Your law society membership offers a lot more than a license to practice law. While the specifics vary depending on the province or territory you're licensed in, every law society makes available numerous opportunities for career development and networking. Let’s take a look at four ways you can get involved:
1. Attend annual meetings.
Many of the law societies hold annual meetings or conferences. They offer an excellent opportunity for rubbing elbows with legal professionals across your province or territory. In addition to forging new connections — and strengthening those that already exist — you’ll be able to get fresh takes on handling cases from colleagues in your practice area. Not only that, but these meetings typically offer quite a few opportunities to pursue continuing professional development (CPD credits), sometimes at a reduced cost.
2. Look for pro bono work.
Pro bono work enhances the reputation of both you and your firm. It also comes with the reward of knowing you provide counsel to people who truly need solid representation but are unable to afford it. Check with your law society to see what sort of pro bono opportunities are available. In many cases, you may be paired with a local legal aid center, which could give you a glimpse of an unfamiliar area of law. Pro bono work can offer opportunities to gain relevant experience if you are considering expanding or switching your practice area. You can also see if there’s a way you can get involved in recruiting other legal professionals for pro bono work, creating opportunities for networking.
3. Take CPD classes.
As a practicing lawyer, you’re going to have to earn CPD credits as required by your respective law society. Why not let your CPD courses work double-duty? Opting for the traditional in-person format or interactive video conferences assures you get your CPD credits, but also lets you work with and meet colleagues you might not have access to otherwise.
4. Join a committee or run for an office.
Both committee work and running for office offer plenty of networking opportunities. But they also afford you a chance to hone your soft skills, including public speaking — a necessity in many specialty areas of the law. And if you run for an office in your society, you could not only play a part in ensuring the residents of your province or territory receive excellent legal services, but also get a chance to polish your attributes as a leader.
You may have to pay to be a member of your law society whether or not you’re an active member. So why not make the most of your annual dues? After all, increased networking possibilities and career development can go a long way in helping you advance in your career.