We strongly believe in the idea of a community of lawyers. Whether attorneys end up on opposite sides of the courtroom working toward different goals, and whether they are working in a solo practice or at the largest firm in the city, we should all share the goals of advancing access to justice, helping to create a more effective and efficient justice system, and working toward continued excellence and learning in the profession. Moreover, we should work to create lasting relationships with fellow attorneys from all practice types, and in areas like government and legal services, in order to enrich our personal experience with the law and the profession. There is a reason why we refer to our colleagues as ‘sisters and brothers’ in the law.
At the BBA, we embrace this ideal fully by providing educational opportunities to our members in all practice areas and hosting large-scale events that bring practitioners together in a social context that allows them to forge new relationships in the broader legal network. Moreover, the BBA sponsor firm program automatically enrolls all of a sponsor firm’s attorneys as members of the BBA, ensuring that the community grows and that more attorneys are able to take advantage of what it has to offer.
This sense of community must start early in order to engage prospective and new lawyers while they are still exploring their career options and would most benefit from the guidance of more experienced attorneys. As such, it is extremely important to the BBA to bring law students fully into the legal community. For this reason, the BBA has forged valuable partnerships with area law schools and at this time is officially partnered with the five Boston law schools: Boston College Law School, Boston University School of Law, New England Law | Boston, Northeastern University School of Law, and Suffolk University School of Law. This automatically enrolls all of the students from each school as members of the BBA at no personal cost.
The benefits of these partnerships are manifold – and not to just to the law students. The BBA has certainly worked to create new programming that will be useful and appealing to law students. These programs include different career workshops, such as a summer series that teaches students “What It’s Really Like” to work in different practice areas and settings; evening social receptions that specifically invite law students to build the foundations of their networks; and the Summer Judicial Internship program, which places law students in their first and second year at courthouses for internships that allow them to work closely with judges and gain valuable experiential learning. Even directly after they graduate, we work hard to make sure these new lawyers know that they have resources at the BBA through programs like practical skills workshops and the Group Mentoring program, which provides one-on-one guidance from an experienced attorney to lawyers with less than five years of experience.
But we gain much more through these initiatives as a legal community. By extending our efforts to reach law students, we gain new lawyers who are eager to learn as much as they can about the profession and give back to it. We cultivate future leaders who have a stronger understanding about the scope of the profession and a vision for how they can work from within to help improve it. In advancing their professional education, we ensure that they will feel confident in their abilities to educate and serve the public in return.
A community is never static. Communities by nature continuously evolve, change, and grow over time; they must constantly be prepared to accept new ideas and new contributors. The legal community does not only exist for those who are already attorneys, but rather, it must provide for those who will join the profession so that they are motivated to perpetuate the sense of community and contribute to its excellence far into the future. We know that this support network must be established early. Mentorship is especially important now, at a time when new lawyers are facing myriad challenges as they enter the workforce. The BBA is committed to addressing and ameliorating these challenges today as well as those facing the profession in the future.
The takeaway is this: we are proud to work with these law schools to offer professional development and mentoring opportunities to their students – it is just as important to our mission as it is for their introduction to the legal community. We hope that our members will also embrace this aspect of community and participate in different activities targeted toward law students – whether it is by serving as panelists at career events, attending networking receptions, or acting as formal mentors. By helping the newest members of our community, we are enhancing the entire community and its future.