In a move that promises to invigorate the Massachusetts Bar Association's newer members, the Young Lawyers Section has been reorganized as the Young Lawyers Division, with more autonomy and high expectations.
The Young Lawyers Division is charged with integrating new lawyers into the profession, stimulating new lawyers' interest in the MBA's objectives and encouraging their participation in the division.
More specifically, Young Lawyers Division Chair Sanjay K. Sankaran, an associate counsel at Palma Law Offices PC in Lowell, said he and the officers are busy organizing and filling in committee and delegate slots that reflect diversity among geographic regions and practice types.
"The most important thing would be to make YLD relevant to young lawyers in Massachusetts, getting the word out to more young lawyers that this is something worth doing," Sankaran said.
The change follows the Sept. 20 vote by the House of Delegates approving the division's new bylaws and the Executive Management Board's approval. The vote establishes a governing structure that mirrors that of the MBA's House of Delegates, with a board made up of 12 directors-at-large and one director from each county (except Barnstable, Dukes and Nantucket, which constitute one seat) and the division's four officers.
The change has been one of MBA President Mark D Mason's priorities for the year. "Attorneys in practice for less than 10 years represent the future of the bar association," Mason said. "The Mass. Bar Association leadership is delighted that so many new lawyers have committed to the future of the Young Lawyers Division. With their energy and dedication, the Mass. Bar Association has a bright future indeed."
Mason, who served as president of the group from 1991-92, when it was previously a division, says he envisions the division appealing to new attorneys the way the previous YLD appealed to him.
"I joined the Mass. Bar Association in 1985 in order to become active in the Young Lawyers Division," Mason said. "I have complete respect for the importance of the MBA's YLD."
In addition to Sankaran, this year's officers are: Chair-elect Michael J. Duffy, Secretary Patricia R. Rich and Treasurer Elizabeth Ann Broderick. Sankaran said that while his expectations for the new division are high, he's also trying to be realistic about what can be done until the transition from a section council is made.
"We have a number of ideas," said Sankaran, who has an eye on involving the division in community service projects, among other initiatives.
The Young Lawyers Division is also considering seeking HOD support for a resolution supporting legislation on law school loan forgiveness.
"This would be the perfect start for YLD for legislative activity to help those burdened by the high cost of debt," he said. "I think this is an issue that's very relevant for a lot of young lawyers."
Sankaran said he is interested in making YLD more involved as a representative for the American Bar Association's Young Lawyers group.