On November 12, American Bar Association President-Elect Jim Silkenat joined Adjunct Professor Diana Sen, immediate past President of the Hispanic National Bar Association, to speak about the networking value of bar association membership.
Over 100 students from the Criminal Practice, Federal Judicial, and Civil Practice Externships gathered for the discussion, which was moderated by the Hon. Elizabeth Stong, a U.S. Bankruptcy Judge for the Eastern District of New York and Adjunct Professor at the Law School, and Professor Lisa Smith. The speakers focused on the importance of serving on committees, volunteering to host and plan bar association events, and attending events and meetings in order to become a recognizable presence in these circles.
“Sometimes, the word ‘networking’ scares people because they have the perception that you must be the most outgoing person in the room to be successful at it,” said Silkenat. “But networking can take many forms. Active bar association participants often make a name for themselves by doing substantive work in areas of interest to them.”
Silkenat and Sen also discussed the different routes they took to get to their current positions and stressed how becoming involved with bar associations helped them find and become mentors, bring attention to substantive issues they feel strongly about, and build professional relationships.
“We wanted to demonstrate the value of becoming active in a bar association, where you can make great contacts and accelerate your reputation by working on substantive matters,” said Smith. “Understanding the opportunities that active participation in bar associations present is part of an important transition into successful practice.”