When a Bar is Not For Drinking
For those of us on the outside of the legal profession, the information “lawyer” often evokes a series of the latest lawyer jokes we got off the internet. The legal profession has taken it on the chin with such low jokes and under the breath implications that lawyers are unethical or greedy. This is strange because of all of the professions, the legal world is one that is held to a high standard of education and continuous performance of service and that is held in continuous scrutiny by their own internal police known as the Bar Association.
For a new law student, the Bar Association lies ahead as a daunting challenge that lies between them and a lucrative career as a lawyer. The Bar Exam is renowned for being exacting, difficult and taxing on a prospective lawyer. It is such a huge accomplishment to pass “The Bar” that it is very shared for the prospective lawyer to take a few months or a year off to prepare for the exam and/or to have to take it several times before finally passing the test.
Once the student passes The Bar and has achieved that position of being able to conduct law legally, there is a lot that the Bar Association does for its membership. It isn’t easy to get a practice stated so the Bar Association can provide valuable advice, contacts in the legal world and already contacts for financing so a lawyer just out of law school can ‘hang out their shingle’ and get their practice going.
The national Bar Association is responsible for the larger issues of certification, relationships with the government and what it method to be a “Bar certified” lawyer in this country. But on top of those sets, there are local Bar Associations that lawyers in every community can join that offer many valuable sets to their members.
Sometimes lawyers look at the local Bar Association with disdain. This might be because the idea of associating with a lot of other lawyers doesn’t seem to make much sense. After all, they will not be your prospective customers. additionally, that is the competition and you don’t want to spill your guts to the competition.
However, in practice is a brotherhood in the local legal professions that benefits everyone. By associating with other lawyers, legal firms and professionals associated with the legal world, there is a lot of value you can get just from attending the local Bar Association meetings.
Probably the greatest advantage to becoming an active member of your local Bar Association is the networking you will get done. On any given evening, you might find yourself networking with some of the judges you may be working with in court this year, with partners in your firm or competition firms who may have some valuable tips on upcoming situations or who may be looking for a bright attorney like yourself to recruit.
One the best ways to build your practice is to begin to pull in a list of substantial clients that can be the source of your long-term success as a lawyer. While we do see lawyers going on television to advertise for customers, the best way to find new clients is by pro bono work and by networking. Your local Bar Association offers a lot of community sets to new businesses just getting started and to the local small business association. There is a method to this madness. These are the organizations future clients will come to with legal questions and problems. So if you are well known to your local Bar Association officers and members and they know what you can do for clients, they can give you as a reference, which can average new customers for your practice.
You can make a lot of contacts this way and ultimately connect with that “chief client” who may be the ticket to your long-term success. These breakthroughs won’t happen by sitting in your office waiting for the phone to ring. Get out there and network and the best place in town to do that is at your local Bar Association meetings.