Top 5 Reasons LLMs Should Join a Volunteer Bar Association


Life as an LLM student can be a whirlwind of lectures, assignments, and coffee-fueled study sessions. So, you might be wondering, “Why should I add ‘joining a bar association’ to my already packed schedule?” 

First off, we were just like you. The idea of joining a volunteer bar association didn’t exactly light a fire under us. It wasn’t because we lacked interest; we simply weren’t aware of the fantastic opportunities these associations offered. It took a chat with one of our favorite law professors to change our minds. She pointed out how being part of a local bar association can help embed us in the local legal community and ultimately boost our careers. Skepticism lingered, but we decided to give it a shot, and boy, are we glad we did. Most of these association have low student fees around $25, or no fees at all.

Here’s the scoop on why you, as an LLM student, should consider diving into the world of bar associations:

5. The Discounts

Who doesn’t love a good discount, right? If you’re one of those LLMs who tackled law school tuition without relying on loans or financial aid, this is your chance to rejoice. The American Bar Association (ABA) leads the pack here. For just a $25 fee, law students can snag a premium ABA membership, unlocking a treasure trove of savings. Picture this: 20% off West Academic case books and study guides, plus discounts with major bar prep companies. In our first year with the ABA, we collectively pocketed $500 in savings – from textbooks to Hertz car rentals and even a discounted Quimbee Bar Prep membership. And don’t forget the JD Advising One-sheets, a Reddit favorite!

Remember, though, the legal community extends beyond the ABA. Check out your city and county bar associations; they often have their own sweet discounts. For example, the Philadelphia Bar Association offers a 25% discount with Budget Rent-A-Car, and the Baltimore County Bar Association dishes out a 15% discount on ABA Publications. The savings are out there; you just need to know where to look!


4. The Networking

Networking as a foreigner in the USA can be difficult.  There are lots of assumptions made when you’re given the off-the-cuff advice to network.  It is assumed that:

  1. That you speak and understand English well and are confident conversing with new people.
  2. That you are comfortable approaching men and women from a wide range of backgrounds
  3. That you understand not only American customs and etiquette but the local customs as well

Networking is like that unsung superhero skill they forgot to teach us in law school. If you’re an international student navigating the legal landscape in the USA, you might have faced some unique challenges. We get it; building your network from scratch is not always easy. But that’s where joining a local bar association comes in handy. Start small, maybe with a county bar association. These close-knit groups often host regular meet-ups at cozy cafes, bars, or restaurants. Attend these events, introduce yourself as a law student, and enjoy the camaraderie – and the food, of course! It might take a few gatherings, but you’ll gradually connect with attorneys in the group. And if they have a Young Lawyers Group, dive right in – they’re all about fun and getting to know each other. 

Networking is more than just a buzzword; it’s a valuable skill that you can hone at your own pace within these associations. Don’t forget, everyone was new at some point, and these gatherings are welcoming spaces to learn the ropes.

3. The CLEs and exclusive events

Membership in these associations opens the door to exclusive events – think of it as your backstage pass to professional opportunities. Plus, you’ll enjoy discounted Continuing Legal Education (CLE) programs, a golden ticket for staying updated on the latest trends and legal knowledge. You’re essentially getting front-row seats to the ever-evolving world of law.

Even if you haven’t passed the bar yet, you can get some great information and advice from CLEs.  You might even meet other law students that share your interest in that CLE topic.

2. Self-Promotion

Now, here’s the real game-changer – the dedicated magazines or newsletters that these associations offer. These publications are like your insider’s guide to the legal world, keeping you in the know about pressing issues and developments. But it’s not a one-way street; you can use these publications to market yourself. Yep, you heard that right! As an LLM student, you need to be a pro at showcasing your skills. By placing an ad in the publication, you’re not only searching for jobs but also advertising yourself as a qualified candidate. You’re making it easier for employers to find you, even if they weren’t actively looking. It’s a savvy move to expand your job hunt strategy.

1. The Jobs

Last but certainly not least, local law firms often advertise job openings in these publications. Not every firm relies on LinkedIn or traditional job boards to find potential hires. So, the positions you find in these local bar association publications are often hidden gems, not posted elsewhere. This means you can tap into a hidden job market by exploring these publications, giving you a leg up in your job hunt. In our experience, applying for jobs featured in bar association publications often leads to a higher response rate compared to LinkedIn applications.  Some of the bigger bar associations have an online job bank not accessible to the public.  Think of it as Symplicty but with less forms to fill in.  As an LLM you need as much leverage as you can get whilst searching for a job we highly encourage you to try this out.

So, there you have it – the top five reasons why LLMs should seriously consider joining a volunteer bar association. Discounts, networking, CLEs, self-promotion, and job opportunities are all within reach.   There’s nothing here as LLMs that we haven’t tried.  We can vouch for these tried-and-true methods. Don’t miss out on an opportunity to enhance your LLM legal journey and propel your career forward.

Whether you’re waiting on your bar results or still deciding on what bar exam to take, consider submitting to the 10 List.  We’re now seeking submissions.  Part portfolio, part law journal, the 10 List showcases the 10 best and brightest LLM students in the United States. 

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Profiles and scholarly writing from the best LLMs in America

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