ABA/YLD Scholarship Program
By:  Rusty O’Kane

Interested young lawyers are invited to apply for the American Bar Association Young Lawyers Division scholarship program, the application for which opened on January 1 and runs through April 15. The program provides partial conference funding, publishing opportunities, and special assignments to division boards, teams, and committees. Scholarship categories include Solo, Small Firm, and General Practice Division (GPSolo), Government, Public Sector and Military Lawyers, and Minorities in the Profession. It is a great way to get exposure to the ABA, make an impact on the YLD, and meet young lawyers from around the country.

The YLD scholarship program is designed to encourage the participation of solo/small firm, government, private sector, and military service attorneys in the Young Lawyers Division. Priority will be given to those applicants who express a desire to become actively involved with the division and require financial assistance.

The program consists of:

     Per the division's financial policy, scholars will receive partial funding to attend the Fall Conference, ABA Midyear Meeting and Spring Conference: round-trip airfare up to $350; $20 ground transportation; and $100 per diem (for two days);

     Appointment to and active participation in one of the YLD boards or teams;


     All scholars are required to: attend the YLD Fall Conference, the ABA Midyear Meeting, and the YLD Spring Conference and participate in scheduled programming on Friday and Saturday of each meeting;

     Produce a written piece (i.e., article, resolution for consideration at the YLD Assembly); and

     Assist on projects as assigned.

Scholarship Categories:

     General Practice, Solo & Small Firm Practitioners;

     Government, Military and Public Sector Lawyers; and

     Minorities in the Profession.

Program Length

     One Bar Year (September 1 - August 31)


     To be eligible, a scholar must be a "young lawyer," which is defined as any licensed attorney who is under the age of 36 or who has been licensed for no more than five years at the start of the scholarship year (September 1). Applicants for this scholarship program should be ABA YLD-eligible lawyers who fall within at least one of the scholarship areas. There is no requirement that applicants be presently involved with a local ABA YLD affiliate. Although applications will be accepted from non-ABA members, any person chosen as a scholarship recipient must be an ABA member before receiving assistance. In addition, anyone receiving a scholarship must be present at all three funded conferences.

Application Process

An online application must be submitted, which includes:

     A completed application form;

     A letter outlining why you would like to become involved in the YLD;

     A biography;

     A resume; and

     Two to four letters of recommendation. Examples include letters from current or former employers and fellow practitioners.

Selection Process

The Review Committee is made up of ABA Young Lawyers Division members. Scholarships will be awarded to applicants who demonstrate financial need and express a strong desire to be actively involved in the ABA/YLD. Successful applicants will demonstrate a history of bar involvement, public service, and professional excellence.

The Review Committee will also consider the following based on the applicant’s letter of intent:

     Initiative: Has the applicant displayed initiative in the past or currently in community and professional activities? Does the applicant possess leadership potential?

     Financial Need: Does the applicant demonstrate a need for financial assistance in order to attend ABA YLD Conferences?

     Attendance: Does the applicant affirmatively state he/she will attend the three YLD Conferences?

     Communication: Are the ideas expressed in the letter of intent communicated clearly?

     Special Circumstances: Has the applicant overcome any unusual challenges or obstacles?

Rusty O’Kane is an associate in the Dallas office of Wick Phillips Gould & Martin. He is the District 26 representative for the ABA/YLD, representing North and West Texas. He can be reached by email at rusty.okane@wickphillips.com.

Views and opinions expressed in eNews are those of their authors and not necessarily those of the Texas Young Lawyers Association or the State Bar of Texas.

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