New Year, Bright Future: The ABA improves the legal profession and serves its members
As we embark on a new year, our thoughts turn to the future. Where is our profession headed? What new challenges will our justice system face? What is the future of legal education? Whatever questions arise, we know that the American Bar Association will lead.
As we prepare to meet our challenges, I remain confident in our association’s success because it is constructed on a sound foundation.
The ABA is the voice of America’s legal profession. In that role, it develops model rules and guidelines, advocates for legislation and policies critical to our profession and justice system, and speaks out when lawyers or the justice system are under threat.
As a nonpartisan organization, the ABA represents a diverse membership that does not agree on every issue. ABA leadership welcomes all lawyers and strives to accommodate the views of our more than 400,000 members. Our big tent is our strength.
Since 1936, our House of Delegates—a body of approximately 550 elected delegates who represent every state bar as well as larger local bars, ABA sections and divisions, and other national legal organizations—has met twice a year to create policies for the association. Policy is adopted after thorough and constructive debate. Each issue receives a full hearing where all sides can be heard. Any ABA member can engage in the process and put forth a resolution. Every member has a voice.
The ABA Board of Governors, with 44 members, meets four times a year. It has the authority to act and speak for the ABA, consistent with previous action of the House of Delegates, when the House is not in session. The Board, which is divided into various committees, discusses long-range priorities, evaluates programming, and encourages collaborative and innovative programs among association entities. It also develops policies to ensure the prudent financial management of ABA resources.
At our most recent Board of Governors meeting in November, we engaged in a planning session to set criteria about how the ABA would allocate resources moving forward to ensure a healthy future. I am confident our future is bright.
The ABA will continue our work to ensure everyone has access to justice. Through our Governmental Affairs Office, we will make our voice heard and our positions known to policymakers. Through our Rule of Law Initiative and other international programs, the ABA will promote justice around the world.
Of course, the ABA’s reach goes much farther. We improve the profession through activities ranging from promoting diversity and inclusion to supporting pro bono work.
Ultimately, we improve the profession by serving our members. We provide valuable resources like marketing, managing law practices, and getting ahead of what’s new in technology. There is nothing wrong with looking at the ABA and asking, “What’s in it for me?” Fighting for the rule of law and access to justice are vital goals, but discounts and ways to improve a lawyer’s life and practice serve an important role as well.
The ABA has more than 3,500 entities that specialize in various areas of the law. No matter your interest, the ABA has a group for you. For law students and young lawyers, we provide opportunities to network or to find a niche. The ABA offers more than a thousand hours of continuing legal education, many free or at discounted prices. This is just one area where ABA members reap benefits from the association. We also provide member discounts on services from rental cars to refinancing student loans. You can find all these at www.ambar.org/membership.
Our new ABA Blueprint program offers small-firm and solo practitioners administrative assistance in running their firms, leaving them more time to do what they entered the profession to do: practice law. ABA Blueprint offers resources from practice management software to health insurance and everything in between. Check it out at www.abablueprint.com.
As 2017 begins, we are ready to face the future. For lawyers and law students, ABA membership means having your voice heard and making your work more productive. Won’t you ask your friends and colleagues to join us?