Jonathan Childers

An Interview with DAYL President Jonathan Childers

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Attorney at Law Magazine Dallas Publisher PJ Hines sat down the Jonathan Childers to discuss the main focus of he Dallas Association of Young Lawyers as well as upcoming events.

AALM: What is main focus of the Dallas Association of Young Lawyers (DAYL) in the coming year?

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Childers: DAYL is implementing programming designed for its members to be “Healthy, Wealthy, and Wise.” For healthy, DAYL has introduced a new “Whole-istic Wellness” initiative, which seeks to empower young lawyers to practice good physical and mental health as part of their lawyer lifestyle. DAYL is helping its members be wealthy by addressing head-on the tough issues facing young lawyers. One new project for 2015, “Breakfast with Business Peers,” features an educational series where young lawyers learn from their contemporaries in business. DAYL is helping young lawyers be wise through experiential learning opportunities. On June 6, 2015, DAYL will host its first-ever Trial Boot Camp. This one day, hands-on trial skills academy features many of Dallas’ premier judges and trial attorneys, who will teach and critique young lawyers.

AALM: What are some exciting events coming up?

Childers: DAYL has partnered with the Houston Young Lawyers Association on a project called “My Other Hometown.” The project helps make the courts of the visiting city the lawyers’ other hometown, so they won’t feel “home towned.” On March 20, 2015, a delegation of Houston young lawyers traveled to Dallas and presented on how to be most effective in the state and federal courts located in Houston. On April 17, 2015, a delegation of Dallas young lawyers traveled to Houston and presented on the same topic, but concerning the state and federal courts located in Dallas.

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AALM: What changes are in store for the association over the next few years?

Childers: A larger digital presence. At the end of 2014, we introduced a sharp new website, and we are in the process of making it even more interactive. We want the website to be a one-stop center for all things DAYL and to serve as a resource for young lawyer organizations nationwide. We will also deliver more news and event reminders digitally and in a smartphone-friendly format.

AALM: How is the association involved in the local community? Any nonprofit or pro bono work?

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Childers: DAYL hosts approximately 150 events per year, many of which involve service to the Dallas community. Public service projects occur through committees as diverse as the Elder Law Committee, to Lawyers Against Domestic Violence, to Aid to the Homeless Committee. DAYL also offers a volunteer opportunity one Saturday per month through its Generation Generosity Committee. Additionally, DAYL hosts Freedom Run, which is a 5K fun run; the proceeds benefit the Dallas Assist the Officer Foundation.

DAYL also impacts the local community through its Leadership Class. Recently, the 2013 DAYL Leadership Class presented a check for $50,000 to Dallas Area Habitat for Humanity and Economic Partners Investing in Communities (EPIC). The 2014 DAYL Leadership Class presented its project, Crawfest: Claws for a Cause, on Saturday, April 25, 2015 at Four Corners Brewery. Proceeds from Crawfest benefited the North Texas Food Bank and its Food 4 Kids Program.

AALM: As more students graduate, how is the association helping to integrate them into the legal community? Childers: DAYL helps its members transition from law students to practicing attorneys. Last year, it formed a Law Student Assistance Committee to deliver DAYL programming directly to law students at the Southern Methodist University Dedman School of Law, the Texas A&M University School of Law and the UNT Dallas College of Law. DAYL also started A Lawyer in Transition Committee focused on helping attorneys who are transitioning jobs or between jobs. Finally, DAYL has experienced a surge in its Solo & Small Firm Committee and programming as more young lawyers are hanging their own shingle.

AALM: What is the traditional demographic of your members?

Childers: DAYL is comprised primarily of Dallas-area lawyers who are licensed in the state of Texas and are age 36 or younger. To be a regular member, one must be licensed in Texas and age 36 of younger as of Jan. 1 of the year for which membership is sought or licensed five years in Texas. Associate memberships are available to law students, lawyers who are not licensed in Texas, and lawyers who are over 36. DAYL is comprised of lawyers of all types, from business trial lawyers and corporate transactional attorneys to criminal law practitioners and probate lawyers.

AALM: Beyond networking and CLE events, what do you provide your members?

Childers: DAYL provides opportunities for leadership training and public service. For leadership training, it offers a Leadership Class and also a Judicial Intern Program. The Leadership Class enables lawyers of all backgrounds to meet each other and other leaders in the Dallas community and in the Bar to develop their leadership skills and explore how attorneys can make a difference in the profession and the community. The Judicial Intern Program connects law students with Dallas county judges for a summer internship. As for public service, members have at least three opportunities per month to volunteer through DAYL programming, ranging from battling child hunger, to addressing animal welfare, to assisting the homeless.

AALM: What is the main mission of your association?

Childers: The DAYL has two primary purposes. One purpose is to improve the quality of life for all young lawyers through a variety of initiatives designed to educate, support, challenge and entertain our members. A second, but equally important, purpose is to serve the Dallas community through public service projects that young lawyers find meaningful.

AALM: As a member of the association’s leadership, what changes are you trying to put into effect?

Childers: I have tried to place additional emphasis on the DAYL’s goal of improving the quality of life for young lawyers, while still maintaining its proud tradition of service. Young lawyers need to practice better self-care. Between working long hours, attending lunch and evening meetings, and handling client emergencies, many young lawyers feel overwhelmed and suffer from manifestations of excessive stress. Being healthy extends beyond physical health and requires a holistic approach focusing on body, mind and spirit. This underlies DAYL’s new “Whole-Istic Wellness” initiative.

AALM: As you look back at your association’s history, what role do you think it has played in the community? Do you think that will change in the future?

Childers: The DAYL has provided the training ground for some of Dallas’ finest leaders – from Judge Barbara M.G. Lynn of the United States District Court for the Northern District of Texas and Justice Douglas S. Lang of the Texas Fifth District Court of Appeals at Dallas to Dena DeNooyer Stroh, General Counsel of the North Texas Tollway Authority (each is a former DAYL president). Additionally, it has encouraged lawyers to look beyond their individual law practices to shape the Dallas community. DAYL will continue generating community leaders and civic-minded attorneys into the future.

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