July/August 2019

News & Events

Big Ideas Are Happening Right Now

Zachary Bambacht

I think it's entirely possible that we are in the most transformative era in the ABA’s entire 141-year history. To put that into perspective, and admittedly for amusement, I took a look at things that were invented, by decade, after the ABA was founded in 1878: 1885, photographic film; 1893, zippers; 1907, paper towels; 1916, the toggle light switch; 1927, the jukebox; 1931, the electric guitar; 1945, the microwave oven; 1948, cable television; 1951, videotape; 1965, the compact disc; 1973, the mobile phone; 1983, the internet; 1994, the Segway PT scooter; and in 2007, the iPhone. What will be a defining invention of the 2010s? Our organization was already around for 50 years when Otto Frederick Rohwedder invented the first functional sliced bread machine. That’s right, the ABA was around 50 years before industrialized sliced bread was invented!

One thing stands out to me about the innovations since the ABA was founded: Innovation consistently offers convenience. If you are somewhere scenic and wish you could remember the view, photographic film can capture that memory more permanently for you. If you are putting on your jacket, instead of buttons, a faster zipper was invented; cable television offered a better picture than an over-the-air broadcast; videotape allowed a more efficient way to record than film; and your mobile phone allowed for calls in locations other than the home or office. But innovation doesn’t stop once a convenience is achieved. Many products can be improved while others become entirely obsolete. Photographic film has basically been displaced by digital images, digital cameras have lost market share to mobile devices that take pictures and mobile devices have become “smart.” And so forth.

So, here we are today, continuing our transformation as a division and the role we play within the ABA. The innovations continue, sometimes seamlessly and sometimes with a pain point or two. Our website is now a mobile experience, specifically designed for you to have the ability to access your content from your tablet or mobile phone. We have refined our dues structure to have significantly fewer rates, and we’ve made them easy to understand. We have enhanced the value of our ABA member benefit offerings by including membership in the Law Practice Division (LP) and GP Solo. If you are an ABA member, don’t forget to specifically opt in for LP membership! We, as a division, are a significant contributor to the ABA’s CLE library, a first of its kind. A library of CLEs available to members is another meaningful upgrade to the value of membership. Innovations bring convenience to members and better access to resources relevant to most, if not all, who practice law.

There isn’t a picture of those who founded the ABA because photographic film wasn’t invented until seven years later. We have come a long way in our history, and the world has transformed into one that is based on technology. It feels like the big ideas are only beginning! 

Zachary Bambacht

Zachary Bambacht is the director of the ABA Law Practice Division in Chicago. Zachary.Bambacht@americanbar.org