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How to Advance in the Section

There is no magic formula for advancement in the Section nor is there a specific process to be followed. The best way to advance in Section leadership is to get involved and make yourself a productive member. The majority of Section leaders have advanced through involvement in the Section’s more than 50 Committees and Task Forces. These Committees and Task Forces produce CLE seminars (at the Section Annual Conference, regional specialty conferences, and other meetings), listserv communications and discussions, ABA policy recommendations, and publications such as the Year-In-Review, articles for the International Law News, and articles for The International Lawyer. This “how-to” page will suggest several ways you may get more involved in the Section and its activities.

Leadership Roles

There are many leadership roles in the Section. Current leaders, their roles, and their contact information can be found in the Leadership Directory and below:

Executive Committee
Administration Committee
Division Chairs
Committee Leaders
Task Force Chairs
Groups Reporting to the Section Chair (Nominating Committee, Planning Groups for Meetings & Programs, Award Selection):
Officer Committees Reporting to Section Officers (Finance Committee, Technology Committee, External Relations Committee, etc.)

Appointments Process

Administration Committee members, Council members, and Division Chairs are nominated by the Nominating Committee and elected by Section membership at the Section’s Annual Business Meeting held at the ABA Annual Meeting. The terms of members of the Administration Committee, Council, and Division Chairs are limited, as provided in the Section Bylaws. The Nominating Committee is chaired by the Immediate Past Chair. The other members of the Nominating Committee are the penultimate Past Chair, Chair, Chair-Elect, Vice-Chair, and two At-Large Section members appointed by the Section Chair. Persons nominated by the Nominating Committee to senior Section leadership are usually drawn from current Section leaders and other outstanding Section members who have served the Section with distinction. The Nominating Committee starts is deliberations in September for nominations for positions starting in the subsequent ABA year, and the Nominating Committee distributes a request for nominations each year, and Section members are encouraged to contact the Nominating Committee for more information.

Appointments to Committee and Task Force leadership positions, Section liaison position, and Committees directly reporting to the Section Chair are appointed by the Section Chair-Elect for the Association year (generally September 1 to August 31) in which the Chair-Elect serves as Chair (usually, these appointments are made by June for terms starting the subsequent September 1). Persons appointed to Committee and task force leadership are outstanding Section members who have served the Section with distinction. The Chair-Elect consults with other Section leaders in making such appointments. In the spring, the Chair-Elect distributes a request for appointments each year, and Section members are encouraged to contact the Chair-Elect for more information. 

Appointments to Committees and other groups reporting directly to a Section Officer (such as the Finance Committee) are made by the relevant Section Officer. 

Getting Involved With Section Leadership


  • Get involved in one or more Committees and/or Task Forces, especially with Committee Steering Groups (remember, Section members may join as many Committees as they want for free). Regularly and valuably attend and contribute to the Committee listserv discussions, conference calls, and events. Suggest program proposals and publication ideas to the Committee and volunteer for projects when they arise. When appropriate, express your interest in serving in the Committee leadership.
  • Attend Section meetings, conferences, seminars, Council meetings, and other events. Introduce yourself to other Section members and leaders. Almost all Section and Committee events and meeting are open attendance--so attend any that you interested in attending.
  • Attend the Section’s Annual Leadership Retreat held just prior to the ABA Annual Meeting. The Leadership Retreat is open to all Section members.
  • Familiarize yourself with the work of the Section, its leaders, and its staff. Review the Section website, e-mails received from the Section, and its publications.
  • Refine your leadership skills. Successful leaders know the Section’s work and leaders, are organized and can efficiently run a meeting, can work well in groups, and have the ability to delegate tasks. 


  • Be overzealous in getting involved in a Committee, Task Force or the Section. Becoming a Committee or Task Force leader requires a significant time investment, so don’t be impatient. Advancement in the Section takes dedication and hard work.
  • Take on more than you can handle. You will not be an effective leader if you spread yourself too thin. However, don’t be afraid to over-deliver.


Do not hesitate to contact past, current, and future leaders of the Section for advice and information on how to get more involved. If you want to become active in a specific Committee or Task Force, contact that Committee or Task Force’s Co-Chairs. Make yourself known to the Section through substantive work.