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by Shelley Awe | April 20, 2020

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If you’re a student looking to network and boost your resume remotely, joining a professional legal association or two is a great way to do it. Belonging to an association can show your commitment to the legal profession and your area(s) of interest. Plus, it gives you the opportunity to take on a leadership role that can carry into your career. Joining an association is also a great way to network remotely, since most memberships come with access to online member directories and discussion forums.  

Below are some national associations worth checking out, as they all have student membership options. The list includes associations general to the legal profession as well as those based on practice area or diversity. But don’t stop at this list. If you haven’t yet, you should consider joining your local and/or state bar association—many offer free memberships for law students. Be sure to check out other associations that are local to your city or state or have chapters at your law school, too, as these can provide valuable networking opportunities closer to home.

If there is an association we should add to our list, let us know! Email me at sawe@vault.com.

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GENERAL TO THE LEGAL PROFESSION:

American Bar Association (ABA)

  • Law Student Membership: Free (or $25 for Premium Student Membership)
  • Mission: “[T]o serve equally our members, our profession and the public by defending liberty and delivering justice as the national representative of the legal profession.”

Association of Legal Administrators (ALA)

  • Student Membership: $49/year
  • Mission: “[To] provide extensive professional development, collaborative peer communities, strategic operational solutions, and business partner connections empowering our members to lead the business of law.”

Federal Bar Association (FBA)

  • Law Student Membership: $20/single year; $20 for two years (third year students); $30 for three years (second year students); $50 for four years (first year students)
  • Mission: “[The FBA] is dedicated to the advancement of the science of jurisprudence and to promoting the welfare, interests, education, and professional development of all attorneys involved in federal law. Our members run the gamut of federal practice: attorneys practicing in small to large legal firms, attorneys in corporations and federal agencies, and members of the judiciary. The FBA is the catalyst for communication between the bar and the bench, as well as the private and public sectors.”

 National Association for Legal Professionals (NALS)

  • Student Membership: $39/year plus $10 processing fee (free for students registered for the ALP exam)
  • Mission: “Engage legal professionals on their terms. Inspire legal professionals to want more. Enhance the careers of legal professionals. Promote legal professionals and the legal support industry.”

PRACTICE AREAS:

Aviation

Lawyer Pilots Bar Association (LPBA)

  • Law Student Membership: $49
  • Mission: “LPBA is an international non-profit bar association that promotes aviation law through its quarterly journal and semiannual CLE meetings at resort locations. There are membership categories for lawyer-pilots, pilots, lawyers, law students, and all those interested in aviation, aviation safety, and the law.”

Civil Litigation

American Association for Justice (AAJ) (formerly the Association of Trial Lawyers of America—ATLA)

  • Law Student Membership: $15/year
  • Mission: “[T]o promote a fair and effective justice system and to support the work of attorneys in their efforts to ensure that any person who is injured by the misconduct or negligence of others can obtain justice in America’s courtrooms, even when taking on the most powerful interests.”

Defense Research Institute (DRI)

  • Law Student Membership: $20
  • Mission: “DRI is committed to: [e]nhancing the skills, effectiveness, and professionalism of defense lawyers; [a]nticipating and addressing issues germane to defense lawyers and the civil justice system; [p]romoting appreciation of the role of the defense lawyer; and [i]mproving the civil justice system and preserving the civil jury.”

National Association of Consumer Advocates (NACA)

  • Law Student Membership: $25/year
  • Mission: “[T]o promote justice for all consumers by maintaining a forum for communication, networking, and information-sharing among consumer advocates across the country, particularly regarding legal issues, and by serving as a voice for consumers in the ongoing struggle to curb unfair or abusive business practices that harm consumers.”

Communications

Federal Communications Bar Association (FCBA)

  • Law Student Membership: $35
  • Mission: “[FCBA] is a volunteer organization of attorneys, engineers, consultants, economists, government officials and law students involved in the study, development, interpretation and practice of communications and information technology law and policy. From broadband deployment to broadcast content, from emerging wireless technologies to emergency communications, from spectrum allocations to satellite broadcasting, the FCBA has something to offer nearly everyone involved in the communications industry.”

Criminal Law

American Academy of Forensic Sciences (AAFS)

  • Law Student Membership (Jurisprudence section): $25 application fee
  • Mission: “[T]o promote professionalism, integrity, and competency in the membership actions and associated activities; to promote education for and research in the forensic sciences; to encourage the study, improve the practice, elevate the standards and advance the cause of the forensic sciences; to promote interdisciplinary communications; and to plan, organize and administer meetings, reports and other projects for the stimulation and advancement of these and related purposes.” 

Association of Prosecuting Attorneys (APA)

  • Law Student Membership: $35
  • Mission: “[The] APA provides valuable resources such as training and technical assistance to prosecutors in an effort to develop proactive and innovative prosecutorial practices that prevent crime, ensure equal justice and help make our communities safer.”

DUI Defense Lawyers Association (DUIDLA)

  • Law Student Membership: $25/year
  • Mission: “To protect and ensure by rule of law those individual rights guaranteed by the state and Federal Constitutions in DUI-related cases; to resist the constant efforts which are being made to curtail these rights; to encourage cooperation between lawyers engaged in the furtherance of these objectives through educational programs and other assistance; to serve as the first and last line of defense of the Constitution; to assist attorneys and public defenders in obtaining advanced training in DUI-related areas through our education scholarship grants.”

National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers (NACDL)

  • Law Student Membership: $49/year (includes subscription to The Champion) or $29/year (online version only)
  • Mission: “[T]o serve as a leader, alongside diverse coalitions, in identifying and reforming flaws and inequities in the criminal justice system, and redressing systemic racism, and ensuring that its members and others in the criminal defense bar are fully equipped to serve all accused persons at the highest level.”

Elder Law 

National Academy of Elder Law Attorneys (NAELA)

  • Law Student Membership: $85/year (must be full time student)
  • Mission: “[T]o education, inspire, serve, and provide community to attorneys with practices in elder and special needs law.”

Employment Law

National Employment Lawyers Association (NELA)

  • Law Student Membership: $25/year
  • Mission: “NELA advances employee rights and serves lawyers who advocate for equality and justice in the American workplace. … NELA is the country's largest professional organization that is exclusively comprised of lawyers who represent individual employees in cases involving employment discrimination and other employment-related matters.”

Health Law

American Health Law Association (AHLA)

  • Law Student Membership: Free for “Student Subscriber” status (students can also join as full members at normal member rates, which start at $269/year)
  • Mission: “[T]o provide a collegial forum for interaction and information exchange to enable its members to serve their clients more effectively; to produce the highest quality non-partisan educational programs, products, and services concerning health law issues; and to serve as a public resource on selected healthcare legal issues.”

Immigration Law

American Immigration Lawyers Association (AILA)

  • Law Student Membership: $50/year
  • Mission: “[AILA] is the national association of immigration lawyers established to promote justice, advocate for fair and reasonable immigration law and policy, advance the quality of immigration and nationality law and practice, and enhance the professional development of its members.”

Intellectual Property

American Intellectual Property Law Association (AIPLA)

  • Law Student Membership: $25
  • Mission: “AIPLA supports IP professionals and advances an effective and balanced intellectual property system through advocacy, education, training, and community outreach.​”

The National Association of Patent Practitioners (NAPP)

  • Law Student Membership: $50
  • Mission: “To provide networking, education, collegial exchange, benefits, and a collective voice in the larger IP community on patent law and prosecution practice, so patent practitioners can flourish and achieve the highest levels of competence and professionalism in their practice.”

Maritime Law

The Maritime Law Association of the United States

  • Law Student Membership: $75 one-time fee; application requires a letter in support
  • Mission: “[T]o advance reforms in the Maritime Law of the United States, to facilitate justice in its administration, to promote uniformity in its enactment and interpretation, to furnish a forum for the discussion and consideration of problems affecting the Maritime Law and its administration, to participate as a constituent member of the Comité Maritime International and as an affiliated organization of the American Bar Association, and to act with other associations in efforts to bring about a greater harmony in the shipping laws, regulations and practices of different nations.”

Public Interest

National Association of Counsel for Children (NACC)

  • Law Student Membership: $0 (with school email address)
  • Mission: “[T]o advance the rights, well-being, and opportunities of children and families impacted by the child welfare system through high-quality legal representation.”

National Lawyers Guild (NLG)

  • Law Student Membership: $25-65
  • Mission: “The National Lawyers Guild is the nation’s oldest and largest progressive bar association and was the first one in the US to be racially integrated. Our mission is to use law for the people, uniting lawyers, law students, legal workers, and jailhouse lawyers to function as an effective force in the service of the people by valuing human rights and the rights of ecosystems over property interests.” 

DIVERSITY:

Black Entertainment and Sports Lawyers Association (BESLA)

  • Law Student Membership: $75
  • Mission: “[BESLA] is a nationally recognized leader in legal education and professional development within the United States for lawyers and professionals in the entertainment, sports, and related industries.”

Hispanic National Bar Association (HNBA)

  • Law Student Membership: Free (first year)
  • Mission: “[HNBA is] a nonprofit, nonpartisan, national membership organization that represents the interests of Hispanic legal professionals in the United States and its territories … also committed to advocacy on issues of importance to the 58 million people of Hispanic heritage living in the U.S.”

National Asian Pacific American Bar Association (NAPABA)

  • Law Student Membership: $25/year
  • Mission: “NAPABA represents the interests of nearly 90 national, state, and local Asian Pacific American bar associations. We are the national voice for the Asian Pacific American legal profession. We promote justice, equity, and opportunity for Asian Pacific Americans. We foster professional development, legal scholarship, advocacy, and community involvement.”

National Association of Women Lawyers (NAWL)

  • Law Student Membership: Free
  • Mission: “The mission of the National Association of Women Lawyers is to provide leadership, a collective voice, and essential resources to advance women in the legal profession and advocate for the equality of women under the law. Since 1899, NAWL has been empowering women in the legal profession, cultivating a diverse membership dedicated to equality, mutual support, and collective success."

National Bar Association (NBA)

  • Law Student Membership: Free
  • Mission: “[To] advance the science of jurisprudence; improve the administration of justice; preserve the independence of the judiciary and to uphold the honor and integrity of the legal profession; to promote professional and social intercourse among the members of the American and the international bars; to promote legislation that will improve the economic condition of all American citizens, regardless of race, sex or creed in their efforts to secure a free and untrammeled use of the franchise guaranteed by the Constitution of the United States; and to protect the civil and political rights of the citizens and residents of the United States."

National Black Prosecutors Association (NBPA)

  • Law Student Membership: $25
  • Mission: "The NBPA is emerging as the international association of Black law enforcement professionals with a reputation for providing education and leadership in the legal profession through its intensive training sessions and multi-disciplined networking."

National LGBT Bar Association 

  • Law Student Membership: $40
  • Mission: “The National LGBT Bar Association is a national association of lawyers, judges and other legal professionals, law students, activists, and affiliated lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender legal organizations. The LGBT Bar promotes justice in and through the legal profession for the LGBTQ+ community in all its diversity."

National Native American Bar Association (NNABA)

  • Law Student Membership: Free (voluntary donation option)
  • Mission: “NNABA shares many of the same goals of diversity and increased understanding of our communities’ unique cultural and legal issues with minority bar associations. However, most of our lawyers are both U.S. citizens and citizens of their respective Tribal nations. Our members, therefore, also share the communal responsibility, either directly or indirectly, of protecting the governmental sovereignty of the more than 560 independent Native American Tribal governments in the United States."

 

 

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