Young Lawyers Journal

Issue 14
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Young Lawyers: Find a Lifeline –- Get Involved!

by Brigid Mitchell, associate attorney, Denise Squillante PC

The life of an attorney can be isolating at times and for many of us this can be an unwelcome part of the practice. For those of us that transitioned into the practice after years of being a student, the transition can be a bumpy road as it requires major life changes. Many of the pressures of being a student are different from those we experience as practicing attorneys and the change in our everyday life can be dramatic.

In my experience, I find that my social circle has shrunk considerably since entering private practice or even since entering law school. I have wrestled with why this has happened throughout my journey from college student to law student to practicing attorney but I cannot pinpoint any one reason. However, I do know that the practice itself can be very isolating for a variety of reasons including the public's perceptions about attorneys.

Many of my young colleagues have had similar experiences and we find solace in one another in adjusting to our new life as practicing attorneys. One particular place I have found to be a tremendous lifeline is the Massachusetts Bar Association and in particular the Young Lawyers Division.

Bar association involvement - on all levels - can provide attorneys at all stages of their careers with an invaluable support system. Many lasting friendships and connections are to be made through bar association involvement. I for one have met so many amazing people through my experiences with bar association work. It is very comforting to know there are other people in a similar situation with similar experiences and it helps to know you are not alone. I so enjoy networking and socializing with other attorneys outside of the adversarial process. Stepping outside of an adversarial role with other lawyers promotes civility and can work against negative perceptions people may have about attorneys. This can be achieved through bar involvement and volunteerism.

The difficult transition into practice makes bar involvement early in one's career that much more important. The isolation and pressure of the practice cause many people to leave the practice. Therefore, it is our responsibility as active participants in bar associations to educate our fellow young lawyers about the significance of bar involvement and bar leadership as a safety net for lawyers. If this safety net is put into place right away - beginning with law school - fewer people may leave the practice.

There are so many benefits to bar involvement beyond providing a lifeline and support network. Bar involvement serves to enhance and enrich the lives of all lawyers alike on both a professional and personal level.

Admitted to the bar in December 2009, Mitchell is an associate attorney at Denise Squillante PC in Fall River, where she focuses in the areas of family law and personal injury. A member of the MBA's Young Lawyers Division Board of Directors, Miitchell is also a General Practice, Solo & Small-Firm Section Council member.

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