It's not just your father's state bar association any more. Or your mother's.
Still you're probably not much of a joiner. You grew to maturity with computers and electronic communications and a sense of making your own way. But you're in a tough job market and you need information and services to jump-start your career. And you'll continue to need them to keep you going strong.
The Illinois State Bar Association knows that. And the underpinnings are in place to give you what you need all through your career. Take a look at what membership in the state bar has to offer you.
ISBA Web site
Sure, everybody's got a Web site. But ours helps you win cases, serve clients, and keeps you current on the law. Check us out at www.isba.org.
* Sign up for our FREE (daily) e-mail case summary update--with links to the full text of the opinion.
* We have on-line subscription newsletters in 36 substantive law areas. You get a print version also. They're not free, but the yearly fee is very reasonable.
* Full text of the Illinois Bar Journal is free to all members. Includes articles of legal analysis, news and updates, and nuts and bolts practice features. The print version comes to your mailbox.
* Full text of the ISBA Bar News--bar association and legal news at your fingertips.
* Under construction: A career center for employers and job seekers.
*Need help from an experienced lawyer? Let our listserves be your gateway to the expertise of your peers. Includes one list for all members, plus individuals listserves in the same substantive law areas as the newsletters.
* Start your research with the ISBA Web page. We collect links to Illinois legal information and categorize them for easy reference. We're pretty sure our link page is the best and most comprehensive on the Net.
All our periodicals, mentioned above, are on the Web, but you also get well-edited, professionally-designed products in your mailbox. And there's more:
*The ISBA produces a dozen or more practice-oriented books--and makes them available at very affordable prices to members. New titles or updates are produced annually.
* For your reception area, we produce public information brochures.
* Free to all members are the Guide to Statutes of Limitations, the Legislation Checklist, and a legislation newsletter. (They're also posted on our Web site.)
Law school is over, but learning the law is not. And for most new admittees, the nuts and bolts of practice are skills still to be mastered. For just that reason, the ISBA has always offered Bridge the Gap, a one-day program that includes everything from how to file a motion to a session with judges on "How to Lose Your Case Without Even Trying."
A more in-depth, multiple-week program will offer one evening session per week on such topics as how to set up a practice, ethical issues in running a practice, and introductory information about such substantive law areas as real estate, trusts and estates, and torts.
Besides the basics of getting started, there's the matter of continually changing law. Each year, new legislation affecting your practice will be enacted. New court decisions and administrative rules can quickly re-shape the law. That's where ISBA's Law Ed Series and other programs can bring you up to speed. They're inordinately affordable and usually convenient to both Chicago and downstate practitioners. Participants tell us they're very useful.
Besides the benefits spelled out so far, a variety of insurance products and discounts products and services such as WestLaw, Lexis, and cellular phone services are yours. We provide a mediation service for fee disputes. And, depending on your location, you can receive referrals through out Lawyer Referral Service, which is free to the public.
Shaping the law through legislation
Our goal is to promote positive change that serves the best interests of the justice system. As a member, you can just enjoy the benefits of our labor--or be part of the process. That process starts with grassroots input from sections and committees and is funneled through out experienced staff, who lobby the legislature. Important federal legislation also receives our attention.
In its 123-year history, the ISBA has often been a leader in updating and revising Illinois law. Most recently, we were instrumental in bringing together the various publishers of the Illinois statutes into one Illinois Revised Statutes, and further revising these into the Illinois Compiled Statutes.
Informing the public
It's not news that lawyers as a group are not held in high regard by the public. But it may be news that the state bar association works continually to change that. First, everyone in the profession must recognize the image of lawyers begins with the individual lawyer--that's you. Beyond that, we get out the message that lawyers help people in difficult situations.
We produce public service messages for television and regularly produce cable programs featuring member-lawyers who explain particular areas of the law. We are involved in the Peoples' Law School programs and publicize the good deeds--legal or otherwise--that lawyers perform in their own communities.
Serving the justice system--for all
We also defend the justice system from unwarranted attacks--from the public or special interest groups. Most recently, we've been outspoken about judicial independence. And if equal justice under the law means something to you, then you can be proud to be a member of the ISBA. You can also participate in this on-going effort. Here are some examples of programs the ISBA has spearheaded:
* We were a co-founder of the Client Security Fund of the Bar of Illinois (now under the Supreme Court) and its primary founder and administrative agent.
* ISBA established a Lawyer Referral Service in counties which didn't already have one.
* It petitioned the Illinois Supreme Court for establishment of the Lawyer's Trust Fund for clients defrauded by their attorneys, and sought the creation of the Attorney Registration and Disciplinary Commission.
* ISBA established and supports the Illinois Pro Bono Center and was a co-sponsor of the Illinois Equal Justice Act and Project, both of which expand legal services.
* The bar association is also the leading voice on legal ethics through its provision of Advisory Opinions on Professional Conduct to Illinois attorneys.
Life in the Illinois State Bar Association-- dependency can be a good thing
You may not be a joiner. But it can be tough to get started without help. As a member of a statewide bar association, you have a variety of opportunities for interpersonal contact--on sections and committees, at bar social functions, meetings and programs--that you won't have elsewhere. And where personal contact leaves off, electronic contact through out Web listserves carries on. The information you get, and the people you meet, can be both lifelines and stepping stones in your career.
Some of our members call themselves "bar junkies." They've served in leadership positions of one kind or another for many years, making the ISBA what it is today. And they'll all tell you they've been greatly enriched, both personally and professionally, in the process.
There is a bottom line to this invitation to join the Illinois State Bar Association: we think we can make your life in the law a little easier and a little more satisfying. That could add up to a lot as you embark on your career.
For membership information, call 800/252-8908 or 217/525-1760, or visit us online at www.isba.org.
Editor's note: In each issue, we will print Attorney General Opinion summaries. Covering a myriad of issues, the Attorney General Opinions provide guidance and insight to government attorneys as well as those in private practice.