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Solo In Chicago

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Tuesday, October 03, 2006

Bar association activity by attorneys

I've been on a bit of a run recently of various bar association activity and it begs the question, what's the ideal amount of bar association activity for an attorney? I intend to ask the question irrespective of any CLE requirements. Obviously if you're in a mandatory continuing legal education state you need to attend various CLEs which are often put on by bar associations. But what about all these things beyond just CLE...committee meetings, dinner meetings, golf outings, various volunteer efforts. Beyond the social components whereby you want to see friends like I will play golf with my best friend on Saturday (for example), what's the benefit with hanging out with other lawyers so much? Is there a detriment?

Obviously there are many ways to think about this concept. What has spurred this post with me is thinking back to the first lawyer I worked for and his adage was often, "I'm not going to find any new clients among this group of lawyers." I.e. hardly ever attended bar association events. I think there's some wisdom in that perspective even if it's not 100% accurate. However, many of the legal marketing studies we see say that some 30% of a lawyers' business does come from referrals from other professionals (bankers, lawyers, accountants). As I think about it, I think the lawyer in a niche practice might greatly benefit from lawyer socializing so he/she can line up referrals sources from other lawyers. In my practice which is heavily family law oriented, I think this benefit is diminished.

I personally do a good bit of bar work and like the CBA lunchtime CLE programs. But I gag at all the inter-lawyer social events...what's the point? There are significant portions of each day where I want to take the "lawyer hat" off.

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