Resources Around The Web: Generation J.D.

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Generation J.D. is a blog resource for young lawyers. While hosted by “The Daily Record,” Maryland’s legal newspaper, Generation J.D.’s is relevant to more than just Maryland lawyers. It’s bloggers range from recent law school graduates to law firm partners, all sharing practical advice and observations aimed at helping new lawyers transition into practice.

I recently spoke to two integral figures in Generation J.D., Michael W. Siri and Danny Jacobs.

Michael is a regular blogger at Generation J.D. He graduated from the University of Maryland School of Law in 2001. He’s also the former Chair of the Maryland State Bar Association Young Lawyers’ Section and is currently the YLS’ Board of Governors Representative for the MSBA. Recently, he’s been elected partner in Bowie & Jensen LLC’s litigation department, where he focuses on commercial litigation, including construction law. He has worked on matters at all stages of litigation in state and federal courts, as well as administrative hearings and arbitrations.

Danny is a legal affairs reporter at “The Daily Record.”

Question: What's the mission of Generation J.D. and how did it get started?

Danny: Generation J.D. is a blog by young lawyers for young lawyers. I think of it as a message board where young lawyers can learn, share, gripe and commiserate. We started this blog almost three years ago, and we try to keep this blog as diverse as possible in terms of age, race, location, current occupation and background.

Question: How has being a young lawyer changed over time?

Michael: Firms and employers are focusing both on the practice of law and on the business of law. As a younger lawyer, my primary responsibility was to handle cases. There was less of an emphasis on business development, but with the changing economy, there has been a change in the responsibilities of lawyers.

Question: What are the biggest issues you see facing young lawyers these days, and what are your recommendations on how to face those issues?

Michael: Finding jobs and experience. The legal market is tough and without the proper experience, a young lawyer will find it difficult to land their first job. As a part of a smaller/mid-sized firm, we look for associates with some relevant legal experience. For new lawyers, this is a catch-22, because they cannot find a job because of the lack of experience, but they cannot gain the experience because of the inability to find a job. Also, for private practice attorneys, the path to partnership is longer and harder. Associates should work to distinguish themselves and show their employers the reason that they should be made partner. When an associate becomes indispensable is usually when they make partner. Just billing a lot of hours will not get you there, but working both internally and externally to create a practice for yourself will.

Question: What do you wish you had known in law school and then when you first started to practice law? What would you have done differently?

Michael: I wished I had taken classes more classes related to the practice of law. Both from a clinical aspect and from the business aspect. Recent law graduates know about contract, constitutional law, criminal procedures and the other subjects required by law school curriculum and bar exams, but few know how to appropriately draft pleadings, read a profit/loss statement, or when to make an objection on the cross-examination of your expert witness. Law school teaches you about the law, but does not prepare you for the practice of law.

Question: What are the benefits to young lawyers for being involved in blogs and organizations like Generation J.D.? How can people get involved?

Danny: From my perspective, the benefit of the blog for the bloggers has been the creative outlet it has provided. Some people write about issues in their practice, but other times we’ll get some very personal stories from our writers that have only the slightest connection to the law. We don’t always have openings for writers, but anyone interested can email me at Danny.Jacobs@thedailyrecord.com and I’d be happy to talk to them.

 

Thanks, Michael and Danny, for sharing your insights!