Joining a bar association is an important step in a legal professional's career. However, assessing the value derived from these memberships becomes increasingly crucial as time passes. Bar association memberships should be more than just a credential on your resume; they should be a source of growth, learning, networking, and professional nourishment.

Evaluating the merits of these affiliations becomes imperative to ensure that they align with your career aspirations and objectives. In this discussion, we delve into the pivotal importance of evaluating bar association memberships and introduce a comprehensive 5-point checklist to assist in gauging the significance of membership renewal.

Many attorneys are part of multiple bar associations from local to county and even state levels. However, a systematic approach requires assessing the true worth and determining whether these associations continue to offer substantial value. By examining various aspects of your memberships, from engagement levels and received benefits to the association's alignment with your career direction, this checklist serves as a guide to help attorneys make informed decisions about their ongoing affiliations.

1. Assessing Bar Association Membership

A. Being Part of Multiple Bar Associations: Local, County, or State

Being Part of Multiple Bar Associations

Assessing your current affiliations across various levels of bar associations to understand the breadth and depth of your network.

B. Level of Engagement: Are You Actively Involved?

Evaluating your participation within these associations – from attending meetings and volunteering to holding positions within committees or boards.

C. Evaluating the Value Received: Have They Met Your Expectations?

Reflecting on the benefits obtained, such as networking opportunities, resources, CLE programs, mentorship, and any additional services offered.

D. Professional Direction: Are You Shifting Practice Areas?

Professional Direction

Considering how your evolving career trajectory aligns with the focus and offerings of the association. Assessing whether the association supports your current or future practice areas.

E. Calculating Return on Investment: Weighing Costs versus Benefits

Comparing the financial investment made in membership fees against the advantages and benefits derived from the association.

F. Exploring Alternatives: Finding a Better Voluntary Bar Association

Research and explore alternative associations that might better cater to your professional needs or offer enhanced benefits.

G. Breaking Down Annual Fees: Viewing as a Monthly Subscription

Dividing the annual fees into a monthly equivalent to better understand the ongoing cost and its proportion relative to the benefits received.

2. Being Part of Multiple Bar Associations

A. Benefits and Drawbacks of Membership in Multiple Associations


Diverse Networking: Access to a broader network of legal professionals and potential clients.

You can read our Effective Networking Tips for Lawyers to begin the New year for great networking tips.

Varied Resources: Exposure to wider resources, CLE programs, and educational opportunities.

Enhanced Visibility: Increased exposure in different legal communities.


Time Commitment: Balancing engagements and commitments across various associations can be challenging.

Financial Investment: Membership fees across multiple associations can cumulatively be substantial.

Potential Overlap: There might be overlap or redundancy in services or resources provided.

B. Strategies for Efficiently Managing Multiple Memberships

Prioritization: Focus on active involvement in a select few that align best with your practice and career goals.

Delegate or Share Roles: Consider sharing responsibilities or delegating roles within various associations if feasible.

Regular Assessment: Periodically review your involvement and adjust memberships based on evolving professional needs.

Time Management: Efficiently schedule and allocate specific timeframes for different association-related activities.

Absolutely; here's the section on engagement and value received within bar association memberships:

3. Engagement and Value Received

Engagement and Value Received

A. Quantifying the Value: Assessing the Benefits Received

Networking Opportunities: Evaluate the connections made, referrals received, or professional relationships established.

Educational Resources: Assess the quality and relevance of CLE programs, workshops, and resources.

Professional Development: Consider the impact on skill development, knowledge enhancement, or career growth.

B. Importance of Active Involvement in Bar Association Activities

Networking and Relationships: Active engagement fosters stronger connections and visibility within the legal community.

Leadership and Recognition: Active participation may create opportunities for leadership roles or recognition.

Continued Learning: Engaging in events and activities ensures continuous learning and professional growth.

C. Impact on Career Growth and Development

Career Opportunities: Evaluate how the association has contributed to career advancements or new opportunities.

Skill Enhancement: Measure how the association contributed to skill development or expansion of knowledge.

Client Referrals and Exposure: Assess the impact on exposure to potential clients or referral sources.

4. Professional Direction and Practice Areas

A. Shifting Practice Areas: Relevance of Membership in Specific Associations

Alignment with New Focus: Assess the alignment of current bar association memberships with the emerging practice areas.

Relevance of Resources: Determine if the association provides resources or support tailored to the new focus.

B. Challenges and Considerations When Transitioning Practice Areas

Network Transition: Evaluate potential shifts in networking opportunities and relationships concerning the new practice area.

Educational Needs: Assess if the association offers educational resources pertinent to the evolving field.

Adapting to Changes: Consider challenges or support required in adapting to new trends or legal landscapes.

5. ROI Calculation and Assessment

A. Calculating Return on Investment (ROI) for Bar Association Memberships

Quantifying Benefits: Assess tangible benefits gained from the membership, such as networking, CLE credits, and professional development.

Monetary Value: Calculate the monetary worth of benefits against the annual or monthly membership fee.

Comparative Analysis: Compare the costs and benefits to ascertain the membership's financial worth.

B. Determining Membership Value: Financial and Non-Financial Aspects

Evaluating Financial Benefits: Consider discounts, referrals, or legal resources that might financially offset the membership costs.

Non-Financial Aspects: Assess the value derived from intangible benefits like networking, mentorship, and educational resources.

6. Exploring Alternatives

Exploring Alternatives

A. Researching and Identifying Better-Fitting Voluntary Bar Associations

Identifying Needs: Assess specific professional needs and interests to find associations that align better.

Researching Options: Explore different bar associations, considering their offerings and benefits.

Seeking Recommendations: Gather insights from peers or mentors about potential alternative associations.

B. Steps to Transitioning Membership to a New Association

Review Existing Commitments: Fulfill any remaining obligations or commitments with the current association.

Membership Application: Follow the application process for the new association, including any required documentation or fees.

Communication: Inform the previous association about the decision to transition, if required.

Engagement with New Association: Once approved, actively engage and participate in activities offered by the new association.

7. Considering Membership Fees

A. Monthly Breakdown of Annual Fees: Evaluating Worth as a Subscription

Cost Analysis: Break down the yearly membership fee into manageable monthly expenses.

Comparative Value: Assess the benefits received against the monthly subscription cost to determine value.

B. Assessing Fee Structures Across Different Associations

Comparative Evaluation: Compare membership fees of various associations to gauge relative value.

Considering Benefits: Assess whether higher fees correspond to increased benefits or services.

Recap of the 5-Point Checklist for Bar Association Membership Renewal

Membership Assessment: Assessing engagement, value, career direction, ROI, and alternatives.

Considerations: Evaluating multiple memberships, fees, and shifting practice areas.

Continuous Evaluation: Stressing the importance of ongoing assessment for aligning memberships with professional goals.

Maximizing Benefits: Emphasizing the significance of optimizing memberships for career advancement and networking opportunities.