New narrative podcast amplifies voices of young lawyers

Young Lawyer Rising may be a new podcast, but the hosts sound like radio vets out of the gate.

There’s a reason why Sonia Russo and Mathew Kerbis come across as practiced broadcast professionals. 

Sonia Russo
YLR host Sonia Russo

For the show, Russo is tapping into her experience as an FM radio reporter and producer. And Kerbis is a litigator experienced with speaking to different audiences. Not to mention he has a background in voice acting and improv. 

The two create natural chemistry as they shift between Russo’s narratives featuring people and issues useful to young lawyers and Kerbis’s regular segment, the “Financial Wellness Minute.”

The show serves a niche that the creators from the ABA Young Lawyers Division saw missing for the audience of newly minted lawyers. While numerous shows feature interviews and advice for lawyers, including young lawyers, much of the advice comes from academics or lawyers decades removed from law school. The market, competition, and law practice dynamics have changed. So has the population. 

Mathew Kerbis
Segment host Mathew Kerbis

“Advice for young lawyers can sound like one thing coming from a lawyer who’s been in practice for 30 years and might not even really remember what it’s like to be starting out,” says Russo, a healthcare fraud prosecutor in Denver. “It’s different for that advice to come from us, from our peers.”

Kerbis, a civil litigation associate at Condon & Cook in Chicago, adds that while many young lawyers are podcasting for business development, this show explicitly benefits young lawyers. 

Young Lawyer Rising features stories and experiences each month from everyday lawyers discussing issues that impact the entire profession. Russo explains she wants to tell stories that help even one person with something they’re dealing with right now. “I’m interested in having real discussions and telling real stories about the tough issues we’re dealing with and how we can navigate those rapids and emerge on the other side stronger,” she says.

Russo won’t shy away from difficult conversations either. Topics include civility, challenges the profession throws at working parents, student debt pressures, finances, and retirement planning. An upcoming episode is featuring racism, with painful stories from those interviewed on the show. To Russo, the show creates an opportunity to share diverse voices on any number of topics, including diversity, equity and inclusion. 

“I’m a woman of color, so focusing on diversity, equity, and inclusion just some of the time isn’t possible for me because I live with these issues all day, every day,” Russo says. “I don’t get to temporarily take a break from being a woman or having brown skin, so I bring this perspective to all of the stories I tell through this podcast, not just the stories that are explicitly related to diversity, equity, and inclusion.”

Because the show is monthly, the creators ask listeners to subscribe, so they automatically receive notices once new episodes are released. 

The first two programs covered toxic people and civility and career-advancing lessons learned from the pandemic.

Young Lawyer Rising


Young Lawyer Rising


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Molly McDonough, a longtime legal affairs journalist, is a producer for the current events show "Legal Talk Today." She also is a media and content strategist with McDonough Media LLC. McDonough previously served as editor and publisher of the ABA’s flagship magazine, the "ABA Journal." She writes about access to justice at "A Just Society."