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So you want to be an ABA delegate? Here’s what it’s like.

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Andrew Rhoden

The Law Student Division is currently looking to fill our final four board positions for 2016-2017: Vice Chair of Student Bar Associations and our three delegates to the ABA House of Delegates. Let’s focus on that last one for a bit.

It’s a position that puts you into contact with the ABA’s House of Delegates, the policy-making body of the American Bar Association The House meets twice a year, at annual and midyear. But a lot of lobbying and communication goes on between events to talk with other delegates about issues that pertain to our law student members.

But that’s just part of the duties of our delegates. In the latest Student Lawyer magazine, delegate Andrew Rhoden talked about his experiences this year as one of our three delegates:


 

Get involved, they say! It’ll be good for your career—and it’ll be fun!

If you’ve heard that recommendation and been wondering what volunteering for an ABA role might involve, I can offer insights based on my position as a 2015-2016 delegate.

How did I get involved? Entering law school, I wanted to find an organization and position where I could make a difference.

I first found my answer through my school’s Student Bar Association, where I got elected as the 1L representative. I accomplished significant improvements at the law school, in its policies, within the community, and by helping my peers.

However, I realized school-related positions limited my impact to the school and local community only. I found myself wanting to make more of a substantial change throughout the country that would benefit current and future law students. All my mentors referred me to the same source: the ABA.

By attending a number of ABA conferences, in particular the Health Law annual conference, I soon realized working with ABA entities would provide me a way to achieve my larger goal of helping law students on a national scale. Members of the Health Law Section provided me the guidance and motivation to pursue being a delegate.

One of my primary responsibilities as a delegate is to oversee the law student liaisons for the different ABA entities. It’s essential that liaisons do their job because they serve as the point persons the ABA entities rely on to create opportunities for law students. It’s also common for a number of law students to contact me regularly to ask how they can get involved in the ABA or find a men-tor. Overall, being a delegate has added about 10-15 hours of work a week to my current schedule.

Since being elected in August, I’ve built relationships with directors, chairs, and program coordinators in both the Chicago and Washington, D.C., ABA offices. Because of these relationships, students have been able to attend conferences for free or reduced prices and have been able to volunteer with various ABA entities. A number of students have walked away from these events with job interviews and opportunities that wouldn’t have been available if they hadn’t taken advantage of the opportunity to get involved. These tasks aren’t in my job description, but I took on this position to make a difference and provide opportunities and have been happy to help where I could.

If you’re interested in providing opportunities for law students and making a difference, you should seek to become a delegate. It’s not a position for which you’ll receive a lot of glory or credit. But you’ll get great personal satisfaction.

I’ve challenged the liaisons to create a student committee for each ABA entity. Once created, students who are passionate about a certain area of law will have the opportunity to take on a pivotal role in that entity. If an individual gets a job or an interview or learns from the experience, I’ll view the committee as a success. Other initiatives on my agenda for the year include increasing diversity, strengthening women’s rights, addressing disparity in the grading system, and improving mental health initiatives.

Contact me at AndrewRhodenABA@gmail.co… if I can help you or you’re interested in working with one of the ABA entities.

Andrew Rhoden is a student at the American University Washington College of Law and a Delegate of the ABA Law Student Division; ABA Legal Intern Board Member, and the ABA Section of Civil Rights and Social Justice law student liaison.

ABA Law Student Division The Law Student Division empowers law student by providing them with meaningful connections to practicing professionals, job resources, relevant programming, and practical skills competitions. We represent the law student community by advocating for policies that improve legal education, champion diversity, and strengthen public service.