President's Message

Working together to succeed: ABA pursues team effort to develop new models and enhance existing programs

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Robert Carlson

Photo of Robert Carlson courtesy of the Office of the President

Serving as president of the American Bar Association is an honor and a privilege. Most of all, it provides an opportunity to deliver a clear, concise and consistent message about the value and importance of the ABA to the legal community and beyond.

As a member since law school, I have witnessed firsthand the positive impact the ABA has on the lives of so many in the legal profession and our justice system. The ABA is really a family, a community of members with shared values. We work together because we recognize the vital role the ABA plays to improve the profession and promote the rule of law. As president, I want to deliver the message that the ABA, as the voice of the legal profession, is essential to all lawyers.

My year as president will be more of a relay than a sprint, building on all the progress and good works of my predecessors.

Like all bar associations today, the ABA is faced with evolving membership needs and technological changes in how we communicate and connect with members. We are responding to those challenges aggressively. We are also committed to working together with state, local and other bar associations to meet these challenges.

Our focus moving forward will be to increase the value of membership in the ABA and offer our members significantly enhanced benefits. As the legal profession evolves, we want to make the ABA an essential partner, working alongside you to help build your practice.

I am guessing you did not know the ABA produces nearly 5,000 articles, blogs and notes each year relating to the concerns of practicing lawyers. We want to make sure you have an opportunity to access more of what you need when you need it.

To accomplish this, we are expanding our library of free CLEs and will provide material to each member based on their specific interests and needs. We are redesigning our website and mobile platform and making it faster and easier for you to get ABA products and register for meetings online. The goal is to improve the experience of each member.

We are expanding ABA Blueprint for the vast majority of lawyers who practice in solo and small firms. I practice in a small firm and I can tell you, Blueprint is worth exploring. You’ll be glad you did.

We also are addressing your bottom line. To eliminate the confusing mix of price points for an ABA membership, we have dramatically streamlined our dues structure.

In addition to our new and improved benefits, we will continue to advance the ABA’s leadership in many areas, including:

  • Addressing the well-being of lawyers and law students. To be a good lawyer, you must first be a healthy lawyer.
  • Making practical changes to legal education and the bar admission process.
  • Continuing to move the needle on ensuring access to justice. Far too many people are not afforded the legal assistance they need, and the consequences can be dire.
  • Promoting a strong, independent and impartial judiciary and a fair justice system.
  • Furthering pro bono service by lawyers. During Pro Bono Week this October, we are encouraging pro bono efforts that focus on disaster relief legal services.
  • Building on the ABA’s legacy of advancing diversity within its membership and throughout the legal profession.

This is a “we” undertaking. ABA members need to deliver the message that ABA membership is important and valuable. As famed industrialist Henry Ford said, “Coming together is a beginning; staying together is progress and working together is success.”

As I follow outgoing President Hilarie Bass into office, the big tent of the ABA is on full display. What other organization would have a lawyer from a small firm in Butte, Montana, follow a Miami-based co-president of one of the world’s largest firms as its leader?

We thank Hilarie for her tireless efforts to improve the ABA and the legal profession. I have big shoes to fill, but with the help of all our wonderful members, I am positive we can all move forward. The power of “we” can be a formidable force.


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

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