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What’s new in ABA membership?

Michael Dumas
Michael Dumas talks with ABA representatives during training at the 2015 ABA Annual Meeting.

Membership in the ABA – aside from being law students, it is what we all have in common. We all came to the ABA through different means, whether it was from signing up with ABA Reps during the school year, joining on our own, or perhaps even because our school enrolled the entire student body. Regardless of how we got here, we each have at our fingertips a wealth of professional development, networking, and educational tools.

The past bar year has seen dramatic changes – some of which we will touch upon – and still more changes are on the horizon.

Last year at this time, the ABA had a little over 41,000 law student members. At the time, that number represented a significant increase in membership in its own right. Now, we stand more than 72,000 members strong, and growing. That significant jump was the result of free membership for all law students.

But what else do the numbers show? It simply is not good enough for us to have more members if our members are not actively engaged. Thankfully, we’ve seen a large uptick in the number of entity memberships from 128,000 to 154,000  –  in other words, more students are signing up to be involved with ABA practice groups such as Litigation, Criminal Justice, and Business Law.

For us as your Law Student Division leadership, our goal has been to encourage more of you to find what interests you in the ABA, and dig into it – and it seems to be working.

Part of what makes the ABA so valuable is the ability for students and lawyers alike to find their particular area of legal interest, find other like-minded students and attorneys, and then network and engage with them. The other leaders and I have been working tirelessly with those practice groups to encourage them to take the first step in engaging you, and those who follow will continue to do so.

One of the best ways to make those valuable one-to-one professional contacts is by making them in-person. We are working harder to make sure that when ABA entities have conferences, panels, and lunches in your neighborhood, they are reaching-out to your school and inviting those who are interested.

At this year’s Annual meeting, we will be rolling-out a new law student engagement handbook which stresses exactly that, and more. So if you are in places such as Boston, Albuquerque, Cincinnati, Chicago, Washington, and beyond, the ABA will be coming to town, and you can expect an invitation to attend.

So that is where we currently sit for membership, but what can you expect in the future? As you may have heard, our premium membership is launching very soon. While all law students can still enjoy free membership, which allows you access to five free ABA entity memberships and a free three-month membership to Quimbee, our new premium level of membership will offer you additional benefits beyond anything we have ever offered.

In the past, students balked at joining the ABA because we didn’t provide value. Few students are interested in saving money on a new Mercedes-Benz while they are piling-up mountains of student debt. With the launch of our premium membership level, we will be offering you exclusive benefits that are finally relevant!

For only $25 per year, you will receive a free ABA Model Rules of Professional Conduct, a free Quimbee Legal Ethics Online Course, and finally, our cornerstone benefit: exclusive savings on bar review courses, on top of any additional discounts you may be receiving!

The Law Student Division, and ABA staff, have worked tirelessly to bring you these benefits.

Our commitment to you has been simple: deliver a product that helps you now as a student, while at the same time prepares you for a lifelong legal career. Belonging to the ABA should not be something that you do because everyone else does it; it should provide you with value, and it should meet your expectations.

Beyond simply providing you with free books and discounts, I encourage you to make the ABA what you want it to be. The ABA offers you a diverse group of professionals who practice in all corners of the law. Whether you attend meetings in person, watch webinars, take a leadership role, or simply come for the networking, I would like to extend a personal invitation to you to explore the ABA.

If you are not sure where to start, seem lost in the maze of sections, forums, and committees, or just have questions about the ABA, there is no shortage of dedicated student leaders, staff, and attorneys ready to help you start your journey with the ABA.

Michael Dumas Michael Dumas is the Vice Chair of the ABA Law Student Division. He is a 2016 graduate of the University of Maine School of Law in Portland, Maine. He will be working as an assistant district attorney for the State of Maine, pending bar passage.