Whether you have been a member of the Jacksonville Bar Association (JBA) for some time, have recently joined, or are thinking of becoming a member, the JBA has a lot to offer. When most people think of the benefits of joining the JBA, they usually focus on the networking and other social activities. In addition to these activities, your JBA membership comes with a variety of other benefits that often times get overlooked, so I’ve decided to highlight a few of those benefits in this article. Taking advantage of these underutilized resources can enhance your professional and practice development as well as facilitate the management of your firm.
• Continuing Legal Education seminars. The JBA sponsors live CLE seminars throughout the year on a variety of topics and practice areas ranging from judicial symposiums to real estate foreclosures. In 2008, the JBA sponsored 16 CLE seminars, all at minimal cost to members. Information on upcoming CLE programs can be found on the JBA Web site.
• Mock Appellate Program. The Appellate Practice Section of the JBA offers a mock oral argument program which allows any JBA member with an upcoming appellate argument to prepare and present his or her argument before a selected panel of attorneys from the Section who volunteer to serve as “judges.” This preparation is invaluable, especially for attorneys new to appellate practice.
• Mentor Program. The Mentor Program creates an avenue for inexperienced attorneys to learn from more experienced attorneys. The program is designed to provide attorneys with the opportunity to heighten the degree of civility, professionalism and competence with which to represent their clients.
• Committees and Sections. JBA committees provide an outlet for members to participate in ongoing projects focused on service to the community, strengthening the legal profession, and camaraderie among JBA members. For instance, through the Bench and Bar Professionalism Committee attorneys and the public are educated about practicing law in a courteous and ethical way; and members of the Special Needs of Children Committee are educated about the extraordinary needs of children in our community and encouraged to get involved through education, pro bono representation, and other community services designed to enhance the lives of local children.
JBA Sections provide forums for lawyers interested in particular areas to meet to discuss relevant legal issues and provide practical assistance to fellow attorneys. Section members often use the Lunch and Learn format, such as the Labor and Employment Section who held several working lunches last year with presenters on employment law topics such as current issues in immigration law and ERISA issues in employment cases. These sections cover a wide range of practice areas, including two new sections — Admiralty & Maritime Law and Human Rights Law. JBA sections can be a valuable resource for professional development.
Practice development and management
• Lawyer Referral Service (LRS). The JBA sponsors a lawyer referral service that not only assists the public in locating lawyers that practice in specific areas of law, but also helps members in expanding their client base. In 2008, the LRS made 1,358 referrals to our panel members and 1,426 referrals to other agencies such as Jacksonville Area Legal Aid.
• Conference Rooms. One of the newer services offered by the JBA is the use of conference room space at the new JBA office. The JBA offers modern conference rooms at discounted rates. These conference rooms are ideal for mediations or depositions.
Discounted products and services
As with many professional associations, the JBA offers a wide variety of discounts for products and services for members ranging from business apparel to legal artwork and printing. Providers of such products and services include Marsh Consumer Connexions, a provider of insurance services including professional liability insurance; ITC Deltacom, a provider of discounted telecommunications and technology solutions; and The Jacksonville Bank who offers an extensive complement of customized services and products for law firms including Practice Banking Services and Loan Products. A comprehensive list of the products and services are available on the JBA Web site.
Raising the Bar
The JBA is committed to providing value to our members. We are embarking on several initiatives to that end. One initiative is to improve on the functionality of our Web site. So look out for exciting things happening soon at www.jaxbar.org such as online CLE seminars, weblinks to firms, an expanded lawyer referral service section and much more.
In summary, your JBA membership provides a host of opportunities for both professional and practice development. Please take the time to discover the variety of benefits available to you. The JBA exists to serve our members and our profession. It’s up to you to make the most of your membership.