Like most who eked out a living during the lean years of the Great Depression, my grandmother believed strongly in frugality—and she could stretch a dollar as far as anyone I’ve ever known. Today, dollar-stretching is once again a valuable skill, especially when scrutinizing monthly and annual expenses. You want to channel the thrift of your forebears to wring every possible drop of value from the dollars you spend.
To that end, here are a few ways to maximize the value you get from your bar association dues.
If you are like most lawyers, you belong to one or two bar associations. You pay your bar dues each year, attend a few CLE programs and don’t think about your membership much beyond that. The thing is, there’s a lot more value in your association membership just waiting for you to scoop it up. And since you pay the full amount of dues anyway, why not get the full amount of value?
Six Tips to Get You Started
1. Find out if the bar has a practice management advisor on staff. If so, use him or her to help you with whatever technology, marketing, ethics or management issue is presently causing you to lose sleep at night.
2. Take part in your association’s pro bono activities. You will get the opportunity to help people, improve the image of the profession, network with your peers and shake up your daily routine. Plus it’s good karma.
3. Utilize the discussion boards or e-mail listserves. It gives you the chance to crowd-source a thorny legal issue, discuss developments in your practice area and just gather around the watercooler to chat, even if you work alone.
4. Take advantage of your bar’s free or discounted CLE programs for members. Make them a networking opportunity in addition to a learning opportunity by introducing yourself to a stranger at lunch and mingling at the breaks instead of fielding calls from the office.
5. Check out free legal research tools. Some bars provide free legal research tools like Casemaker or Fastcase. See if you still need that expensive subscription or if you can use your free bar-based tool to reduce your costs.
6. Volunteer for a leadership position. From the board of governors to committee chairs, a key thing that differentiates bar associations from consulting companies and private businesses catering to lawyers is that your association belongs to you—and is waiting for you to take a turn at the helm to lead it.
Erik Mazzone is a practice management advisor at the North Carolina Bar Association. Once in a while he stops treating his blog, LawPracticeMatters.com, like a red-headed stepchild and writes something there.