chevron-down Created with Sketch Beta.
July 22, 2022 Vol. 47, No. 6

Allow me to reintroduce myself—and your Division for Bar Services

By Jennifer Lewin

Jennifer Lewin was named director of the ABA Division for Bar Services in May 2022, having previously served as deputy director.

New ABA Division for Bar Services Director Jennifer Lewin

New ABA Division for Bar Services Director Jennifer Lewin

Back in 1997, I made what turned out to be a fortuitous career shift. After three years in grad school, I realized that an academic career was not for me. So, I quit my PhD program and took a job in the ABA Division for Bar Services as I figured out my next move. I vividly remember saying to my husband and friends that this was my transition job.

In a way, I was right: Twenty-five years later, I’m still here, but transition has been a constant theme in our work. It’s fascinating to reflect on conversations we were having years ago about the future of the profession and how we’ve watched many of those changes come to pass—some slowly, some virtually overnight during the pandemic. The work has been challenging, exhilarating and never the same.

Through all of this, I’m gratified that I still call Bar Services my professional home. During my 25 years at the ABA, I’ve had the great fortune of working with smart and talented bar leaders from around the country. And what a gift to work with former Bar Services luminaries like Roseanne Lucianek, Elizabeth Derrico and Pamela Robinson, who continue to be extraordinary mentors and friends. I’m grateful for the opportunity to follow in their footsteps. They helped create a terrific culture of service, creativity and excellence—one that continues to this day.

Other colleagues, whether our current division staff or the many talented professionals who have come and gone over the years, have contributed to this culture. Everyone quickly picked up on our commitment and invested themselves in finding new ways to serve you better.

Over the years, I’ve had the privilege of talking strategy with many of you to chart your organizations’ paths forward. We’ve challenged each other to think differently about what’s possible within our bars and in the profession. Our bars are experimenting and have moved the needle on so many tough issues—access to legal services; diversity, equity and inclusion; member engagement; and the rule of law and support for our institutions. These conversations are serving me well as Bar Services thinks strategically about its own future—about how the pandemic has changed us and our work, and where the new opportunities lie, even amidst the many challenges. Listening to our own advice, we’re taking a moment to reflect on who we serve, what outcomes we most want to achieve, and how we go about it.

As we start that process, we’ve focused most on the values and mindsets we want to embody as we carry out our work. Given the dedication of our staff, I know our re-commitment to the following ideas will be evident:

  • being your responsive staff at the ABA,
  • being sources of knowledge that save you time and lighten your load,
  • being problem solvers who start from a place of “yes,”
  • bringing exceptional learning experiences that both stretch your thinking and provide you with practical tools, and
  • keeping ourselves and you on the leading edge of news and developments in the bar and legal landscape to help our bars better anticipate, make decisions and lead.

I look forward to reconnecting with many of you this August at the ABA Annual Meeting. Please don’t hesitate to pull me aside if you have feedback about how we can better support you and your bar. You can always email me at [email protected]. No one said transition is comfortable, but I’m excited to continue walking with you as we all discover—and help shape—what’s next.

The material in all ABA publications is copyrighted and may be reprinted by permission only. Request reprint permission here.