Oklahoma Bar Journal

Young Lawyers Division | Make the OBA Your Valentine

By Caroline Shaffer Siex

YLD leaders attend OBA Day at the Capitol 2018. From left Caroline Shaffer Siex, Dylan Erwin, Nathan Richter and Brandi Nowakowski.

February: our short and sweet month. Also, literally sweet. I can already see the images of chocolates, fruit bouquets and sweet-smelling flowers filling offices. Although considered to be a romantic holiday, we probably all had the common Valentine’s Day tradition of sending little cards to fellow classmates since learning to tie our shoes. Valentine’s Day is not just for romance but also to show care and compassion. Why not make the OBA your valentine by engaging as a member?

I think a handful (or more) of young lawyers do not know how to become more engaged. I know in law school, I thought of the OBA as CLE requirements and the ethics counsel. The OBA also has committees and sections with involvement opportunities. Joining a committee or section offers the ability to engage in issues affecting both our clients and members within our association. For example, the Access to Justice Committee is a wonderful committee for any lawyer who wants to learn about critical problems currently facing clients. Likewise, discussions abound regarding how lawyers may better serve those limited in their abilities to retain services. For example, in the past, the Access to Justice Committee focused on the ability for limited-scope practice to occur for those with limited resources to retain an attorney.

Another committee, the Lawyers Helping Lawyers Assistance Program (LHL), directly helps our membership community. LHL could potentially assist any member of the bar. The committee’s goal is to help members who may suffer from alcohol abuse, drug abuse or other mental health issues. I, myself, did not understand all that LHL accomplished until recently. LHL offers mental health assistance to members, and it relies on having a statewide coordinated network.

Sections offer a network within substantive law practice areas. You may want to get involved in an area of law but need to build a network for help. You may also be like many young lawyers I know who decided to go out on their own. If you work in a particular area of law, a section can broaden your network within that area. Often, sections also offer CLE specific to a lawyer’s practice area.

I want to encourage any young lawyer seeking a network or desiring to use their skills beyond just the practice of law to join a committee or section. If you are not within the Oklahoma City area, there are multiple virtual opportunities to engage. All committees and sections are listed on the OBA website at www.okbar.org/committees and www.okbar.org/sections. You may also reach out to any YLD liaison to ask more questions about involvement for any particular committee.

Make a plan to participate in an upcoming OBA event. March 21, 2023, for example, the OBA will be hosting Day at the Capitol. I enjoyed participating in this event a few years ago, and it is a way to stay informed of legislative issues and represent the legal community to our state representatives. You can view more upcoming events at www.okbar.org/events.

We hope to see more young lawyers engage with the OBA. If you ever find yourself unsure of what to do or how to participate in events, the YLD board is here to answer your questions. Please find your district or at-large director on the OBA YLD website for contact information.

Ms. Shaffer Siex practices in Tulsa and serves as the YLD chair. She may be contacted at cshaffer@gablawyers.com.

Originally published in the Oklahoma Bar Journal – OBJ 94 Vol 2 (February 2023)