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Young Lawyers Committee provides a pipeline into the Brooklyn Bar Association

July 25, 2018 By Rob Abruzzese, Legal Editor Brooklyn Daily Eagle
M. Frank Francis, seen here during an event at Brooklyn Law School, is hoping to bridge the gap between law school and the legal practice with his work with the Brooklyn Bar Association Young Lawyers Committee. Eagle file photo by Mario Belluomo

When M. Frank Francis graduated from Brooklyn Law School, he took a job at a small law firm and was immediately thrown into the fire. Years later, he looks back and wished he had found out about the Brooklyn Bar Association (BBA) Young Lawyers Committee while he was still in law school to help him with that transition.

“There is a big disconnect between practice and law school,” Francis said. “When you are in school you don’t know how practice works at all. You are learning nothing practical. It’s literally hypothetical law. The model penal code isn’t a real thing.”

Now Francis is a co-chair of the BBA committee along with Adam Kalish. The committee, which is primarily made up of lawyers with less than 10 years of experience, is designed to bridge that gap between law school and the daily grind attorneys face.

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Eagle file photos by Rob Abruzzese

“It’s a networking component for, generally, young associates, young solos and young attorneys who need to be with their peers,” Francis said.

Francis was first invited to a Young Lawyers event by then-chair Daniel Antonelli, who is now a trustee at the Brooklyn Bar Association. He said the first event was fun, and he was put on the email list. Years later some of the people he met at those events have been the most helpful to him in his career.

“There is absolutely a business function to it and young lawyers need to be doing this from the beginning of their careers,” Francis said. “It’s how you grow, how you expand, it’s how you go out on your own or become a partner. It’s how lawyers have always done it.”

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Now Francis is working alongside Kalish, and Vice Co-Chairs Sean Kerley and Maria Ficalora, to keep fresh law school graduates from making the same mistake he made.

“I wish there was a bridge between law school and bar associations because it’s such a vital part of your first couple of years,” Francis said. “Especially for people looking for a job, or looking to get started on their own, but it’s definitely a resource that’s not being utilized.”

The BBA Young Lawyers Committee offers various types of programs from continuing legal education seminars, to discussions held at the BBA building to more social events.

“We try to keep the events fun and helpful when we can,” Kalish said. “We organize things that people like to do. Another big component is finding sponsors to subsidize events because the people we’re hoping to attract are often people with large student loans and rent to pay. They don’t want to spend their last dollar to have a drink with people you’ve never met before.”

The Young Lawyers Committee has also become an essential pipeline into the BBA itself. Nearly all of the past committee chairs are or were trustees at the BBA. Organizing smaller events that the committee hosts often is helpful in preparing attorneys to organizer much bigger and more complicated events that the bar association itself hosts.

“We are the face of the bar association for young attorneys,” said Kalish. “We are the ones who bring them in, introduce them to what the bar association does. Frank and I are organizing these events, but we have Sean [Kerley] and Maria [Ficalora] helping out. They eventually will be ready to take over from us and it just gets bigger and bigger. Now it’s a Young Lawyer event, later it’s the bar association event.”

 

The Young Lawyers Committee, which is primarily made up of lawyers with less than 10 years of experience, is designed to bridge that gap between law school and the daily grind attorneys face. Shown: The Brooklyn Bar Association Young Lawyers Committee at an event at Grand Prospect Hall. Eagle photo by Rob Abruzzese

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