Clearly, this was a matter of supply and demand.
From 2006 until 2011, the Connecticut Law Tribune supplied zero editions of its formerly annual New Leaders in the Law issue. As a result, when we revived the concept this year, the demand was overwhelming more than 200 nominations.
We spent hours reading applications and winnowing the list to arrive at the 60 outstanding lawyers all under age 40 featured in this special section.
As we agonized over just who to include, several factors came into play. First, as has been oft-discussed in this publication and elsewhere, a growing number of top-notch lawyers are opting to work outside of big law firms. And so we made a concerted effort to represent attorneys from all sectors of the legal community, from solos to assistant attorneys generals to public defenders. Of course, major firms are well-represented, but perhaps not in the numbers they might have been a decade ago.
Second, we adopted a broad definition of leader. Yes, law firm partners are leaders in that they often literally supervise and mentor other up-and-coming attorneys. Yes, litigators are leaders because they serve as the legal communitys public face in the courtroom and media. But if one also defines a leader as someone who makes significant contributions to the profession, then officers in bar associations, attorneys who publish legal articles and books and those who perform commendable amounts of pro bono work fit the criteria as well.
A few small points: The entry deadline was Sept. 1, so all ages are computed as of that date. Also, each bio contains an excerpt from a 150-word essay submitted on behalf of each nominee. In all cases, those were written by peers, mentors, supervisors and former employers (and not by us). Finally, each bio includes a bulleted list of accomplishments. It would have been highly repetitive to mention every Super Lawyer or everyone who had previously made someone elses under-40 list, so those sorts of accolades have been omitted.
A word about the future: Plans call for the New Leaders of the Law section to return on an annual basis. So if your favorite young lawyer didnt make this years final cut, please try again in 2013. Chances are we came ever-so-close to including the person you recommended this year. Wed be ecstatic if you give us another chance.