A new WisLawNOW podcast called “Bottom Up,” produced by the State Bar of Wisconsin, features frank discussions and relatable stories that highlight the interests, challenges, and opportunities for attorneys in their first decade of practice.

Hosted by Emil Ovbiagele, founder of a small law firm based in Milwaukee and immediate past president of the State Bar’s Young Lawyer Division, the Bottom Up podcast is an extension of the WisLawNOW community of legal bloggers in Wisconsin.

Why the name Bottom Up? Ovbiagele says it’s a recognition that the insights of new and young lawyers – starting from the “bottom” – are valuable and ought to be heard.

“It was really formed out of a need or an idea of exposing issues that younger lawyers contend with to the larger bar,” Ovbiagele said in the first episode, released in July.

The first episode introduces Ovbiagele as the primary host, as well as what he intends to explore through co-hosts and guests once per month in the next year.

“A lot of conversations that take place within the bar as it relates to issues that affect lawyers tend to be top down. It’s often assumed that younger lawyers don’t have much to offer early on in their careers, which I understand. We are new to the profession.

“But we have a significant portion of members who are younger lawyers. They do have a stake, they do have ideas, they do have issues, and they do have a perspective.

“The podcast is intended to shine a spotlight on those issues that they contend with and view and frame these issues from the young lawyers’ perspective.”

Ovbiagele says he wants to invite both younger and experienced lawyers to have a dialogue on how to bridge divides that may exist between generations on various issues important to the successful practice of law as well as the legal profession in general.

Second Episode: Mentorship

In the second episode​, released this week, Ovbiagele and co-host Kristen Hardy explore the question: When it comes to mentorship, mentoring, and sponsorship, is there a generational divide?

Guest Syovata Edari provides insight as a former criminal trial lawyer turned award-winning chocolatier. Edari, who graduated from U.W. Law School in 2001, is candid about her struggles as a young Black woman in the first years of practice, first as an assistant state public defender in Milwaukee and later as a federal defender in Kansas.

Along the way, she sought out mentors, and now provides mentorship to others. Does she think there’s a generational divide when it comes to thoughts or attitudes related to mentorship?

Edari said with age comes experience that cannot be replaced. With the availability of technology that older lawyers did not have, however, do younger lawyers lose sight of the value of the wisdom that only comes with age and experience?

Do experienced lawyers expect younger lawyers to pay them too much deference? Ovbiagele and Hardy provide their perspectives, and all three participants provide ideas on building authentic mentoring relationships between different generations.

What’s Next?

Bottom Up, a WisLawNOW podcast, plans to release a new podcast once per month, covering various issues that are of interest to young lawyers.

“People can expect awesome guests, exciting topics, honest and hard conversations with an array of diverse perspectives,” Ovbiagele said. “Young lawyers have diverse perspectives, so we will champion these perspectives on different issues.

“I expect a real hour every month like nothing that’s out there in terms of legal podcasts,” Ovbiagele noted. “I think the authenticity of it will carry through and I look forward to having these conversations.”