The steps necessary to start a JRCLS student chapter differ from school to school. Any student who wishes to start a new chapter at their school will have to work with their school's student organizations coordinator. There are many schools that have no requirements at all. Other schools have very strict policies and requirements for starting a new organization or club.
For example, below is a list of items that is required at the La Verne Law School in California, a school that has strict policies:
- Written Recognition by the national club (the International JRCLS) authorizing the formation of a chapter at the school (see attached sample letter); the YLSC Committee can provide you with this if necessary;
- Written chapter constitution (we can provide you with a sample constitution upon request);
- Chapter Mission Statement (see attached JRCLS Mission Statement);
- Chapter By-Laws (covering how the organization will be financed and governed);
- Chapter policy and procedure for conducting annual election of officers; and
- Signatures from 10 students wishing to join and form the organization (any organization that drops below 10 members is derecognized by the school at the end of the school year; the next year they have to submit new paperwork and go through the recognition and approval process again).
Once school approval has been received, please forward the approval notice to the YLSC along with the name and contact information of the new student chapter president. After review, you will receive approval notification from the YLSC. After that, your new JRCLS student chapter will exist! You will receive training and support from us. We will also help you contact and connect to the nearest professional chapter of the JRCLS.
Please contact us if you have any questions or run into any difficulties. We are here to help you! Good luck!
In 2018, the JRCLS announced the formation of the Young Lawyer/Student Chapter Committee. Here is a quick Q&A with the YL/SC Committee Chair, Megan Nelson.
Q: Why was the YL/SC Committee created?
A: The YL/SC Committee was created to address the needs and interests of law students and young lawyers and to provide support. Formerly, the Student Chapters Board (SCB) addressed law student needs and interests. After deciding it was time to add a Young Lawyers Division, JRCLS leaders realized that combining these two groups would not only strengthen both but would remove duplicative procedures and planning. It is very exciting to see these changes!
Q: What are the purposes of the YL/SC Committee?
A: The main purposes of the YL/SC Committee are (1) to help create, support and strengthen student chapters; (2) to help attorney chapters integrate law students and young lawyers; (3) to strengthen young lawyer involvement; and (4) to create and strengthen mentoring. The YL/SC Committee is working on fulfilling these purposes by developing and implementing training and other resources for student chapter leaders and attorney chapters, pursuing outreach and integration efforts for young lawyers and students, and facilitating mentoring, in partnership with the Practice Areas committee.
From L-R Kevin Pooley, Devin Tarwater, Christine Cooke, Megan Nelson
Q: Do students and young lawyers meet together as a chapter now?
A: No. Students will continue to have their own chapters. That stays the same. Young lawyers will continue to participate with the professional chapters. That also stays the same. The differences are that young lawyers will now be represented as a group and will have a representative on the professional attorney board, and the leadership for both the student chapters and young lawyers will be combined.
Q: Why is membership in JRCLS valuable to young lawyers and students?
A: As a young, second-year associate attorney and a former student, I can personally attest to the tremendous value of being involved in JRCLS during law school and early in my career. As a law student and young lawyer, it is difficult to balance various demands at work, school, church, and in one’s personal life. But I find that service and participation in JRCLS is “rejuvenating” and offers opportunities to get perspective and support in ways that have enhanced my ability to be a successful student and attorney. I think many students and young lawyers may initially be drawn to JRCLS because they think it is a “fast-pass” to getting internships and jobs. I certainly have made connections with JRCLS students and members that have indirectly or directly led to enhanced internship or job opportunities. But the greatest benefits I have reaped from my involvement in JRCLS are lasting professional relationships and friendships, and even personal insights and inspiration I have gained while attending JRCLS events and being involved in worthwhile causes on JRCLS committees.
Q: How can young lawyers and students get more involved in JRCLS?
A: I’m glad you asked! First, make sure you have registered as a JRCLS member, to help ensure that you can receive communications from JRCLS and YL/SC. [Go to jrcls.org and hit the red button “Join Now” in the upper right hand corner of the page]. I also suggest taking advantage of going to local and regional/international JRCLS events. My earliest interactions with JRCLS entailed simply “showing up” at lunch meetings with my student chapter and at local and regional conferences. I enjoyed making friends and feeling a sense of community with other JRCLS students and attorneys. And, finally, look for ways to actively serve in JRCLS—even in small and simple ways. You can get to know your local attorney and student chapter leaders and volunteer to help. On the international level, JRCLS frequently looks for volunteers to help with things like sharing JRCLS updates on social media, websites, JRCLS publications, and other channels; promoting pro bono efforts; planning conferences; and in many other capacities. You can learn more about getting involved here:
Q: As an attorney and member of a professional JRCLS chapter, how can I support young lawyers and students in my local chapter?
A: With regard to students: Invite them to professional chapter events; offer to speak at or find a speaker for one of their student chapter events; attend a student chapter event; encourage your professional chapter to sponsor a student chapter event; encourage your professional chapter to include a student chapter representative on their board; encourage your professional chapter to sponsor a student chapter member’s attendance at a JRCLS conference. With regard to young lawyers: Invite them to attend professional chapter events; encourage your professional chapter to include a young lawyer representative on their board; at professional chapter events, sit by and get to know young lawyers and then introduce them to more established attorneys.
Q: Will there be a student/young lawyer track of classes available at regional and international JRCLS conferences?
A: Yes. The YL/SC Committee is hoping to have several classes available at each JRCLS conference that will be specifically designed to meet student and young lawyers needs and interests. Please let me know of classes you would like to see offered!
Further questions and suggestions about the YL/SC Committee are appreciated. Please contact me, Megan Nelson, at firstname.lastname@example.org.
By Megan Nelson, JRCLS YL/SC Committee Chair