Bar associations offer many benefits to lawyers that complement and further the practice of law. Those benefits include pertinent information about practice trends, continuing legal education (CLE) courses, building camaraderie and professional relationships, discovering or cultivating a professional skill set, and volunteer and pro bono opportunities. The associations can be mandatory, such as a state regulatory bar association, or voluntary, like the American Bar Association. While serving lawyer members in cities, counties, regions, nationally, or internationally, bar associations also help the public.

Engaging the local community through bar association service and philanthropic work erases doubts and stereotypes surrounding attorneys, strengthening integrity, advocacy, and trust in the profession.  Community engagement also breaks down barriers and promotes accessibility to the legal system. The Allegheny County Bar Association (ACBA) has served the Allegheny County legal community since 1870 with a mission “to empower our members; promote a just, accessible and inclusive judicial system; and serve the community at large.” The ACBA welcomes all attorneys and law students. It has numerous sections for lawyers to get involved, including Young Lawyers Division (YLD), Women in the Law Division (WLD), Civil Litigation Section, Homer S. Brown Division (HSB), and LGBTQ+ Rights Committee to name a few.

Many of the attorneys at Lynch Carpenter’s Pittsburgh office are involved with the ACBA. For example, Gary Lynch serves on the ACBA Federal Court Section Council, a position nominated or appointed for a three-year commitment. Kelly Iverson is an active member of the Federal Court Section and Civil Litigation Section. Kelly recently volunteered to judge the Allegheny County High School Mock Trial competition. Jamisen Etzel wrote and instructed an ACBA CLE called Class Action for the Non-Class Action Attorney, which was presented during a “SkiLE” (a day of skiing while collecting a CLE credit on the bus ride to Seven Springs) sponsored by Lynch Carpenter. The firm also sponsored an ACBA Strike Out Hunger event (a game night of bowling with all proceeds benefiting the hunger campaign for the Allegheny County Bar Foundation’s Attorneys Against Hunger). As a firm, our lawyers traveled to the ACBA’s Annual Bench Bar Conference in Seven Springs, an event that encompasses CLEs, opportunities to network, meet more amazing attorneys, and create exciting memories with colleagues.

Even more unique to the ACBA is its zeal to encourage and support its young lawyers (practicing ten years or less). The YLD perpetually facilitates the advancement of its section members through events, education, fundraising, and volunteer work. In YLD programming, the Bar Leadership Initiative (BLI) is offered every year for section members. BLI was designed for young lawyers with little to no involvement with the ACBA to develop leadership and professional skills, while learning the inner workings of the ACBA. Only 15 individuals are selected per class and the class must complete a project.

BLI Class Pic

2022 -2023 Bar Leadership Initiative Class

BLI Happy Hour

412 Youth Zone Representatives and BLI Chair, Tara Sease, at Luggage with Love Happy Hour

This author was accepted to the 2022-2023 BLI class and participated in this rigorous yet rewarding program. As part of the curriculum, I attended monthly BLI meetings, joined the YLD Education Committee, participated in the YLD Annual Gift Drive, and attended various YLD, ACBA, and other divisions events. With the Education Committee, I volunteered to chair the SkiLE, assisted with other education programs, and offered ideas for upcoming YLD CLEs.

The 2022-2023 BLI class project was Luggage with Love. We collected new or gently used suitcases and bags to donate to 412 Youth Zone to be provided to young adults transitioning out of foster care. Included in the bags were pamphlets with QR codes to basic legal knowledge related to taxes, voting, Miranda rights, and landlord/tenant law, along with toiletries and other necessities. In Pennsylvania, approximately 1,100 children age out of foster care each year, and many have no financial resources. One in four of those children experience homelessness or mental health challenges. 412 Youth Zone was designed to help young people between the ages of 16 and 23 that are transitioning out of foster care and help them to “gain stability, build positive relationships, learn life skills, meet basic needs, foster creative expressions and be guided on the right path towards a brighter future.” The BLI class also planned a happy hour to collect bags and raise funds to purchase additional toiletries. The class delivered over 150 new/gently used luggage/duffel bags and presented 412 Youth Zone with a check in the amount of $1,415 (the total proceeds raised during the happy hour).

For nine months with the BLI, I grew my professional network, learned more about the ACBA structure, and discovered new transferable skills, while strengthening my leadership and professionalism. The experience culminated with a rewarding class project that assisted those youth aging out of foster care, but also raised awareness in the local bar association of 412 Youth Zone and its mission. What’s next after BLI? I am excited to have been nominated for a council position with HSB and plan to continue to serve the legal community.

On a personal note, it’s been an incredible and full-circle experience to be involved with the ACBA, YLD, and HSB. I was placed with an ACBA-affiliated firm in 2011 as part of an HSB summer program for high school students. As a teenager, I was unsure of my future and where I’d be after high school. I’m grateful to the ACBA and the HSB for influencing my decision to become a lawyer. My path now is clear. I’m proud and honored to serve the legal community. Hopefully, my service can spark a positive influence in another person’s life. Each person from my class (and our BLI chair) inspired me to become a better attorney and community leader. I’m happy to have worked with outstanding young attorneys and look forward to more collaboration in the future.

BLI Happy Hour

Donations at Luggage with Love Happy Hour

BLI Project

BLI class members presenting check to 412 Youth Zone

Blog By Hannah Barnett


1 ACBA Mission Statement,

2 Homer S. Brown is considered the first African American judge in Pittsburgh. He graduated from the University of Pittsburgh School of Law in 1923 and joined the ACBA the same year. He served the Pittsburgh community for over 50 years as both a civil and political rights activist Homer S. Brown Biography,

3 See

4 Id.

5 Auberle 412 Youth Zone,