New ABA membership restructuring offers savings, more benefits

On May 1, the American Bar Association launched a suite of new benefits, more personalized content based on member preferences, better communications and a streamlined dues structure for members.

The new product offerings are designed to help lawyers at every stage of their careers to build their practices, achieve greater success and demonstrate the value the ABA brings to the profession.

The new benefits include:

  • Members will be able to join the Law Practice Division and the Solo, Small Firm and General Practice Division at no additional cost.
  • All members will have access to the content generated by both divisions, along with a wide range of premium information and CLE programs.
  • Members will have access to materials developed by the Center for Professional Responsibility on ethics standards for lawyers and judges, which includes more than 40 premier CLE offerings.
  • Members will have online, on-demand access to professional development and continuing legal education through a new CLE Member Benefit Library. The library has more than 400 titles, and that number will continue to grow. Section members will have access to even more titles and premium content in their related practice areas.
  • The ABA Career Center will be redesigned to make navigating its invaluable career support tools more readily available.
  • There will be a greater emphasis on delivering up-to-date podcasts and webinars and introducing an interview and resume-building tool, ABA Career Forward. This tool, powered by artificial intelligence, is offered to ABA members through global consulting leader Korn Ferry Advance and is designed primarily for young lawyers and those looking to make a career change.
  • Members will be encouraged to join an ABA member group that will immediately connect them with the substantive content important for business development, help them grow substantive practice expertise and connect with leaders in their specialty areas. 
  • The ABA is launching a new email automation platform to improve member experience by:
    •  Delivering more personalized, curated content
    •  Reducing the number of unwanted and irrelevant emails a member receives
    • Empowering members to customize their ABA email experience based on their preferences through a new preference center in myABA.

A simplified dues structure moves the association from 157 different dues levels to five.

The price points for lawyers:

  • 0-4 years from first admission to a bar: $ 75
  • 5-9 years from first admission to a bar: $150
  • Government attorneys, judges and public interest lawyers: $150
  • Solo/small firm attorneys and retired attorneys: $150
  •  10-14 years from first admission to a bar: $250
  • 15-19 years from first admission to a bar: $350
  • 20+ years from first admission to a bar: $450

For law students:

  • Students: $0
  • Premium students: $25

For others:

  • Paralegals: $75
  • Affiliated professionals: $150
  • International lawyers: $150

Still have questions? We asked ABA Executive Director Jack Rives some that we had:

Why has the ABA developed a new membership model?

Our membership model is a proactive effort to address the kind of challenges faced by most membership associations and to position the ABA for the future. Our focus is increasing the value of membership in the ABA and offering our members significantly enhanced benefits.

While the ways people engage with associations are shifting, the benefits associations provide – involving personal growth and advancing the good deeds of their profession – still drive the membership choice. The ABA is looking to tap into these priorities.

Customer experience has fast become a top priority for businesses and associations. People do not base their loyalty on price or quality alone anymore, but on the total customer experience. The ABA is dedicated to seeking ways to improve the experiences of its members.

As the legal profession evolves, we want to make the ABA an essential partner, working alongside lawyers to help build their practices.

Will every member’s dues be reduced?

The new dues structure is sensible and fair.  Almost every member will benefit from a reduction in dues.

Won’t these reduced dues result in further revenue loss?

In the near term, that’s likely. The ABA’s finances are very sound, though, and surveys and analyses indicate that long-term, we will more than make up for any possible short-term losses with enhanced recruiting and retention of dues-paying members.

Will there be budget cuts if revenue does fall?

ABA leaders have been aware of problems facing the association for several years, and we have reorganized and tightened our finances accordingly. The association has done an excellent job of reducing spending while continuing to provide members the services they want. This new plan will eventually increase both dues and non-dues revenue and allow the ABA to grow and to be involved in even more worthy ventures.

How will you ensure we are on the right track?

We are doing everything we can to ensure success. The association has focused efforts on marketing more effectively to help spread the word about the ABA’s new value proposition and using analytics to measure the success of those efforts. We need to convey the message that ABA membership is a must for all attorneys – to advance their careers as well as the legal profession. Simply stated:  We provide great value.