The American Bar Association (ABA) is offering free membership to all law students starting in August, waiving the $25 annual dues for those enrolled in ABA accredited law schools across the country. ABA President William C. Hubbard of South Carolina made the announcement in April on behalf of the 395,000-member organization. It comes on the heels of a recommendation of the special Task Force to Examine Association Policies Impacting Recruitment and Retention of Law, chaired by Robert A. Clifford, founder and senior partner at Clifford Law Offices. Clifford was appointed last June by then ABA President James R. Silkenat of New York to examine the policies, strategies and tactics for the recruitment and retention of new members. Part of the Task Force’s duties also was to create a consistent approach and policy to help recruit new members, including law students, and coordinate these recruitment measures with various constituent groups throughout the organization.
The Task Force was created as a result of a recommendation of the ABA Standing Committee on Membership. On behalf of the Task Force and as part of its extensive report, Clifford made a presentation in February to the ABA Board of Governors making the recommendation of free membership to all law students. Clifford, who has served three consecutive terms as the Illinois State Delegate to the ABA House of Delegates, just stepped down last August after serving nine years, the maximum term limit allowed for state delegates. Law students who take advantage of this free offer will be allowed access to the ABA job board, a subscription to the ABA Journal, discounts on various products such as Sprint cellular plans and other opportunities including webinars and networking events. Approximately 119,000 law students are currently enrolled and would be eligible for this free offer. The Chicago Daily Law Bulletin reported on the story in its “Law School Notes” column on April 17, 2015. “ABA to Extend Free Membership to Law Student.” Dominic Lo Verde, a law clerk at Clifford Law Offices and a second-year law student at Loyola University Chicago College of Law, commented on the new measure to reporter Jack Silverstein stating that, although he already had paid $60 as a first-year law student entitling him to three years of ABA membership, he has found it to be invaluable for gaining practical experience as well as for networking opportunities.
To take advantage of the free membership, law students are encouraged to enroll at www.americanbar.org/abalawstudents or by calling the ABA Service Center at 800-285-2221. Currently, the ABA also offers the first year of membership free to upon admission to the bar. After that first year, lawyers then choose to become dues-paying members.