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Thursday, September 22, 2011

Top 5 Reasons to Join a Bar Association

What does joining a bar association have to do with my job search?
Many law students and recent graduates do not realize that participation in a local or specialty bar association is an important part of any job search. Becoming a bar association member and participating in events (i.e., committee involvement and continuing legal education classes) is an excellent way to make connections with the local legal community, build a network, and learn more about a particular practice area. Here are five reasons to join one today.

1. Build your network. Now, more than ever, networking is a key component to finding a job. If you do not come from a family of lawyers, are new to the area, or are just looking to meet attorneys who specialize in a particular area of law, a bar association is a perfect place to make connections. Bar activities such as section meetings, mentor programs, and social events provide excellent opportunities to meet lawyers and get your name circulating in the legal community.
2. Expand your knowledge. Bar associations offer a variety of educational programs including round table discussions, symposiums, panels, and free or discounted continuing legal education (CLE) classes. Participating in these events is also another opportunity to network and show future employers you are sincere about your interest in a particular field.
3. Gain access to members-only resources. Many bar associations offer student members access to their bulletins, membership directories, job postings, and other resources not available to non-members. Benefits to becoming a member also include discounts on a wide variety of services – anything from car rentals to CLE courses.
4. Stay informed. Newsletters, symposiums and other bar association activities keep you up to date on the latest news and developments within the legal community. If you are searching for a job out of state, joining a local bar association is a great way to learn more about that state’s legal community and any growing fields of practice particular to the area.
5. Show your professionalism. Joining a bar association as a law student or recent graduate demonstrates your commitment to becoming lawyer. Becoming active in sections or other activities not only builds your leadership skills but also increases your visibility as a responsible member of the legal community – something that will pay off for years to come.

Most bar associations encourage student involvement and offer free or heavily discounted membership fees to students and newly admitted attorneys. 2012 students should also note that New England Law has partnered with the Boston Bar Association (BBA) to provide all students in the Class of 2012 with a one-year membership to the BBA.

Massachusetts Bar Assocations:
Boston Bar Association
Student Membership: $65; Free to Class of 2012
Essex County Bar Association
Student Membership: $45, Open to students who either reside or work in Essex County only.
Massachusetts Bar Association
Student Membership: $35
Norfolk County Bar Association
Worcester County Bar Association

Specialty & Diversity Associations:
Asian American Lawyers Association of Massachusetts
Student Membership: Free
Boston Patent Law Association
Student Membership: $105
Massachusetts Association of Hispanic Attorneys
Student Membership: Free
Massachusetts Black Lawyers Association
Student Membership: Free
Massachusetts Lesbian and Gay Bar Association
Student Membership: Free
Real Estate Bar Association for Massachusetts
Women’s Bar Association of Massachusetts
Student Membership: $25

Additional local and specialty bar associations may be found on the Massachusetts Bar Association website.

Searching for a job outside of Massachusetts? Find an out of state bar association.

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