August 16, 2012

Bar associations are a great place to start building your resume and your network, and hone your networking skills.  Join the local bar association, particularly the committee targeting your substantive practice area.  It’s nice for, say, a new employment lawyer to meet her peers and competitors, to have someone outside the firm to seek information and advice, commiserate with, build referral sources for conflict work, or identify local job opportunities.

Most of these committees will have newsletters and meetings, which can be a good place to write a brief article or give a speech, to start building your professional resume.  Work toward a committee leadership position.  If you do a consistently good job with the local work, you’ll eventually work your way to national prominence.

Note that bar association activities are good to build your resume, but generally they don’t get you business. Repeat, for most lawyers they don’t get you business.  This is an important skill- and resume-building activity, but most commercial lawyers will find that bar associations are not the most efficient source of clients.  The typical exception is for lawyers who have referral-based practice areas or specialties, like personal injury or divorce.  Seek to surround yourself with clients, not competitors.