This week the Association of Jewish Attorneys (AJA) officially launched after a year-and-a-half of careful research and planning. The AJA’s Executive Director, Sara Weinberg, JD, supported by an Advisory Board composed of local lawyers, designed the AJA to be a full-service Jewish bar association focused on providing practical, tangible benefits to assist its members in their practice of law.
“At its essence, the AJA is creating a community of lawyers and facilitating opportunities for networking, referrals and the sharing of knowledge and resources,” Weinberg told the Jewish Link. “I did a lot of research, and while there are organizations out there that offer bits and pieces of what we’ve assembled, I did not find a single active organization that offered the wide array of features and benefits of a full service Jewish bar association.”
The association will offer networking events and low-cost continuing legal education (CLE) seminars, as well as a robust online networking platform that will allow for individual as well as group connections and practice area discussion forums. It will also have an attorney referral service, so that people from the community seeking legal assistance can be matched up with lawyers in the appropriate field and geographic area.
The AJA website features a host of resources including an online directory, an events calendar and a multi-faceted career center. The career center offers tips for building a resume and provides the tools to post and search resumes and job openings for the legal job market.
“In addition to the many resources available to established and experienced attorneys, we wanted to provide needed support to law students and young attorneys as they begin their careers,” said Weinberg. The AJA Mentoring Program will help young attorneys connect with more experienced attorneys in relevant practice areas, while the career center will facilitate career advancement through its section for law student summer internships. “Networking events are also a great opportunity for law students and young attorneys to connect with other local lawyers and tap into their expertise.” Weinberg added.
The AJA has been formed as a national association but is starting off with a New Jersey chapter. There are plans to launch other state branches in the future.
Weinberg received her J.D. from Columbia Law School. She practiced trusts and estates for a number of years and co-authored several articles with Debra T. Hirsch (a member of the AJA Advisory Board) regarding Israeli tax law and its effect on U.S. trusts and grantors. In the fall of 2016 she left private practice to create the AJA and serve as its executive director.
There are varying memberships inclusive of experienced attorneys, new attorneys (less than four years in practice), retired attorneys and government and non-profit attorneys, as well as special memberships for law students, paralegals and legal administrative assistants. “Our hope is that by offering membership to paralegals and legal administrative assistants, we can assist these individuals in finding jobs while allowing our attorney members to find the help they need in their practices,” said Weinberg.
Leading up to this week’s launch the association held six pre-launch events to begin to spread the word and to receive feedback from attorneys throughout the state as to how to make the association more valuable for its members.
On April 19, the first CLE Lunch & Learn is scheduled on the topic of Estate Planning: A Jewish Perspective, with Martin Shenkman. On May 15, Ez Shaffren will present a CLE seminar on real estate surveys. Other CLE events are currently being planned on topics within family law, immigration law and others.
By Sara Kosowsky Gross