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Possibilities for Young Lawyers in Colorado

I’ve been asked to write about “possibilities for our bar” and address “what young lawyers are looking for in a bar section” and “what the needs of young lawyers are.” Before I can answer this, I need to address who the young lawyers are and where our bar is now. In July 2014, 75% of individuals who took the bar passed it. Of that 75%, 111 people went to the University of Colorado, 175 people went to the University of Denver, and the remaining 346 people went to law schools outside of Colorado. More new attorneys went to law school in another state and chose to be here that was already here. This is what people need to understand when asking what young lawyers need and where we want to go.

The Importance of Mentors

Most young lawyers aren’t from here and we are here because we want to be. As a result, we need connections and mentors – we don’t already have them. We need to know the other members of the bar, their stories, and their struggles. When we’re cursing ourselves for going to law school and racking up all that debt (for a stressful job that is hard to handle most days), we need to know we aren’t alone and that generations before us have gone through the same thing. We need to hear from individuals we admire and respect that it gets better. In a town like Denver, big firms and built-in mentors are few and far between; this is the reason there is a disconnect between young lawyers and more seasoned members of the bar. Gone is the time when you had a built-in mentor and someone to go to with every question because most of us are too afraid to admit we don’t know something to ask.

It’s Okay To Ask For Help

Most people learn to cook from their parents. They get burned or cut themselves but they get better and it’s okay. When learning to be an attorney, you are NOT taught that it is okay if you mess up. Instead, you’re threatened with words like malpractice and disbarment over and over and over again, at CLEs, in the Colorado Bar Magazine, and by your malpractice insurance. When young attorneys mess up, they’re afraid to admit it or ask for help fixing it because of how serious the consequences are. What young attorneys need (and desperately want) are resources and mentors to help with that fear and weight that hangs over our shoulders. We need people to ask questions of and people we can confide in without fear of judgment or consequence. We need these same people to be our friends and to admit in us as well so we feel like it will get better.

The Possibilities are Limitless

I continuously hear speculation that there aren’t a lot of young lawyers in El Paso County because everyone leaves for Denver to make more money. I’m not sure that’s true. I think there are not a lot of young lawyers in El Paso County because we don’t feel connected enough with the legal community to stay in the area that we initially chose. Writing about possibilities for our bar is hard because they’re endless if we can work together and develop a system of mentors, resources, and friends. We need to stop blaming the internet for lack of personal connection and start blaming ourselves for not getting to know one another and asking for help or offering help when it’s needed.

All generations of our bar need to recognize this weakness and work on it together. Let’s develop a listserv. Let’s form a mentorship program. Let’s grow more social events for networking. Let’s build our bar up together instead of taking the easy route and leaving it alone. A “possibility” is defined as a thing that may happen or be the case. What possibilities are there for young lawyers in our bar? In my mind, our bar’s possibilities are limitless, from passing the bar to first hearings, to finding a mentor, to enjoying entire careers spent happily making a difference in our community. Let’s figure out how to accomplish this, what that looks like, and how to make things better together.

Posted January 28, 2015
by: MFL Team

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