President's Letter

ABA members need to tout value, importance of bar membership

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Reginald Turner

Photo of Reginald Turner by Danny Duran

The past 18 months have tested our nation in ways not seen before. The legal profession has faced extraordinary challenges, and the American Bar Association has risen to address this unique set of circumstances.

As I finish my first two months as president, I am struck by the ABA’s reach, influence and importance to the careers and lives of attorneys. As we continue to navigate through the pandemic, the ABA has assembled useful new tools through groups such as the Coordinating Group on Practice Forward, which has provided thought leadership as well as practical tools and resources to help the legal profession transition beyond COVID-19.

As the mechanics of how we serve our clients change, the ABA remains at the forefront of innovation, providing new ideas and model rules to ensure fairness and accountability.

The association provides resources to attorneys in need through wellness programs that focus on their physical and mental health.

The ABA, through its Standing Committee on Law and National Security, addresses the issues of cybersecurity for firms.

The ABA is the leading champion for legal aid funding through our incomparable support of the Legal Services Corp., which we advocate for every day and especially on ABA Day, which is our yearly coordinated lobbying effort in April to make our voice heard in Congress. We also promote access to justice with Free Legal Answers, a virtual legal advice clinic; the Equal Justice Conference, an annual gathering of legal services and pro bono advocates to share developments in legal services to low-income people; the National Celebration of Pro Bono; and many other initiatives.

We are a leading voice on ensuring an independent judiciary has the highest professional qualifications, our justice system has sufficient court funding, and judges and court personnel are safe from harm.

We are a leading voice for criminal justice reform and an unwavering champion for the advancement of women in our profession, people of color and others from marginalized groups.

We are a bedrock of public education about the value of the rule of law through activities such as Law Day, celebrated every year on May 1. We advocate for the voiceless and the disenfranchised in our system of laws and justice.

Through the ABA Rule of Law Initiative and the Center for Human Rights, we work to ensure fundamental liberties are protected around the world.

Better together

For all the good the ABA does, none of it would be possible without you. Membership is the lifeblood of our bar association.

That is why in the year ahead, I urge you all to make a habit of reaching out and mentoring young lawyers and law students by demonstrating how bar associations make us better lawyers and fulfilled citizens who make a difference.

Therefore, I am asking: “Each one, reach one.”

Explain to attorneys you interact with the value that the ABA delivers for members, including access to quality information, professional connections and advocacy on the issues lawyers care deeply about. Tell them about the extensive library and access to quality CLE programs. Convince them that the ABA is invested in member services and development, dedicated to justice for all and critical to the protection of the profession.

Write “Each one, reach one” on your calendars. Make it part of your talk to young lawyers.

The American Bar Association is essential for lawyers and judges. As mentors, we can bring young lawyers and law students into the fold of the profession and the organized bar. There is a wealth of experience and knowledge among ABA members, and most of us are willing to lend assistance and support.

As ABA president, I realize that no one can go it alone. I stand on the shoulders of those who came before me, most notably Dennis Archer, Robert Grey, Paulette Brown and my predecessor, Trish Refo, who showed me the ropes. We owe it to the next generation of lawyers to guide and support them. Membership in the ABA is an important step in that process.

This story was originally published in the October/November 2021 issue of the ABA Journal under the headline: “Each One, Reach One: ABA members need to tout value, importance of bar membership.”

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