There are people who think “this is the way things have always been done, so no one will question me if I just keep doing it this way.” A lot of this kind of thinking seems to happen in bar associations. In a world of amazing innovation and wonderful new technology, a lot of bar associations are still trudging along well-worn paths. Not all of them, mind you, but many.
I am a member of the American Bar Association, Pennsylvania Bar Association, and the Washington County Bar Association. I also participate in niche organizations focused on my practice area. Between conference calls, virtual meetings, and multi-day conferences, staying active in so many organizations can be a part time job in and of itself. But the way to get the most out of bar associations is to become active and not just read your monthly newsletters. But is the time and monetary investment worth it for solos and small firm lawyers?
There I was, sitting with my client along with his mother, the victim in the case, and several witnesses. My client agreed to testify against an alleged co-conspirator, and we were all waiting for the prosecutor to arrive. When he finally showed up the meeting went without a hitch. As we wrapped up, I had this encounter:
Prosecutor: So, Josh, when did you graduate law school?
Prosecutor: So you’re what, 28?
Me: There abouts.
Prosecutor: Wow. I’ve got underwear older than you.
If I could raise one eyebrow (a talent I desperately wish I had) I would have. Instead, I just responded “You need to go shopping more often.”
One of the benefits of being a former fat person is that I have extremely thick skin. Comments like these don’t really get to me. I also understand that a little hazing from a senior lawyer isn’t the worst thing in the world. But when comments like these are made in front of a group, including clients, they can be frustrating. So, as a young lawyer, how does one deal with more senior members of the bar?
A couple of weeks ago, I asked why I ought to renew my bar association membership. Well, July 1st was the renewal date, and I decided to let it go. Then I had breakfast with Eric Cooperstein, who is making his way up my local bar’s leadership ladder, and he tried to change my mind. His reasoning was that the bar is like the nexus of the legal community.
In a similar vein, Jim Dedman responded to my post at NC Law Blog, arguing that the bar association is a sort of last redoubt for camaraderie among lawyers: