How Volunteering Can Help You Grow, Improve, and Create

By Mary Vacherweill posted 02-23-2021 11:13


Years ago, when I made a jump from legal secretary to law firm IT department personnel, I found a new world in ILTA and embraced the thrill of sharing technology ideas in a global community.  At first, I lurked behind the scenes quietly reading helpful nuggets, which I applied to my work as an applications analyst. As I learned, I gradually gained the confidence to post questions and respond to certain threads.  

As a multi-career woman and having moved from the arts to corporate America, there was a certain degree of imposter syndrome to overcome. When I began attending local presentations in person and finally even hosting one, the opportunity to meet people and gain multiple mentors was life-broadening. After a good 10 years of receiving so many benefits from ILTA, the idea of volunteering began to flame in the back of my mind.  

I started observing what ILTA members did, the roles they performed, the way they developed topics, and the research they were conducting. In doing so, I mentally began trying on for-size things that maybe I could do to contribute. I wanted to present myself as articulate and worthy, but also to engage in a useful way. I was intimidated by the enormous brainpower that is ILTA. Perhaps others are hesitant to speak up and come forward to volunteer. Whatever qualms I had about stepping up were exactly working against the engagement level I desired. I learn by doing, and volunteering is no exception.   

Some of the notable facets of ILTA which I’m finding are enhanced by volunteering, include: 

  • The ‘collective hive mind’ of which we all play a part 
  • The human component - getting to know people and their differing personalities and experiences (as opposed to reviewing everything in writing) 
  • Question asking which sparks thought-provoking conversations 
  • Relationship fostering - as both mentor and mentee – which I’m finding enormously beneficial (and enjoyable!) 
  • Opportunities to be more outgoing – changing my world view (I started volunteering at a local food bank last year) 

In short, fully participating and engaging however I can is rewarding. Volunteering not only allows me to give back, but it also makes me feel useful. Am I still anxious about being more involved? Sometimes. I’m a relatively new volunteer.  And each volunteer meeting/event/call/webinar feeds my brainpower and encourages interesting and friendly discourse. I am fortunate to have ILTA as an amazing resource on many fronts, and I believe it is up to us as individuals to keep that going. 

About Mary Vacherweill 
Mary is Senior Technology Specialist at Faber Daeufer & Itrato PC and is now serving as an ILTA Volunteer within the ILTACON Conference Committee, one of ILTA’s most sought-after volunteer positions. ILTACON Conference Committee volunteers meet regularly to talk about the trends in Legal Tech, discuss challenges and key topics, and plan highly engaging conference sessions consumed by countless legal technologists worldwide.  
Learn more here. 

View current open volunteer opportunities here.