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July 10, 2018

Interested in Being a Young Lawyer Liaison to Sections? You Should Be

by contributor
Group of people standing outside

A young lawyers shaking handsThe Young Lawyer Liaisons to Sections provide a vital link between new and young lawyers and WSBA’s sections, opening new leadership opportunities while also strengthening connections with WSBA sections.

Jordan Couch, a workers’ compensation attorney for Palace Law, is one such liaison. Couch’s term as the Solo and Small Practice section liaison is expiring this year. We asked him about his time as a liaison, what he’s learned from it, and why he thinks it’s valuable for new and young lawyers.

If you’re a new or young lawyer who’s interested in this opportunity, there’s still time to apply for one- or two-year terms beginning Oct. 1. Applications are due no later than 5 p.m., July 13. Check out Young Lawyer Liaisons to Sections for application information.

How has your service as a liaison impacted your practice?
I can honestly say I wouldn’t be anywhere near as successful as I am had it not been for this program. Even beyond expanding my network of referrals, I’ve developed who I am as an attorney. Through my work as a liaison I have been invited to speak at a number of CLEs and I’ve been appointed to a number of other leadership positions both in the WSBA and the ABA.

What most surprised you about serving as a liaison?
How influential I could be. I came into the position thinking that my role would be to listen and learn. At my first meeting I was put in charge of the membership subcommittee, and I’ve only been given more leadership opportunities since then. Even though I wasn’t technically a voting member, my opinion was solicited on every issue we discussed.

Did you gain any special knowledge or skills from being a liaison that you wouldn’t have otherwise?
I learned a lot about the inner workings of the WSBA and how to work with the organization. I think this is essential for every lawyer. Every one of us is a member of the WSBA and regulated by it; it’s important to understand an organization that defines our professional lives.

What activities and programs has your section developed for new and young lawyers?
The Solo and Small Practice Section is an incredible place for young lawyers. We have networking and mentorship events, we give away young lawyer scholarships to the convention, and we work with the WYLC [Washington Young Lawyer Committee] when we can to host joint programs.

Did you have any concerns before becoming a liaison? Were those concerns assuaged after you began serving?
My only concern was that it might be a bit boring just being a liaison. I couldn’t have been more wrong.

What type of lawyer is best suited to being a liaison?
In order to be a good liaison you have to be a firm believer in giving back to the legal community. Yes, being a liaison can be a big boost to your career, but at its base you are a volunteer there to serve your peers.

How did you manage the time commitment?
I am lucky to work at a very supportive office. My boss, Patrick Palace, was the former bar president and encourages all of us to be involved. That said, the time commitment can be as little or as much as you want it to be. You’ll get out of it what you put in.

What would you most want to impart on future liaisons or people who are considering applying?
If you are considering applying, do it. If you are lucky enough to be appointed, jump in with both feet. If done right, being a liaison can be a springboard to anything else you want to do, so have some goals for yourself before you go into the first meeting. And if you have the ability, try to show up to one of your early meetings in person. It’s good to let the committee know who you are and put a face to the voice.

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