Midyear Meeting

Jack Rives touts cost-cutting progress in final House address as ABA executive director

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Jack Rives waves to the audience at the House of Delegates meeting

Jack Rives (center) is stepping down as executive director in February after nearly 13 years at the ABA. (Photo by ©Kathy Anderson)

In his final speech to the ABA House of Delegates, Jack Rives thanked the leaders of the association for the trust and confidence they placed in him for almost 13 years.

“This is my 26th and final opportunity to address members of the House of Delegates,” said Rives, who has served as the ABA’s executive director since May 2010. “I remember my first time in 2010 in San Francisco, I looked out at a large room of primarily unfamiliar but friendly faces. Today I am looking out at a room full of primarily familiar—and thankfully, friendly appearing—faces.”

Rives highlighted some of the ABA’s accomplishments during his tenure, including the new membership model. He said the new model has reversed the longstanding trend of substantial losses of dues-paying members, and that number has stabilized at about 170,000.

“The American Bar Association is the world’s largest voluntary professional association of attorneys,” he said.

Among other accomplishments in the past 10 years, Rives noted the ABA has reduced its annual general operations spending by 49%; increased its staff size by 25%; and is on track to spend more than $100 million in grant-funded work. In comparison, in fiscal year 2010, the ABA spent about $37 million on domestic and international grant programs, he said.

Follow along with the ABA Journal’s coverage of the 2023 ABA Midyear Meeting here.

Rives announced last year that he would leave the ABA at the end of February. He encouraged House members to continue addressing the association’s challenges, including how to increase membership and embrace technology.

“People occasionally ask if it’s going to be difficult for me to move on,” said Rives, who received a standing ovation. “The answer is yes. It will be difficult to move on … and that’s because of the people in this room.”

See also:

Video: Jack Rives speaks to the House of Delegates (Feb. 6, 2023)

ABA Journal: “Reflections of an Executive Director: Jack Rives says farewell”

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