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I Get By With A Little Help From My (Lawyer) Friends

Post Authored By: Brian M. Bentrup

“What do I do when my love is away?

Does it worry you to be alone?

How do I feel by the end of the day?

Are you sad because you’re on your own?

No, I get by with a little help from my friends.”

The Beatles’ 1967 hit, With a Little Help From my Friends, is a song about a lost lover, but stands for the proposition that we can all “get by” with a little help from our friends, or in the legal profession, our peers.

Whatever mores are observed 54 years later with respect to some of the song’s greener lines, the principal theme rings true as much today as it did then. While some motivated sole practitioners are able to embrace the practicing of law on an island, the overwhelming majority of attorneys get by with a little help from their friends.

The degree of support that an individual attorney needs varies from person-to-person. While some attorneys benefit greatly from a mentor or experienced practitioner they can shadow, others may only need a few limited, but meaningful connections. The practice of law is a fraternal profession and there is strength in that bond. The shared experience of going through something as arduous, intense and pressure-filled as law school cannot help but create strong bonds for individuals who may have never met, but who have shared this formative experience.

Why does this matter? Like any business, an individual could possess excellent knowledge and conduct themselves in a lawyerly manner, but without paying clients, all the education and apprenticing is for naught. Clients who pay their bill and pay them promptly are the lifeblood of any successful firm. All attorneys must embrace the constant grind for new clients, but this is especially true for younger attorneys who don’t have the experience or  social currency yet accumulated on which they can rely.

For young lawyers, it is essential to network with similarly-situated and like-minded practitioners. Perhaps the greatest asset that I’ve come across as a younger attorney is the Young Lawyers Section (YLS) of the Chicago Bar Association (CBA). The CBA is already a treasure trove for practitioners, centrally located in downtown of one of America’s largest and most prestigious cities. The YLS brings together attorneys just embarking on this career path and brings them together to promote their respective careers and firms.

Joining the YLS of the CBA is an important first step, but it will not get a younger attorney anywhere without active involvement. Join a committee! Attend a seminar! Make your presence known within the community.

But how? The YLS has regular networking events and other ways to become more active and involved. Naturally, this is a different experience during COVID, but that cannot be an excuse for lack of investment. Alternate arrangements are made and simultaneous two-way audio-visual connections, such as Zoom or Microsoft Teams, provide a viable substitute for in-person interaction.

In March 2021, YLS will host an event named “Law Practice Tracks”, which will enable law students to virtually meet with a lawyer. It will afford future lawyers the opportunity to personally observe and engage in a direct Q&A with a practitioner. This is an incredible opportunity for law students to experience the practice of law first-hand with the rare opportunity to receive immediate feedback on that experience and answers to questions.

The goal of Law Practice Tracks is to “provide law students with a valuable opportunity to connect with young lawyers in the Chicago area for networking, mentorship and to ask questions about the day-to-day practice of law.” The idea is to pair law students with young lawyers for a virtual session (via Zoom) so that the law students can ask the lawyers questions about the adjustment and transformation from law student to competent practitioner.

On a personal level, it is the exact type of event that I wish I had known about and participated in as a 3L or even as a 2L and 1L. On a professional level, it is terrific to see seasoned practitioners help guide a new generation of young attorneys through unfamiliar and uncharted territory. Licensing lawyers who are able to quickly adjust to the rigors of daily lawyering is a boon to the legal professions. It should also help many lawyers combat the fear of the unknown and imposter syndrome that plague many young attorneys, and minimize the risk of legal malpractice.

Interested? Attend Practice Tracks or many of the other upcoming events hosted by the YLS. These include the All Bar Social & Networking event, “Spring into Service” Fair, and the Government Services Career Fair. Below is more information about the other events can be found on the YLS site of the CBA here:

About the Author:

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Brian M. Bentrup is a graduate of Loyola University Chicago where he triple-majored in Economics, Political Science, and Psychology. In 2015, he obtained his law degree from The John Marshall Law School. In law school, Brian was selected to be an extern for the Honorable Laura C. Liu in the Mortgage Foreclosure and Mechanics Lien Division as well as the Illinois Tenant Union.

Brian joined Pluymert, MacDonald, Hargrove & Lee, Ltd. in January 2018. His practice includes estate planning, probate and trust administration, and residential and commercial real estate. Brian also focuses on guardianships of minors and disabled adults and has been named to the approved Guardian ad Litem lists for Cook County, DuPage County, Kane County and Lake County. Brian dedicates time to pro bono work with Chicago Volunteer Legal Services representing or advocating on behalf of minors and disabled adults.

Brian is a member of the American Bar, Illinois State Bar, Cook County Bar, DuPage County Bar, and Chicago Bar Associations. He is also a member of the Justinian Society of Lawyers and the Phi Alpha Delta Law Fraternity.

Brian is licensed to practice in Illinois and Missouri. When not practicing law, Brian enjoys spending time with his wife, daughter and son, and exploring new and different culinary experiences.

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