Learning from Subject Matter Experts
I could write about how I have rapidly become competent and current in my substantive areas of practice by learning from subject matter experts who are the best in the business through their CLEs, articles, meetings, mentorship, and informal conversations. Or how, through YLD programs, I have improved my professionalism. Or how I bring this expertise and best practices back to my local legal community. Or how what I have learned in the YLD has made me a better local bar leader.
Opportunities to Serve
I could also write about how my active participation in the ABA has revealed opportunities I hadn’t known existed. I served in the House of Delegates (in which control and administration of the ABA are vested and which is the policy-making body of the ABA), received board appointments by ABA presidents, and was selected as a fellow of RPTE.
Opportunities to Travel
I could tell you about how I've been able to travel to Puerto Rico, Boca Raton, Chicago, Miami, New York City, and other locales. Or how I now have lawyer mentors at every level of the profession. Or how I have been blessed with countless opportunities to mentor and encourage others, especially as Law Student Outreach Director of the YLD. Or how I have received opportunities to improve our imperfect profession and to serve, like on the executive board of the Center for Human Rights, HOD, YLD, and more.
Good Friends for Life and Client Referrals
What about how I now have scores of lawyer buddies beyond my local community and school? Or how in the YLD, I have made a few good friends for life. Or how my YLD friends provide a safe space to make mistakes, bounce ridiculous and brilliant ideas, and have solidarity.
Or that, through my ABA network, I am now routinely contacted with potential client leads, and how I get to build political capital by passing along those referrals, as appropriate.
But no. Because I had such difficulty thinking of one benefit, I will share one thing I have learned since I’ve been an ABA member: Quite little in our profession is linear if we engage with the bar community.
Our ABA Connections Are Like Elastic Boomerangs
Four illustrations follow.
- The Law Student Division elected me as one of its representatives to the HOD. Consequently, I became part of my state delegation. Those relationships that started in the HOD have benefited me in several ways back within my state.
- Being named an RPTE Fellow enhanced professional relationships with senior RPTE attorneys in my city. Those relationships resulted in opportunities to present CLEs for our local and state bars.
- The Center for Human Rights created a powerful textbook, and traveling exhibit called Lawyers Without Rights about how the Nazis persecuted Jewish lawyers. To my knowledge, it is the first project devoted to the subject. When the exhibit made its Missouri debut, I represented the ABA and the Center in a public ceremony at my state courthouse alongside one of our most esteemed judges.
- The relationships I have formed in the National Bar Association, Hispanic Bar, and ABA are constantly intersecting in ways that benefit me.
As a member of the ABA, I have learned that the worst thing about the legal profession is that we lawyers are clueless about what we don’t know. As a member of the ABA, one of the best things I have learned is that we lawyers get to keep learning.