Wow. That’s just about all I can say. Although this article is publishing in March, as I write this I’ve just returned from the FBA’s inaugural Rising Professionals Seminar in Las Vegas, where I was blown away by a phenomenal group of young lawyers. I met lawyers from 24 different states, from private practice, government service, and in-house. The energy and enthusiasm were palpable. The future of the FBA is in very good hands.
In a series of focused, rapid-fire presentations, 11 different FBA lawyers in their early years of practice taught their peers trial techniques, practice development skills, and also high-level lessons about the substantive law they’re mastering. These younger lawyers included DOJ lawyers, plaintiffs and defense counsel, small and big firm lawyers—in other words, the typical melting pot of federal court practice that is the FBA— all having already achieved so much in their short careers. And our speaker ranks were as well-rounded as they were diverse: included in our speaker ranks were a former professional golfer, a Broadway dancer, amateur marathoners, and sand volleyball players. The energy and knowledge that our younger FBA members brought to their presentations was contagious.
FBA leaders Anh Le Kremer and Matt Moschella led separate discussions with seven different in-house lawyers from companies as diverse as Planet Hollywood, & J. Gallo Winery, MGM Resorts, and Iron Mountain. The audience was treated to candid comments about how to get ahead in corporate America, and also how to get hired by corporate America. For some, the highlights of the program were the very different presentations by our two keynote speakers, Jeff Cohen and John Dean. Before he was an entertainment lawyer, Cohen was a child actor, most famous for the role of “Chunk” in the 1985 movie “The Goonies”. Cohen shared a very entertaining and thoughtful message about the importance of lawyers’ role in society and some practical advice for working with each other. The conference closed with a powerful presentation from Dean, former counsel to President Richard Nixon and a key player in the nation’s major modern political scandal. Dean was 31 years old when he became counsel to the president, and was only 33 when his congressional testimony brought Nixon’s presidency to an end. He counseled our young lawyers about the false appeal of doubling-down on mistakes.
All of this was bookended by receptions where our association’s future leaders mingled and connected. What a great group of people. They taught each other, they learned from each other. The atmosphere was open and receptive. They networked. They made meaningful connections. The early post-conference survey results confirm this—100 percent of respondents said that they would recommend this symposium to a friend or colleague.
It was truly an amazing couple of days. The FBA created an opportunity for our younger members to connect, which is important, but then it was those members’ intelligence, energy, and enthusiasm that took over and made the symposium the success that it was. Newer members often hear us FBA old-timers, which I’m fast becoming (if I’m not already there), refer to the FBA as a family or say that we became deeply involved because of the people. This group of young lawyers didn’t just hear the words—they got a full dose of what the FBA can be when it is at its best. In other words, they saw that they are the FBA.
Kip T. Bollin is the FBA president and a litigation partner at Thompson Hine LLP in Cleveland, Ohio. Kip Bollin can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org