Officially Speaking: Take Advantage of the Opportunities Before You

Vol. 39 No. 5

By

The New Year is here and with it is the start of a new chapter in your life. If you are like most people who make resolutions, you know those things that need changing in your life. For law students, it may be preparing better for class, progressively developing your course outlines, or laying the foundation for that job search. Whatever the case may be, take some time to reflect on the past year and make a decision to be committed to your professional self this year.

Whether you’re approaching graduation or finishing your first year, the ABA has vast resources and opportunities available to you.

Advancing your career is a big part of being a member of the ABA Law Student Division, which offers a variety of development opportunities that will help you get ahead. You’ll get real-world experience that sharpens your abilities and begins to shape your career as a lawyer.

Network with Legal Experts and Law Students. Making connections within the legal community and law schools across the country is easy. Simply join and get involved in one of the ABA’s 30-plus sections, divisions, and forums that focus on specific practice areas of law such as antitrust law, business law, family law, intellectual property law, and tax law, to name only a few. You’ll have an opportunity to expand your knowledge in these specialty areas by participating in events, committees, and discussions where you will rub elbows with legal experts. All of the ABA sections offer special rates for law students—with 21 offering free membership! Learn more at www.abanetfor
lawstudents.org.

If you have joined a section but haven’t actively become involved, make a decision to do so. Many of the sections have specific law student outreach committees or provide opportunities for law student participation on the committees that house lawyers, judges, and other legal professionals. Being a part of the ABA and the sections gives law students national access to these individuals online or in-person. Plenty of law students are taking advantage of these opportunities and benefiting greatly from the access to information while landing internships or clerkships and building friendships and business contacts with other ABA members.

Take the Lead. Speaking of leaders, perhaps you should consider
applying for one of the 100-plus leadership opportunities in the Division at the local, regional, and national levels. These positions foster personal and professional development, including chances to network with lawyers and law students from across the country. Keep in mind that leadership experience also speaks volumes to many employers. Paul Edger, my fellow member of the Division’s Board of Governors, shares his insights as well as some interesting feedback from past Division leaders on how their ABA leadership experience made favorable impressions on their employers. (See page 82.)

Check out a Meeting. If nothing else, make a commitment to attend a meeting and check things out for yourself. The Division’s 15 regional circuits will be meeting across the county in February and March. This is a perfect opportunity to meet and make connections with other law students from your region. The meetings provide career and legal development discussions, roundtable discussions for student leaders and aspiring leaders, and opportunities to meet and network with ABA lawyer members in the region. At a minimum, you will meet some interesting people—but more likely you will also walk away with some valuable professional career information and some contacts for your own legal network.

Joining and participating in the ABA is a critical step in your legal career. These are just some of the ways that you can make the ABA work for you. So make that New Year’s resolution to make the most of your ABA membership—you’ll see what a difference this year makes.

Happy New Year!

Stephanie McCoy Loquvam is the vice chair of the Sandra Day O’Connor College of Law, Arizona State University.

 

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