Posted Nov 25, 2004 06:34 am CST
The American Bar Association continues to be the largest professional membership organization in the world. As of Aug. 31, 2004, the last day of the past association year, ABA membership reached 405,348.
The ABA records its official membership each year on the last day of the association year as it is on that day that it can be determined how many members joined or continued their memberships and paid their dues for the year.
This year’s total was an increase over the 2003 membership total and was the eighth time in the past nine years that membership has increased over the prior year’s numbers. Here are the numbers:
Law Student 50,738
This membership result is very encouraging for many reasons. First, the past year was a dues-increase year, and consultant studies had predicted a probable membership decline in a dues-increase year. It is very exciting to have a membership increase in a dues-increase year.
Further, membership growth is contrary to the trend in many large professional membership organizations. Powerful sociological forces are causing membership to decline in many associations and group activities–in the United States and worldwide–as detailed in the best-selling book by Robert D. Putnam, Bowling Alone. Overcoming these forces and remaining one of the few large professional membership organizations to experience membership growth should be a source of pride to all ABA members.
It is also younger people, who are supposed to be less likely to join, who are coming to the ABA in force. Our law student membership is up to a new all-time record high of 50,738, our 10th consecutive annual increase in this category. This is excellent news for future lawyer membership because we know that lawyers who were members while in law school are much more likely to join after admission to the bar and to remain members of the ABA for their entire legal careers.
Our 405,348 members join the ABA for numerous reasons, including award- winning publications and continuing legal education seminars, as well as the excellent benefits and services we provide. More than ever, the association is called upon to demonstrate its relevance to lawyers through its representation of the profession in addressing important public policy issues.
The ABA has never been more relevant to the development of important public policies than it has been in recent years. Many of the critical issues of the times are constitutional and legal issues, and the association has been active in the national dialogue over issues such as the appropriate balance between strong anti-terror measures and protection of our nation’s cherished civil liberties.
Our strong ABA membership brings the wealth of talent of the legal profession to the numerous issues facing the profession and the public. Members contribute hundreds of thousands of volunteer hours to the public service work of the association. From providing assistance to victims of hurricanes and other natural disasters to ensuring access to justice regardless of income to enhancing the jury system and providing legal technical assistance throughout the world to help other nations develop the rule of law, ABA members are engaged. Clearly, the ABA’s annual budgets of more than $175 million would be many times greater if dollar values were assigned to the uncompensated hours contributed by its members.
Congratulations to our excellent Standing Committee on Membership and Marketing, chaired this year by Maury Poscover of St. Louis, and to the superb staff of our Membership Department, headed by Diane Bruhl, director, for their outstanding work that produced these extraordinary results.
The sections of the ABA provide a “home” for our members. On the next page (Sidebar on the Web) are the section, division and forum membership totals for 2004.