If you’re looking for a way to learn more about the practice of law, do some pro bono work and schmooze with other prominent lawyers, look no further than your local, state or national bar association. Bar associations have a variety of committees that give lawyers a chance to get involved with the association while making valuable connections. “You can talk to judges without being in front of them in a courtroom,” according to Martha Harris, the Committee Coordinator for the Association of the Bar of the City of New York. Paul Smigliani, the California Young Lawyers Association’s representative to the California Bar, points out that committee membership is an excellent way to gain standing and improve a lawyer’s reputation in the community which can often be difficult for young lawyers just starting out. But there are more benefits to committee membership than networking. “Committee membership helps young associates get perspective on their area of law,” says Smigliani. The committees present a forum to talk about issues and concerns in a particular practice area. “Joining a committee is a great way to get really involved in the nitty gritty of the law,” according to Michael Wynne, Director of Membership Development for the American Bar Association. Above all, local bar associations stress that the committees sponsor a lot of pro bono efforts and offer opportunities to help society.

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