The question I get most often from relatively new Forum members is: “How do I get more involved?” As a long-term Forum member, it’s easy to forget how it felt to be new to this amazing organization. Over years of Forum involvement, many of us have developed deep, meaningful professional and personal relationships. To the new attendee at a Forum meeting, this group of several hundred people, all of whom seem to know each other, can be daunting. We have taken a number of steps to make new members feel welcome and get off to a good start. At our national meetings, we have a designated gathering of new attendees, and those who have not attended in some time, where we provide an overview of the Forum and access to Forum leadership. We are also working on several initiatives to clarify the opportunities available for Forum involvement. Whether you’re contemplating Forum membership, are new to the Forum, or have simply reached a point in your career where you’re ready to get more involved, I’m going to provide a simple three-step guide for you to get the ball rolling.
Step 1: Join the ABA
I know this sounds obvious, but a number of attendees at Forum national meetings are not ABA members. This is not necessarily a bad thing, because it is evidence that construction lawyers are aware of the Forum and see value in the education, networking and other activities provided. As an ABA entity, membership in the ABA is a prerequisite to Forum membership. In the past, the cost of joining the ABA may have been a deterrent for those who were primarily interested in the Forum. However, effective May 2019, the ABA simplified its membership dues structure to five price points. I’d encourage you to check out www.americanbar.org — you may find that your ABA membership is more affordable than it was in the past.
Step 2: Join the Forum
As an ABA member, joining the Forum is easy and very affordable (currently $60 per year). Joining the Forum opens the door to discounts on Forum publications, CLE offerings, and access to a number of free construction law resources. The return on your investment will be much greater than $60.
Step 3: Join a Division (or several) and Get Plugged In!
Now that we’ve covered the basics, the most important action for you to take is to join one of the Forum’s fourteen (14) divisions. The Forum’s divisions were created to focus on a particular substantive topic or the interests of various participants within the construction industry. Here’s a list of the Forum divisions: Division 1 (Litigation & Dispute Resolution); Division 2 (Contract Documents); Division 3 (Design); Division 4 (Project Delivery and Construction Technology); Division 5 (General Contractors); Division 6 (Labor & Employment); Division 7 (Insurance, Surety & Liens); Division 8 (International Construction); Division 9 (Subcontractors & Suppliers); Division 10 (Transportation, Energy & Environment); Division 11 (In-House Counsel); Division 12 (Owners & Project Finance); Division 13 (Government Construction); and YLD (Young Lawyers Division). To learn more about what each division is doing, visit the Division Corner page on Under Construction Online at www.ambar.org/FCLUC.
If you are a construction lawyer, I’m certain that one or more of the divisions are relevant to your practice. There is no limit to the number of divisions you are allowed to join. The divisions are truly “the lifeblood of the Forum.” Opportunities for writing, speaking, program coordination, special committee membership, and any other Forum initiatives, are first published through the divisions. If you want to be involved in the Forum, the most effective step you can take is to join a division so that you are in the communication loop. No more excuses! Join a division and get involved to extract maximum value from your Forum membership!