLA and its members and find State Bar resources through Facebook and Twitter. We’re constantly updating and posting local events, pro bono opportunities and resources, and we invite all members of the State Bar to follow us on social media. Sign up and stay informed!

Alex Calero is the chairman, and Emily Aldrich is the vice chairwoman and incoming chairwoman of CYLA.