Bar associations suffer from a lack of interest from the greater legal community. People don’t sign up for events. Often, it’s because they “cost too much.” I’m not buying it anymore and, frankly, I’m kind of sick of hearing it. I have become extremely active in quite a few bar associations in Boston, and the value they offer their members is tremendous.The outlay of some money to come to events and be active in your community, comes back to you in spades.
To those of you on the fence about joining bar associations or who say things like “_____ bar association” does nothing for me, I say to you, “well, you’re probably doing nothing for the bar association.” Bar associations thrive on the energy of their members. If you’re not excited about it, and putting energy into it, you are not going to get much out of it. It’s a symbiotic relationship. If, however, you give it your time and energy, you will benefit from increased visibility and involvement and you’ll be plugged into a group of people who have contact with clients from all walks of life, many of whom, at some point or another, will need a lawyer.
Networking is, after all, all about making lasting relationships. Bar associations help you achieve that goal, but only if you commit. If you walk into a bar association event expecting it to just all click into place, you’ve got it all wrong. You get back what you put in.
Let me take a turn to finish up this rant. And direct my frustration at certain actions of those dealing with a terrible legal economy and who are desperate to find jobs. Join bar associations! Don’t cold call and cold email, just join bar associations and go to events. Network like you have never networked before, but do it in an environment where you are an accepted member of the community. Why does this not catch on??? Although I kind of hesitate to put this in writing, I will do it nonetheless. I have noticed a certain amount of laziness in my peers. Desperate and unhappy though they may be, there is an undercurrent, an attitude, that it is others who must do the work for them. “What will the bar association do for me?” I hear this way too much.
Turn that question around and ask yourself what you can do for a bar association? I feel myself channeling President Kennedy here, but the point is a valid one. If you become an active, important and visible member of a particular committee, people will notice you. You will be recognized for your hard work and good ideas. You will hear about job openings. And you will be surrounded by a terrific, successful group of people who have seen what you can do and are ready to give you a recommendation or, better yet, a job.