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Career Advisor

PROFESSIONAL ORGANIZATIONS: Helpful Resources for Career Exploration and Network Building

Published in the October 4, 2012, Advisor

Joining a bar association or other professional organization as a student member can help you explore potential career paths and connect with mentors at a minimal expense. Student members can access current information about practice areas and the legal job market. Members also have more opportunities to network with established professionals in a variety of different fields and regions.

Consider your career goals as you evaluate which association to join.

Join an organization in a region that interests you.
Interested in living in Portland? As a law student, you can join the Multnomah Bar Association (in Portland) for free. You can do the same in Eugene through the Lane County Bar Association, http://lanecountybar.org/.

Join a specialty bar association if you are interested in pursuing a particular kind of practice.
Many practice-based bar associations exist. Consider, for example, the International Association of Gaming Advisors, the Copyright Society of the U.S.A., and the Maritime Law Association of the United States. Additionally, many larger organizations offer membership in practice-specific sections or committees.

Join a bar associations for a specific identity group.
For $20, students can join the Oregon Women Lawyers for a year; students can join the Oregon Gay and Lesbian Law Association for free. An Oregon Asian Pacific American Bar Association student membership is $15.

Once you join, take advantage of your membership to build your network.

·       Contact members and ask for informational interviews.

·       Volunteer to research something for a committee.

·       Attend a bar association talk or conference; many organizations offer significantly reduced registration fees for students.

·       When you attend an event, capitalize on the opportunity. Talk to the speakers and ask for their business cards. Offer to buy them coffee. Speak with the person sitting next to you or behind you in line for coffee.

·       If you can’t make it to an event, send an email to the speaker and ask to meet the next time you visit the speaker’s hometown.

For your reference, here is a list of just a few of the professional organizations for Oregon lawyers that law students can join.


Student Membership Fee

Marion County Bar Association (MCBA)http://www.marioncountybar.org/how-to-join


Opportunity for Law In Oregon (OLIO)


Oregon Criminal Defense Lawyers Association (OCDLA)http://www.ocdla.org/


Oregon Hispanic Bar Association (OHBA)http://www.oregonhispanicbar.org/


Oregon Minority Law Association (OMLA)http://omla.homestead.com/


Oregon New Lawyers Division (ONLD)http://www.osbar.org/onld/lawstudents.html


Oregon Trial Lawyers Association (OTLA)http://www.oregontriallawyers.org/



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