President's Message

A Dividend on Your Investment: Free CLE Credits Make ABA Membership Even More Valuable

Posted Feb 1, 2012 5:40 AM CDT
By Wm. T. (Bill) Robinson III

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When I joined the American Bar Association in 1972, I knew my membership would help me identify important trends in the legal profession and connect with other lawyers around the country. Thirty-nine years later, membership in the ABA continues to provide enormous benefits for me personally and professionally.

More than ever, the legal profession faces unique challenges. Our system of justice is woefully underfunded. Our profession has more eager applicants than available traditional jobs. Technology is helping us work more efficiently but poses great risk for confidentiality and security. We know for certain that many aspects of the practice of law in 2020 will not look anything like the practice of law in 2000.

Your membership in the ABA is not taken for granted by the association or its leadership. We recognize that we must provide value for your investment in your career and for your investment in us, including insight into how the profession is changing, and what you can do to prepare for and keep up with those changes.

In November, the ABA launched a new program that offers continuing legal education to members. This CLE Premier Speaker Series offers up to 18 free credits each year through monthly programs featuring leading legal practitioners. It is exclusively available to you, our ABA members, as a tangible benefit that only you can enjoy.

More than 3,200 members registered for the first edition of the series held four months ago, which discussed the challenges of trying high-profile cases. The two events held since then, which featured webinars on public speaking in and out of court and the future of class action lawsuits, were equally successful.

One participant said, “I just love the fact that the ABA is making it easier to complete CLEs by offering these webinars and that they are offering one a month for free. For us newer attorneys, the ability to just drop money on CLE courses is not an easy thing—so this really helps.”

Another said: “The ability to acquire CLEs from the ABA and at the same time gain knowledge in areas I do not practice is a benefit which motivates me to continue membership year to year.”

ABA leadership and management recognize that continuing legal education is one of the most important benefits we can offer our members. Our CLE program is widely recognized for its exceptional quality and faculty, and the 18 hours annually provided in our CLE Premier Speaker Series should be enough to fill almost any lawyer’s yearly mandatory CLE requirements.

The ABA is dedicated to helping you become a better lawyer. We are also dedicated to advancing the legal profession as a whole. Equally important, we are dedicated to listening to you. This exclusive, complimentary CLE benefit is just one of many recent changes we have implemented in response to your ideas and comments.

Lawyers are lifetime students. The law itself is always changing, and so are the clients we represent and the cases we argue. We hope this new CLE Premier Speaker Series will provide you, our members, with another opportunity for lifelong learning and a valuable tool for professional development.

If you have an idea for a CLE Premier Speaker Series event, please contact Earnestine Murphy, our associate director of programming, at earnestine.murphy@americanbar.org.

Wm. T. (Bill) Robinson III, Frost Brown Todd LLC, is a civil litigator and member-in-charge of FBT’s office in Florence, Ky., and also has an office with FBT in Cincinnati.

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