The ABA stands for service and learning: service to our system of laws and, by extension, to all of those the legal system serves. And it is an opportunity for all members to learn and for those who serve to have an impact. It is a home for those involved in scholarship, practice, the bench, research and delivery of services. It is law’s “big tent”.

Soon after law school, I joined the ABA as a young trial lawyer to, in a way, continue my education through membership in the preeminent legal association. Twenty-three years after becoming a lawyer, and with 15 years of experience as a mediator, I rejoined after several years away from the ABA. This time, I joined to serve and, in a sense, to again continue my education.

My home in the ABA is the multidisciplinary Section of Dispute Resolution. The Section allows me to learn from others in the diverse field of dispute resolution and to contribute to the evolving future of the field. Engaging with the Section, beyond just connecting through the ABA and Section periodicals, makes membership my most worthwhile professional “extracurricular” activity. I was moved to become active again after attending the Section of Dispute Resolution’s 13th Annual Spring Conference. There, I saw opportunities to learn from those with different experiences and roles and from around the country and beyond and share with them. I have found opportunities to lead and contribute and have made friends. Together, members of the Section are at the forefront of dispute resolution and shape our thinking and practice from perspectives informed by diverse experiences and origins.

The diversity and reach of the ABA is what makes membership truly enriching and impactful for me.  The Section attracts neutrals, those who inform them, and those they serve. It attracts members from within and outside the United States and from within and outside the practice of law. Members are focused on areas such as the courts, legal education, research, the businesses of law and of dispute resolution,  program systems and administration,  dispute resolution service consumers and providers, psychology and neuroscience, and public policy, to name a few. The Mediation Committee was a logical place for me to engage, given that I was and am a neutral focused on mediation. Participating in that committee led to leadership opportunities (I now serve on the Section Council) and to opportunities to participate in presenting educational programming, both in person and via the web.  Since the reach of the association is so broad, I have joined panels and learned from seasoned professionals, some of whom are the most highly regarded of their occupations. Whether you want connections, insights and voices that are local, regional, national, or global, the ABA gives you those opportunities. I have been a mediator for over 18 years now, and I am still learning as I serve the field and influence the future of dispute resolution.

The ABA serves all aspects of our legal system and those that system serves. Please join us in this service. In serving, you will get more than you give.