This post was prompted by reading today of a controversy between the Florida Bar and some of its members over selling the member's e-mail addresses. (I don't have a comment on that specific situation.) I've now worked for the OOklahoma Bar Association for over 11 years. Even though we have paid staff, a lot of our efforts depend on lawyers volunteering to serve on committees and do other types of volunteer work. These lawyers receive a lot in return, they tell me. They meet many different lawyers and develop friendships. But they also receive tangible business benefits, such as referrals from other lawyers they have encountered in their bar work. More than a few are now practicing in firms with other lawyers they originally met through volunteer bar work.
There's a lot of satisfaction in seeing a project you have shepherded come to reality, whether it helps other lawyers or helps other in our community. Some bar associations report difficulty with getting "brand new" lawyers to participate. All of us seem to have more to do than the time permits and I am sure that they feel the same way. But I would encourage new lawyers to get involved with the Young Lawyers Division and their state and local bar associations. You may make contacts and friendships there that will last a lifetime! You also have the chance to impact decisions that your bar association makes.
Over the last several years we have announced several member benefits from the Oklahoma Bar Association that are law practice management oriented. These include a subscription to the Factcase legal research service that is free to members as a part of their bar dues, discounts on Corevault online backup service for data protection and the OBA Law Firm Merchant Account to provide a system for lawyers to process credit card payments to the office and trust accounts. Just think what great things your bar association might do over the next few years with your input and time.