7 Major Benefits of Bar Association Membership for Your Job Search
A bar association is a professional organization composed of your peers; your participation in the group can change your career for the better. It can also make your job search more effective.
Bar association membership should be required upon bar admission so that every lawyer joins a national, state, or local bar association.
Membership in a bar association greatly assists in the professional networking every attorney needs to succeed in their legal careers and is even more important when conducting a job search. Because of this boost in professional networking, some law schools and law firms pay for membership in the bar association of one's choice. I suggest you find out if your school or firm offers that benefit and take advantage of that opportunity.
You already know you have to network to succeed in your job search. A bar association enables you to network while you are learning more about your profession, gaining required skills and Continuing Legal Education (CLE) credits, and mentoring new attorneys.
There are countless bar associations for affinity groups including groups for women, Asian Americans, lawyers with disabilities, minority lawyers, GBLT attorneys and more. Many, if not all of these associations, admit law student members, so even those of you just beginning your legal career can take advantage of membership.
[See Job-Hunt's Directory of Law, Law Enforcement, and Law-Related Professional Associations and Societies for links to over 100 groups for attorneys, including professional associations for lawyers and attorneys, state bar associations (and city, when available) with their job boards as well as women's bar associations by state (and city, when available).]
If you are thinking of switching careers, want to learn more about a complimentary practice area, or simply want to meet other lawyers, joining a bar association is a wonderful way to boost your practice, gain access to otherwise costly resources, and contribute to your profession.
Job Search Benefits of Membership
Here are some of the benefits available to bar association members that are especially relevant to job seekers:
Most bar associations have numerous committees. Take advantage of the networking opportunities not only in your practice area but also in areas of outside interest. Learn how others generate business.
If you are getting back into the profession or changing practice areas, learn what the most current news in your industry is. The people who would have been interviewing you are now your fellow committee members and colleagues.
- Resume building
There are small firm resources should you decide to practice law on your own. Many lawyers continue to practice after a layoff so that they keep their skills fresh while they continue to search for a job.
If you would prefer to volunteer while you search for a job, there are pro bono opportunities available. Make sure to add that experience to your resume and LinkedIn profile.
- Leads for jobs and business
Bar associations have online job boards and lawyer referral services available.
- Learning opportunities
Programs are offered frequently on a variety of job search topics as well as particular practice areas.
- Work space
If you do not want to conduct your job search from your home or a coffee shop and you want to feel like the professional you are, go to your local bar association, and use their space. The New York City Bar Association building is The House of the Association, and it truly feels like home. Many bar associations have similar space within which you can work, learn, and be a lawyer whether you are employed or not.
- CLE credits are required to maintain admission to the bar and the classes can be expensive. As a bar association member CLE costs are lower.
- Free law library and internet access enables you to do job search and pre-interview research for free as well as print your job search documents.
- There are discounts on bar review courses for those of you starting your career and on financial services, office products, and legal software for all members.
- If you need to rent a car to get to an interview, there are discounts available for that as well.
- Medical insurance
Bar associations offer health insurance and a list of other similar benefits. This can be especially helpful if you are between jobs and need the insurance coverage.
Full disclosure, I am the Chair of the Law Student Perspectives Committee (LSP) and a former member of the Career Advancement and Management Committee (CAM) at the New York City Bar Association.
Bar associations offer resources for lawyers at every stage of their career and during every job transition. While you are looking for a job, the networking and professional development opportunities available at your local bar association are yours with membership.
© 2011, Jessica Silverstein. All rights reserved. Used with permission.
About This Author:
Jessica Silverstein is a lawyer and former legal recruiter. As Principal of Attorney's Counsel she writes and revises resumes, cover letters, and LinkedIn profiles. Currently, she counsels attorneys regarding their job prospects, and how their interview skills and resumes can be used as an effective tool to reach their career goals. Contact her through her website, Attorney's Counsel or her blog AttorneysCounselNY.com . Find Jessica on LinkedIn Linkedin.com/in/AttorneysCounselNY and tell her why you should connect. Follow her on Twitter @AttysCounsel, and feel free to contact her via email at JesEsq [at] AttorneysCounselNY.com.
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