President's Message

A Better Value: ABA reinvigorates benefits for current and new members

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Robert Carlson

Photo of Bob Carlson by Tom Salyer

The American Bar Association, with an eye on a bright future, will begin introducing exciting changes starting this month as part of a new membership plan that offers greater value and significantly enhanced benefits.

For more than two years, staff and volunteers along with outside marketing experts have conducted meticulous research and developed a plan to position us to be an essential partner with our members: helping to build their practices, strengthen their networks and achieve success in their careers.

We will demonstrate that ABA membership is essential for all lawyers’ professional development and advancement. The ABA will connect with the legal community and increase awareness of the great impact the ABA has both inside and outside the legal profession.

Our new membership model consists of six key components:

New member benefits and resources: Members will be able to join the Law Practice Division and the Solo, Small Firm and General Practice Division at no additional cost. All members will have access to the content generated by both divisions, along with a wide range of premium information and CLE programs. Members will experience a newly designed ABA Career Center with greater emphasis on delivering up-to-date podcasts and webinars and will be introduced to an interview and resumé-building tool, ABA Career Forward. This benefit is offered to ABA members through Korn Ferry Advance and is designed primarily for young lawyers, solo practitioners and those looking to make a career change.

CLE marketplace: The ABA is expanding its vast selection of premier CLE programs—one of the association’s most popular benefits. Members will have access to an on-demand CLE library with more than 450 titles and growing, all available to members at no additional cost.

Content tailored for you: We will work to deliver content to you that is relevant to your practice and interests. This may include articles, digests, synopses, checklists, short videos and audio recordings. Content also will be available through multiple channels, including the ABA website, email and social media.

Members-only access: For years, much of the ABA’s information was available on our website to anyone. Now, only members will have access to a majority of ABA content. Some information will remain accessible to the public, such as the online ABA Journal and news updates, but most content will be behind a paywall and limited to dues-paying members. While only entity members will have full access to their entity content, all ABA members will have the opportunity to sample content five times a month from any ABA entity so that members can see the value in joining a section, division or forum.

Sensible dues structure: The cost of ABA membership is no longer a barrier to being an active member. The new ABA annual membership dues have been simplified to five categories: $75 for those admitted to the bar four years and less (including new members of the bar); $150 for those admitted to the bar for five to nine years, solo practitioners, small-firm members, judges, retirees, public service/government lawyers, and international (non-U.S. licensed) attorneys; $250 for those admitted to the bar 10 to 14 years; $350 for those admitted to the bar 15 to 19 years; and $450 for those admitted to the bar 20 years and more. Members belonging to more than one category will pay the lower dues rate.

Improved member experience: Our newly designed mobile-friendly website is available at We recognize that some users initially encountered technical difficulties with the website, but we have worked hard to address those problems. We know you will find an enhanced user experience with added ease of navigation.

We also have changed our logo and updated our look. But while our look may be new, our core mission remains the same. The ABA will continue to stand up for the rule of law, justice and lawyers throughout America.

The ABA is serious about showing every lawyer the value of membership. We want to communicate better with members and to give them what they want and need from an association. This new model is an important first step toward achieving that goal.

We welcome your ideas and comments.

Updated at 6:44 p.m. on April 17 to correct pricing information about the dues structure.

Follow President Carlson on Twitter @ABAPresident or email [email protected].

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