Cutting ABA membership rates isn't the answer to shoring up lawyers' interest in joining the professional association, outgoing ABA President H. Thomas Wells Jr. said in an interview.
"The surveys that we have done have given some mixed signals on that," Wells said. "If we thought that halving the rates would double membership overnight, we would have done that."
Still, some within the organization, including President-Elect Carolyn Lamm, have suggested that lowering rates for some members might increase the appeal to certain groups of lawyers, such as young attorneys, public-interest lawyers and judges. Lawyers who have passed the bar in the past year are admitted free of charge, and after that there’s a sliding fee scale that climbs from $125 to $399 per year.
While Wells is concerned about meeting lawyers’ needs amid the recession’s job-cutting, he has ideas other than cutting the ABA rates. For instance, just last week the association started a new service on its Web site where lawyer job openings are posted, Wells said. The association’s publications, continuing education programs and webinars are also important association resources for lawyers in tough times, he said.
“The most important time to be a member of the ABA is when times are tough,” Wells said.